With the increase in digital learning, life on campus and the integration of technology have evolved considerably. Many colleges and universities are looking to technology to enhance campus security and student and staff safety. Technology is now called upon to help fight against theft, vandalism, and violence on campuses across the nation.
The protection of students, faculty, and staff as well as facilities and equipment now require administrators to evaluate vulnerabilities and potential risks and proactively move to mitigate issues regarding security. Physical violence and stalking offenses are the most reported crimes in Illinois colleges and universities.
This type of crime might best be addressed with the installation of visible security devices and the presence of campus security officers. Unfortunately, funding campus security teams can be impractical for schools with limited budgets. This is where smart technology, while requiring a significant initial investment, can have a long-term effect in improving on-campus safety.
What Is Smart Technology?
We all know what technology is, but what makes some technology “smart”? Netlingo defines smart technology as that which refers to the acronym “smart” or Self-monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting tech. Technology that permits inanimate objects and devices to respond to us and our needs.
Smart technology includes smart devices, connected devices, and IoT devices and appliances. Objects and tools such as smartphones or smart security cameras can be directly programmed and feature some automation.
Smart-connected devices are tools that are connected and remotely controlled using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other apps that use connectivity. The Internet of Things (IoT) devices are even more advanced as they will use a combination of software applications, the Internet, and analytics. Several examples include AI security cameras, smart locks, and so much more. Eventually, connectivity may become so advanced that distinctions among connected devices will no longer exist.
Is Smart Technology the Key to Safety On-Campus?
Can smart technology improve campus safety? School administrators can remedy this issue through the development of smart security systems. When students and their families are investing large amounts of financial resources for their education, they don’t want to have to worry about safety.
Smart security systems integrate AI analytics software to detect suspicious persons, behaviors, vehicles, and even suspected weapons. The system will then alert security teams, and local authorities while triggering physical devices such as door locks and alarms providing campus staff and students with tools for deterring and responding to crimes.
Here are several examples of how high-tech is stepping up to the challenge.
Smart Access and Identification
Intrusion on campuses by bad actors is a threat that school administrators take most seriously, so the verification of identities becomes essential to entering and moving about university facilities with ease and rapidity. Many campuses now use some type of access control system that might utilize digital credentials on a smartphone or mobile device, chip-embedded ID cards, or biometrics for proper identification.
Biometrics, which will establish credentials using a unique physical characteristic such as faces, irises, or fingerprints can be especially efficacious in securing areas that ideally have limited access authorizations such as laboratories, offices, or student housing among others.
Despite the advantages of security technology, the capabilities of human observers to recognize threats are unparalleled. As just about everyone always has a smartphone, mobile safety apps allow students and staff to send messages about perceived threats or suspicious behavior to App-based security management systems. Staff and security personnel are alerted immediately, and alarms are activated.
Some safety apps are free, however, colleges can utilize more advanced applications that are cloud-based and connect directly to security teams, and furnish a GPS location improving response time with security on-site within minutes. This technology can even record incidents or bad actors. Information is then stored securely on a cloud-based server for later use by law enforcement in investigations.
No security team can cover an entire campus 24/7, so administrators are integrating school surveillance cameras into safety strategies to increase their observation capabilities. To increase the benefits of security viewing, video cameras are connected to a unified security management platform that allows for remote management on or off campus, the storage of video footage for later use, and the integration of Artificial Intelligence.
AI analytics can analyze suspicious or anomalous behavior and alert security personnel in real-time permitting immediate intervention. This prevents obligating costly security personnel to engage in continuous viewing in the event of a security threat, freeing them to work on other operations. If privacy is a consideration, new technologies integrate pixelation which will blur faces on video. Should identification be necessary, authorities can view videos without privacy pixelation.
IoT Security Capabilities
Safety threats do not all arrive from humans with bad intentions. IoT offers a great deal of security potential, from acoustic or environmental temperature sensors to sensors for the detection of fire, flooding, smoke, indoor air quality, carbon monoxide, and even illegal substances. IoT devices such as smart locks and security lighting using time-based controls can automatically secure areas during evenings and weekends.
Smart Technology and Campus Security
Smart technology permits school administrators, security personnel, and even local authorities to receive alerts in real time for potential threats and problems. Doors can be locked and unlocked, lockdowns triggered, digital credentials issued and revoked, and authorities and first responders contacted all within seconds. The collection of data and AI analytics can provide insights into vulnerabilities or behavior issues before serious incidents take place. If smart technology is not “the” key, it is one of the keys to providing greater student and staff safety.