Security on Campus

Integrators weigh in on how to deploy technology, generate RMR, and ultimately break into the market

“We built a state-of-the-art command center with video monitoring,” Komisar explains. “They started pulling in cameras from all these departments, so the individual schools can manage their independent systems, but we tied them all into the enterprise system so the police can monitor them, respond to incidents and do guard tours.”

While higher education is the first market segment that comes to mind when you mention campus security, the campus environment extends well beyond education into corporate, industrial, healthcare and other markets.

While a corporate campus, for example, will likely not be faced with the variety of disparate systems that may be found on a university campus, the holistic approach usually still applies. David Stansell, President of Stansell Electric Co., of Nashville, Tenn., ran into this when designing a security upgrade for a corporate headquarters campus with more than 700 employees. The campus was so large that it averages 100 visitors per day and actually hosts events for the city and county it resides in.

“To begin defining the project scope, we first had to understand their standard operating procedures relative to employee work schedules, visitor management and physical security,” Stansell explains. “As we listened to the customer describe the issues they had experienced with the old system and what they would like to see in a new system the project scope began to shift from the one-for-one system upgrade they had originally requested to a design utilizing multiple interior layers of security providing the flexibility needed based on the uses of the facility, multiple user interface options, video integration, visitor management and enterprise scalability.”


Choosing the Right Technologies

A campus environment offers a multitude of opportunity for the use and deployment of different technologies. Since most campus environments today already have a primary and secondary network backbone, it makes the selection and installation of IP-based equipment that much easier. “Any system capable of leveraging the bandwidth and redundancy of existing network infrastructure is more cost effective and flexible than ‘box’ systems of just a few years ago,” Stansell says.

Additionally, major security-related events of the past have spurred a massive increase in risk assessment on campuses — resulting in a change in the way these technologies are chosen and deployed. “When we first started doing universities, it was doors first, protect the kids, and protect sporting venues with a lot of people,” Komisar recalls. “That’s where we started, but now with the increased awareness, everyone is starting to do classroom doors and classroom building perimeters. Mass notification is also very important now, and most of the campuses out there still don’t have it. They do have mass notification via email and text, but audio speaker systems are still lagging.”

One solution to the audible, campus-wide emergency notification problem can be accomplished through the ubiquitous emergency phones — from suppliers such as Code Blue, Talk-a-Phone and Gai-Tronics — that dot most campuses. “Now that they have been converted from hard-wired to IP phones, those pedestals are being converted into mass notification devices,” Komisar says.

“IP Video Surveillance is taking over as the product that most institutions build their security platform foundation on,” Patitucci adds. “In years past, that technology was access control, but that is not the case anymore. In order to get the most out of a VMS, high resolution IP cameras should be installed. Still, a total campus solution must also include access control, including burglar alarms. The ability to prevent unauthorized access to secure areas is still a major priority for safety and security.”

But what may be the most important technology is something that can provide a backbone for all of the other technologies on a campus, like the enterprise VMS deployed at Vanderbilt. “This is where a reputable security integrator earns their stripes — picking all or some of these solutions and getting them all to operate as one system,” Patitucci says. “Ease of use and reliability are a must during a serious event. The last thing the person responsible for the safety and security of an institution wants is to have to go to multiple disparate systems in the event of an emergency.”