The New World of Campus Security
Campus security, whether that campus is educational or corporate, has changed significantly in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, organizations are more cautious about the potential health and safety risks. Technology use is increasing and augmenting security officers. And, often, security is asked to do more to keep employees, students and the general public safe, secure and healthy.
The Evolution of Campus Security
Corporate and educational campuses are relying more on security personnel. Assisting officers with their new tasks and duties are:
- Awareness programming
Here’s how they’re improving the campus security scene.
Rethinking Campus Security
Today’s campuses are different from the campuses of just a few short years ago. To keep students, staff and visitors safe, security officers need to be more proactive and visible than ever before. Having a highly visible security presence can help deter student or employee aggression, bullying, and criminal activity. That visibility also makes it easier to provide an effective and immediate response if an incident occurs.
Many campuses now require new security strategies for ensuring the highest levels of health and safety, not only day-to-day in facilities but also for special events. Officers are being asked to provide more stringent access control and support emergency health services to mitigate potential compromises to health and safety.
Freeing up Personnel with Technology
Cameras and other security technology have advanced significantly. They can cover 180 degrees and provide a watchful eye day and night, with one or two skilled employees monitoring and controlling the devices remotely. A small group of officers can monitor a wide area by building a technology infrastructure connected to a Security Operations Center (SOC).
There are things that technology does well, such as providing virtually unlimited eyes and ears on a campus. But what technology does best is free up security officers to do the things technology can’t do. A security officer can act as the “face” of an organization, giving students, staff, and visitors a sense of safety and security. A security officer can provide customer service, manage incidents, and know when something “isn’t right.”
Leveraging the Power of Apps
Technology has also transformed campus security by enhancing and extending safety with crowdsourcing. With virtually everyone carrying a smartphone, apps let staff members, students, faculty, and employees report anything suspicious to campus security and law enforcement. They become a network of eyes and ears that can significantly expand the capabilities of security personnel.
At the same time, such engagement rarely happens on its own. A high-visibility security team equipped with public relations skills goes a long way toward creating a culture that fosters active community participation.
Improving Situational Awareness
Another way to extend security efforts on campuses is to train students, faculty, staff, and employees to be more aware of potential security compromises and encourage them that they should say something if they see something. The second part of that strategy is to educate stakeholders to take preventive action: lock doors, don’t leave valuables unattended or in plain sight, and practice good safety habits. Of course, the easiest way to solve security issues is to stop them from happening in the first place.
Again, the right security partner can provide assistance in enhancing security awareness and encouraging people to share their observations.
Different Campuses, Different Challenges
From a security standpoint, urban and suburban campuses are very different.
Urban campuses face increased challenges around the immediate perimeter. There’s more activity and more decisions to be made. Where should lights, call boxes, and cameras be placed? Should parking garages, gates, and other forms of access control be automated or staffed? Should students, staff, or employees swipe a card or badge to gain access and capture a record of their arrival and departure?
A suburban campus might be less accessible to the general public. At the same time, controlling access points and monitoring students, staff, and visitors are still considerations. There’s always a balance between keeping a campus secure and allowing people to move freely.
Regardless of the environment, the best security practices don’t change.
- Strong security begins with solid customer service. Be friendly, learn who belongs and greet people by name. Have rules and procedures shared by the client and security personnel, on checking IDs, taking temperatures, requiring passes or hang tags for vehicles, and other security measures.
- Second, use technology to supplement and empower security officers. Bar codes, QR codes, apps and electronic passes can streamline the process while freeing security team members to analyze their surroundings and identify early warning signs.
Lingering Effects of COVID
The pandemic has changed the security process in many ways. Several organizations have instituted touchless ways to check IDs and control access and have reconfigured entrances and other spaces to decrease contact. Many take temperatures before allowing people to enter. Campuses have been forced to think differently about security, including adding barriers or limiting the number of people in a given space.
Here at Sunstates, one positive outcome of facing the pandemic challenges has been stronger partnerships and open, ongoing communications with client organizations. Sunstates has spent extensive time helping clients devise COVID-related strategies and proactively managing “what if” scenarios before they occur.
Security has changed significantly in recent years—as have the men and women providing it. No doubt, security strategies and personnel will continue to evolve for campuses of all types.
Sunstates Security provides expert security on campuses of all types, both commercial and educational, in a variety of urban and suburban settings. To discuss the benefits of our approach or to review your current security needs, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or contact us.