Real Time Crime Center Operations to Improve Campus Security
- By Bruce Canal
- September 18, 2023
Limited resources and evolving threats make it more challenging than ever for campus police departments and physical security teams. To effectively ensure public safety, many campus police departments are adopting new operation models. They are seeking ways to respond more quickly to potential threats and communicate more effectively with stakeholders. Security teams often need to do more with less, without compromising safety.
In an emergency, the ability to stay informed and respond swiftly in changing conditions is crucial. For several college campuses, real-time crime centers (RTCCs) have emerged as a cost-effective and highly efficient solution to enhance campus security.
These crime-fighting nerve centers facilitate decision-making through increased intelligence and better understanding. They enable campus police departments and physical security teams to enhance situational awareness, improve officer safety, and expedite case resolution.
RTCCs rely on a unified software platform to bring together all the data gathered by security systems and sensors. Instead of toggling between windows or exporting data between programs, campus safety personnel can view all the relevant information in one place. A unified software platform can also filter out irrelevant information and present the data in intuitive ways.
The RTCC approach makes it easier to detect unusual activity or potential threats, coordinate an effective response, and have a real-time view of activities. Your security team can access all the information they need to understand an incident and determine the next steps quickly.
An Evolution from Reactive to Proactive Response
Many higher education campuses have established Security Operation Centers (SOCs) to monitor and manage security operations. The SOC is typically responsible for surveillance, incident response, and enforcing security protocols. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are often established to guide the actions of security personnel.
An RTCC takes the idea a step further. It’s designed for immediate response and prevention of crime and threats. It goes beyond traditional security operations by integrating real-time data from various sources to detect, analyze, and respond to criminal activities more efficiently.
While there may be some similarities between a SOC and an RTCC, the key difference lies in the scope and purpose of their operations. An RTCC is geared towards prevention, real-time monitoring, and intelligence dissemination to prevent and respond to potential threats swiftly. It involves a broader collaboration and integration of resources beyond the immediate security operations.
The capability to share data helps teams break down siloes between departments and can even help your team collaborate more effectively with the community. Your team and local police can respond more quickly, with better situational awareness to help keep officers safe and to aid in investigations.
A Map-Based, Holistic Approach
The RTCC approach is designed to facilitate collaboration, inclusion, and communication with internal stakeholders, as well as law enforcement and other external partners. It’s a more holistic approach to security. To aid in this comprehensive view, an RTCC team can take advantage of a map-based interface within the unified system. It allows operators to quickly see where an incident takes place.
The map-based interface becomes the main visualization dashboard from which the security team manages emergency responses. Everything from cameras and gunshot detection analytics to computer-assisted dispatch (CAD) information and officer locations are combined within the interface. When an incident occurs, the RTCC staff can quickly view nearby activities and available responders.
For example, your staff can be alerted when a large gathering forms on a certain part of campus. They can use their map-based interface to pull footage from cameras and other sensors within a specific radius of the event. If a potential threat is identified, your team can dispatch nearby officers.
Security: A Collaborative Effort
While a unified, map-based platform makes it easier to surface the most important data and insights, you can strengthen your overall security posture by integrating law enforcement systems.
To facilitate partnerships with law enforcement, consider federation opportunities. In the context of an RTCC, federation can be achieved with technology that allows agencies to consolidate live monitoring, video searches, alarm management, and health reporting from multiple agencies and sites. Publicly and privately-owned and operated organizations can share vital information through federation. They can still maintain strict rights and privileges to remain in compliance with the connected systems and personal privacy regulations.
You can also consider a digital evidence management system (DEMS). A DEMS allows campus security and law enforcement to securely share digital files to aid investigations. With a click on a link, your team can securely share video evidence with approved recipients and track who has viewed the file.
You no longer need to store the file on a thumb drive or CD and then drive it to the stakeholder. Instead, officers and detectives can log into the DEMS and send or receive evidence files without ever leaving their desks.
Including all stakeholders and partners as collaborators when implementing security measures improves the quality of intelligence. Being able to easily partner and share information plays a critical role in rapidly identifying and mitigating potential threats to campus safety and security.
Implementing New Campus Security Solutions
As campus safety needs continue to evolve, an RTCC solution may be a consideration for your team. It allows your team to be more proactive and efficient by unifying data, surveillance, and intelligence in a map-based interface. Automating and centralizing your data saves valuable time for your police departments, enabling you to do more with fewer officers.
The scalability and modularity of the unified platforms powering RTCCs allow your team to start with only the most essential components. Work with your systems integrator to consider which features and components to implement initially. Additional functionality, advanced features, or new devices can be added over time to meet evolving needs. This approach maximizes flexibility and allows you to customize your approach as you enhance your overall campus safety and security.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2023 issue of Campus Security Today.