What Campuses Need

3 advanced security technologies that campuses need this year

Higher education institutions are a microcosm of society at-large. One example of this is people using video to document altercations and, in particular, to challenge the actions of law enforcement. Another is the continuing effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 using technology to limit contact between people. These trends are influencing the types of security technologies considered necessary on a campus today.

Among the advanced security technologies available to address a campus’ needs are body-worn cameras, video with analytics, and touch-less access control solutions. Here’s how they benefit a college or university campus.

Body Worn Cameras: Why they are an Important Security Tool
Due to the ubiquity of smartphones, any altercation between law enforcement and the general public is assuredly video-recorded and often disseminated on social media. To counter what could be a one-sided account of an incident, campus law enforcement may use body-worn cameras (BWCs) to provide firsthand and complete video and audio documentation of those events, including any arrests. BWC cannot be altered or edited, an element that is critical to the integrity of the data.

BWCs can provide security departments with increased accountability by having a record of an event that can be compared with, say, a bystander’s video — depicting a more comprehensive picture of the entire situation. Because it can’t be tampered with, BWC video can be verified as accurate and used in potential litigation.

Body worn cameras also can diffuse situations and act as a deterrent. The fact that a citizen knows that their words and actions are being recorded on camera may have a chilling effect on aberrant behavior. BWCs with 12-hour power capacity allow campus law enforcement officers to wear them for an entire shift, thus gaining a better record of their duties and activities.

In actual use, both video and audio are captured and stored on the camera in the field, then transferred to the camera when it is placed in its docking station. The system allows the transfer of data to a storage device — either on-premises or in the cloud.

Data is encrypted both at rest and in transfer. With an open architecture solution, the BWC can operate on the most popular brands of VMS. Having a BWC system that works with most VMS provides many bene- fits to a university. For example, in the event of an accusation, the security director can grant permission to the institution’s lawyer, internal affairs department, and others, letting each review the footage independently.

Video Analytics: How They Work
School administrators have asked for more from their camera systems and analytics are the best step forward to maximize video technology. Analytics used at educational institutions enable law enforcement to work smartly, students to live more safely, and operations staff to work more efficiently. Cameras with analytics built-in, working “on the edge,” are not only desired today — they are required today.

Analytics can help with aggression detection, people counting, radar and motion detection, and searching/reviewing video. While edge analytics have many advantages, server-based analytics also are available for use with camera systems that have been previously installed.

Aggression detection coupled with gunshot- detection analytics are critical to advanced security operations. Aggression detection identifies when a person is highly stressed by an active assailant (armed or unarmed) and can alert authorities with location information and video data in real time. This type of analytic detects the sounds of a physical altercation, a bullying incident, or someone yelling in fear. These analytics can tell the difference between a person yelling and cheering because their player just sank a three-point jump shot, and someone screaming because their life is imperiled.

Estimating the number of people in a certain area using a people-counting analytic is in part driven by COVID-19 mandates that limit occupancy. Higher education will also see value in people-counting analytics when monitoring organized demonstrations.

Radar-based motion detectors, which detect intrusion in large areas, and motion analytics, which detect people and vehicles, help officials learn of incidents that they otherwise might miss because of the time/day of the event (for example, on a weekend) or the availability of someone to see it. Radar detectors and motion analytics make video cameras more productive and efficient; they can send alerts when something is detected in the area being observed and make audio announcements via a network speaker to direct the intruder to leave the area. The bottom line is that radar detectors and motion analytics allow cameras to provide more than forensic evidence of an incident — they become tools for the prevention of crime.

Video search analytics enable campus law enforcement staff to collapse the task of reviewing video from what could normally take hours or even days, into a matter of minutes. With this analytic the user inputs particular data such as a person’s clothing or description of their vehicle and the analytics search across thousands of cameras that may be present on a campus, providing important information such as which direction a perpetrator may have gone following their crime. It is not humanly possible for someone to watch scene, after scene looking for one type of vehicle, for instance. Chances are they’re going to miss it, whereas analytics can do that job.

Analytics belong to the class of artificial intelligence, affording functions that human beings can do, but doing them much more efficiently and continually.

Access Control: How a University Can Benefit
Professionals in the higher education market in 2021 will be eager to implement access control technologies that help them mitigate COVID-19, while protecting students, staff, and visitors and making their lives easier and more efficient. The trend in access control is that any investment should offer both alleviation from the spread of COVID-19 and a clear security benefit — both a today and tomorrow perspective. What’s more, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of access control solutions can be shared by multiple internal disciplines at an institution. With different budgets all sharing the cost, the TCO for any one specific entity is reduced tremendously.

Given its ability to create a touch-less environment, access cards or mobile access smartphone technology coupled with powered doors can grant or restrict access at exterior and interior doors. A powered door, when an access credential is presented, opens automatically and closes/locks a few seconds afterwards. Door handles never need to be touched, mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Mobile smartphone technology has applications for both security and business operations at a college or university; for example, access to dormitories and parking garages, purchases at bookstores and food courts, tickets to sporting events or performing arts events, borrowing capabilities at libraries, passes to campus transportation.

Network audio/video door stations also provide higher education with a solution that can help curb the spread of COVID-19, while creating a flank of security on either a perimeter or interior of a building. The benefits of having integrated two-way high-definition (HD) audio communication with HD video verification are powerful.

Audio/video door stations are used to vet people before they enter buildings or suites, thus reducing the possibility of face-to-face meetings. They are an excellent solution for offices with infrequent visitors, especially if the visitor is simply looking for directions or has a question that can be answered remotely.

Billions of dollars from the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the December 2020 CARES Act Extension are available to higher education institutions and are currently being underused. Part of these funds have been set aside specifically for higher education, and can be used for anything that mitigates the spread of COVID-19. Access control technology upgrades fall into that category.

Colleges and universities are security intensive environments whose campuses need efficient and effective tools to not only protect students, professors, staff, and visitors, but to help law enforcement manage issues, too. Body-worn cameras, video analytics, and access control are three advanced security technologies that can help them do that job.

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


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