Extending the Perimeter on Campus Security and Safety
- By Danny Garrido
- May 15, 2023
Campus security and safety are two of the many challenges facing colleges and universities nationwide. When we think about safety and security on campuses, one might immediately think of active shooter scenarios and prevention. However, as “soft targets,” campuses are vulnerable in more ways than one. Should the wrong person gain control of a physical key (especially a master key) or asset, the repercussions could be costly and have significant consequences.
For some, the realization to be proactive in extending perimeter security across their campus has led them to review intelligent key and asset management, as well as created significant efficiencies and improved day-to-day job effectiveness. For one university, their campus security team saw an opportunity to be more vigilant with the safety and security of their firearms and shared assets across the campus.
Rochester Institute for Technology (RIT) in New York enrolls 19,700 students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, making it among the largest private universities in the United States. In 2017, RIT’s public safety department recognized they needed a revamped approach to managing their officers’ most essential assets: firearms.
The school’s public safety department contacted Traka with interest in its intelligent weapons locker. In the end, twenty lockers were installed on campus, resulting in increased efficiency, improved time management, and overall cost savings. RIT’s foresight can stand as a model for other colleges and universities to benefit should they consider RIT’s approach to securing, managing, and auditing their most valuable assets, whether those be firearms, handheld radios, or tablets/laptops containing critical information.
A Modern Approach to an Antiquated System
Every university has a system or security measures they feel are adequate. Still, many are hesitant to change due to the extensive process of teaching staff a new system and phasing out their old one. Before RIT installed Traka’s system, they manually checked assets in and out using pen and paper, which was cumbersome and inefficient. They decided if they were going to make significant changes to an asset checkout system that included firearms, they needed to find a more secure and effective way to do so.
Today, RIT uses the Traka weapons lockers integrated into their access control system, which gives them control, accountability, and endless reporting. With each officer’s fingerprint registered as the credential for controlled access, the biometric capability activates the authorization to the firearm or shared device for full accountability, and each weapon is pre-assigned to a specific officer. The streamlined process helps ensure clarity and reduces the potential consequence of checking out the wrong weapon; everything is documented in real time. Traka worked with RIT to strategically install the lockers so that more of their time could be present on campus and tending to other priorities.
Improving Workflows and Accountability
RIT uses intelligent key and equipment systems that safeguard the physical keys, access cards, or assets used in day-to-day operations, which provide universities more accountability when it counts. There is no room for error when it comes to losing or replacing precious assets like firearms or master keys. In addition to being expensive, unauthorized access to such high-risk items as a master key or a weapon could have serious implications! Traka worked in collaboration with RIT to customize the lockers to their requirements. One feature they chose to incorporate was the curfew option, significantly changing the weapons management routines for the better.
Traka’s curfew feature allows the public safety department to track and maintain assets through a vital audit trail. For example, once an RIT officer checks out a weapon, they have a set amount of time to return it. If they don’t, the software system alerts their supervisor so they can follow up if required. Additionally, if an asset requires maintenance, the officer can log the issue in the system upon return, and the administrator will be notified, making this process more seamless and effective while giving them back valuable man-hours.
With over 40 campus security officers, you can imagine the resources needed to monitor individual locations and what assets they have at their ready. Instead of bearing the stress and time of manually tracking and registering every officer and what equipment they have, RIT supervisors can now manage the comprehensive system at the tip of their fingerprints. The system has been so successful, other departments have purchased and installed key cabinets and additional departments are interested in adding more.
Investing in What Matters Most
RIT is just one of many universities partnering with Traka to improve their overall security measures and regain accountability within departments, which helps save on critical resources like time and money.
Universities across the country face similar challenges regarding key and asset management. The next big step for those operating in an outdated process is to consider what a solution change could mean for them. Those who abandon the “norm” and invest in security at the highest level send a clear message to their community that they prioritize protecting what matters most: their students, staff, and community.
This article originally appeared in the May / June 2023 issue of Campus Security Today.