All Security Points to COVID

For several years now, our Security Today franchise has published articles about campus security. Eventually, Campus Security & Life Safety began a journey of its own. As the mission of the magazine evolved, so has the content.

The COVID-19 pandemic weighs heavily on everyone’s mind these days. COVID-19 has become the touchpoint of today’s security mission. Technology has evolved, and new solutions have come to forefront to help ensure safety and security on the campus. COVID and security are often part of the same conversation.

Late last year, colleges and universities identified new challenges and the risks for those on campus at risk for transmission of the virus. What we often heard is that young healthy adults were at low risk is relatively low. At higher risk were members of that community, such as faculty, campus staff and close contacts of students at home. Students that lived in both worlds, at home and in their communities, could be at higher risk for severe illness and death if they became infected.

As we explore the messages that keep students safe and secure has changed; our vision of security now includes the safety and health of those people who spent time on campus. In this issue of Campus Security & Life Safety magazine, we present an article of how technology can be used to keep schools and students safe. Authors Kevin Brown and Alok Jain, are aware of the challenges of the past, such as guns, fires, and a bus accident or bullying – you choose the topic. The new normal is the pandemic.

Here is a short, quick look at their message.

COVID has introduced two major challenges to schools.

  • There is the challenge of keeping students, teachers safe on campus.
  • There is the separate challenge of educating students who are sitting at home learning remotely. These challenges are compounded by the fact that in many schools, it is not an either/or proposition. Some come to school, some stay at home.

The problem: Once school is over, many of these students gather in other places. There is no “safe bubble.” Look around. You will see students in their groups, hanging out together, and their idea of social distancing can be measured in inches, not feet. Compound this with the very real problem of ‘COVID-fatigue’ that plagues their parents, and you have a powder keg that is placed firmly in the laps of our schools.

Schools have no control over what their students may bring to the classroom. The “safe bubble” that schools seek springs a leak before the school day even begins. The answer seems to be smarter schools.

AI – with machine learning – allows us to have smarter schools, where live data allows us to do things more intelligently. For example, the antiquated fire drills certainly served a purpose. AI will allow campus officials the opportunity to pinpoint the threat and direct students away from the troubled area. Because of today’s technology, students no long has to stand in line to have a temperature reading, or worry about a social distancing dilemma.

Sensors are embedded into normal technology and can be found everywhere in the school and on campus. Technology adds a “New Normal” in securing a campus, and protecting the campus population.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2021 issue of Campus Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.