Managing Campus Security with Integrated Solutions

Deploying Enhanced VMS or PSIM can improve security and achieve interoperability among disparate systems. Here’s how you can decide which solution is best for your institution.

A rash of incidents on college and hospital campuses has placed security technology in the spotlight. Video surveillance, intercoms, access control, mass notification and blue light phones are all staples of campus security. But are healthcare and academic institutions using these solutions to their fullest potential?

Consider video, for example. CCTV cameras are a fixture of nearly every university campus.

“Video has always been a force multiplier but it’s not an absolute solution,” explains John Matherson, an independent information technology and physical security technology consultant specializing in higher education, local and state government. Prior to striking out on his own, Matherson served as the director of emergency communications and security systems at the University of Chicago. He had also managed the campus ID office and physical security technology program for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. “Cameras don’t stop crime, but they are a visual deterrent and they do augment the physical presence of the police department.”

According to Matherson, video from security cameras is a valuable forensic tool for solving the types of crimes that typically occur on campus, which frequently involve theft. Campus security departments, however, are starting to evolve their thinking around situational awareness beyond just having video, and beyond video’s value solely as a deterrent or forensic tool.

This is in line with the findings of a recent IHS research report that concludes schools are looking to security technology to detect and manage incidents in real time. Accordingly, the security industry is moving toward cohesive solutions, such as enhanced video management systems (Enhanced VMS) and physical security information management (PSIM) solutions, which provide better situational awareness and incident management capabilities.

Disparate Video Systems Pose Challenges

One common problem on campuses is a lack of standardization on one video system, which makes it impossible for campus police or security departments to have a real-time campus-wide view of what’s going on.

RELATED: 4 Questions to Ask When Selecting a System

“It’s fairly common on campuses to have many independent video systems that are not centrally controlled by one department,” says Matherson. “This can present a challenge to public safety when incidents take place because they have to go to those particular locations rather than view video from their own workstations. In such environments, there’s no real-time access.

Dr. Bob Banerjee, senior director of training and development for NICE Systems’ Security Division says that up until now, it was quite common for every department to have its own budget. “Unless there was a unified decision to have a single point of command and control, each department did what it wanted with that money,” he claims. “It’s common to see a situation where you have multiple VMS systems. I’ve seen as many as five different systems on a single campus.”

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