No one questions the need for stringent security measures to protect campuses. With increasingly better regulatory mandates and customer awareness, most organizations view security solutions as an inevitable part of the infrastructure. But that doesn’t mean the industry has met all the needs of end customers in this vertical. Especially in sectors like education, ensuring security is often a balancing act between tight budgets and regulatory requirements. In fact, given the current economic situation, these needs have become even more critical.
Here, we take a closer look at some often-overlooked campus security pain points and steps to resolve them.
1. The Cost of Guards
For many end customers, security is a necessary expense. It is essential to avoid losses in the event of an untoward incident, and unavoidable to meet regulations. But, if you talk to the head of the security department at an education or healthcare establishment, you would likely hear them worrying about the cost.
Educational and healthcare institutions continually analyze how they can better use the many millions of dollars that they spend every year to guard the campus or even provide around-the-clock guarding for high-alert patients, such as inmates. This cost can be significant, but what most of these entities don’t realize is that security technology has advanced so much in recent years that it doesn’t cost as much as it has in the past. The reason they don’t realize this is because the security industry itself isn’t able to think out of the box to offer cost-efficient systems that increase the overall value of technology.
For instance, why is it that many healthcare institutions are not adopting a surveillance system that is secure enough to be used for monitoring patients while maintaining HIPPA compliance for patient safety? In the case of the 24/7 guard, video security camera technology can be leveraged to provide real-time monitoring of a high-alert patient to the staff. Additionally, why is it that in the education sector, we cannot replace or aid guard patrol with cameras equipped with intrusion or behavioral detection analytics?
2. Improving Guard Efficiency
Traditionally, guards have communicated with a security center through radio. But this delays response in case of an emergency as explaining details through voice alone is slow and increases the chances of missing crucial information. Therefore, a combination of audio, video, and metadata is an ideal solution in this environment. Along with the verbal report from the guard, security administrators can view real-time video with analytics that identify critical objects or activities.
Implementing this process can begin with mobile phones, which have become an integral part of everyone’s lives, or even dedicated mobile devices that can capture audio and video, specify location coordinates, etc., and make use of multiple wireless technologies to transfer this data. The device could also make use of augmented reality, which superimposes a layer of data on to the traditional video to help guards detect minute details in a scene.
In today’s world, there is a significant amount of technology available to collect more information than ever before through high-quality cameras and sensors. There is also a thriving analytics industry to process this collected data. The missing link is communication. There has been very little development in the way guards transfer information about what they encounter with the command center.
3. Ensuring Privacy Along with Security
While security is a fundamental concern on campuses, it cannot come at the expense of privacy. Organizations that have campuses need to create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and welcomed. They also need to meet local, state, federal and regional requirements to ensure a person’s right to privacy.
Different regions around the world have various privacy regulations. The latest to make headlines was the GDPR in Europe, which was an attempt to standardize – and in some cases, update – its data privacy laws across member states. Additionally, some rules are vertical-specific. For instance, in healthcare, protecting the privacy of a patient would require an entirely different approach than child protection laws that may apply to an educational institution.
But striking a balance between privacy and security is not simple for systems integrators and end users. Manufacturers must leverage their expertise and work with partners to ensure that solutions comply with regulatory requirements while not compromising on security. Similarly, end users should engage with partners that have a working knowledge of the regulations that are in place within the area they serve. This can become a critical piece of the puzzle when implementing extensive video surveillance and intelligence-driven technology.
Integrating Systems to Meet Campus Challenges
Connecting various siloed equipment to work alongside each other is the most important step to deal with these concerns. An example of achieving this is the concept of virtual campuses, wherein security administrators receive detailed, real-time videos of every nook and cranny of campus at their security center. Bringing data from different devices to a single reception point enables better management and faster action.
Using Analytics and Advanced Systems
The addition of analytics makes this effort even stronger. For instance, a license plate recognition system (LPR) can identify a car arriving at the main gate of campus if it is included in the list of permitted vehicles. If it is not, the technology can instantly inform the authorities of a car arriving and can alert the guards to keep an eye on it. When combined with a visitor management system, authorities can recognize guests who are scheduled to arrive, and an access control system would grant allow them to enter.
Integrating video cameras with theses systems can also provide visual verification of the person. At an advanced level, analytics can even alert staff if the face of the person in the video doesn’t match the records.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Analytics can help authorities in numerous other ways, such as managing traffic on campus or locating unattended luggage, people carrying weapons, or even someone loitering in an area. But for all this to function in a cost-efficient manner, optimized integration is essential.
Addressing Privacy Concerns
Integration is critical to dealing with privacy concerns, as well. For example, the use of video surveillance cameras has traditionally been seen as a gray area with regard to privacy, which has created the challenge of incorporating additional sensors in an effort to gather intelligence.
Many companies are competing to come up with solutions that do not need visual feeds to know what’s happening in an area. For example, educational campuses are now calling on additional sensors that use smoke/THC and audio sensors to help detect whether students are smoking or vaping in a restroom or in a locker room where surveillance is prohibited. This provides added oversight without the potential privacy issues.
Additionally, audio sensors are now available to detect gunshots, and even issues like bullying, without violating anyone’s privacy. These can be integrated with cameras placed at other places, like the entrances of toilets, to identify the people involved. But the critical point to note is that none of this information would be useful if it doesn’t reach the right people at the right time. Integrating these building blocks of security into a single centralized structure that automates separate devices and allows control from a single point is essential.
Bottom Line for Modern Campuses
A combination of advanced devices and technology that can integrate them is the answer to campus security customer’s problems. As technology advances, more and more devices will enter the market, and, on their own, most of them will promise spectacular results. However, the customer will not benefit from them unless they can add solutions to a centralized system.