5 Tips for Buying Campus Security Systems

These tips will help you shape security system purchasing conversations before sending out RFPs, keeping stakeholders informed.

5 Tips for Buying Campus Security Systems

When buying security systems, campus public safety, security and IT decision makers have so many choices on their hands. Is a networked solution the way to go instead of a wired one? Should you focus exclusively on cameras, or a solution that ties in multiple monitoring points onto other systems?

Those questions are big ones that will ultimately be answered by the top decision makers (tip #0.5: our sister publication Commercial Integrator already assembled an RFP template for a surveillance system once you’ve determined what your organization needs!).

But the following tips are intended to help shape those conversations before sending out RFPs and to keep every stakeholder informed so they know a bit more about what they’re asking for.

Tip #1: Hire a True Security Integrator

No matter what your desired system, don’t just use a low voltage contractor who dabbles in security. Actual security integrators have the expertise not only to ensure your system is secure and reliable, but they also know how to tie-in with other building operations if needed.

Tip #2: Ensure Proper Configuration

Dan Gundry, Director of Sales and Marketing at Vistacom, says it is critical to properly configure the security network switches for IGMP multicast and adequate backplane processing before the integrator even gets there.

Ensure IP cameras are transmitting multiple streams: a forensic-level resolution (for operator use and recording) as well as an overview-level resolution for viewing on your command center video wall or ancillary displays.

Also, typical problems that arise during installation include gaining access to administrative accounts for software installation, having enough IP addresses for new equipment, enough IT bandwidth to support the new devices, access to the building or device locations, unexpected lighting conditions, disruptive noise from drilling and installing devices, and having the right mounting hardware ordered.

These all are issues that can be prevented by holding a job kick off meeting, setting clear expectations and opening lines of communication to be used throughout the project, and conducting a site walkthrough to be sure all obstacles are identified and accounted for in advance.

Tip #3: Ensure Interoperability of Your Security Cameras

Proprietary features and wrappers may sound good on paper, but open formats allow for better situational awareness across multiple platforms, Gundry says.

Similarly, it’s important to leverage a video surveillance system’s built-in automation and AI features when and where it fits within your concept of operations.

Tip #4: Avoid Situational Blindness at the Operator Level

Plan the operator/dispatcher workstation appropriately to match the scope of the project now and, potentially, in the future if the system is to expand.

Tip #5: Buy a Secure Security System

Typical commercial security systems consist of basic components typically spread out over a network of different locations.

Sometimes, these areas are shared or provide common space for other systems that may be left unsecure, or simply accessed by other vendors servicing their network-based devices, such as life-safety or environmental systems.

Left unattended, these situations can become critical points of failure and lead to tampering or disconnecting of systems, often leading to a host of other issues.

You can get ahead of such problems by ensuring you have a form “C” tamper switch on critical control devices that may not be programmed or tied into the security enterprise, thus not able to provide a security alert if the IP device is accessed.


This article originally appeared in CS sister publication MyTechDecisions.com and has been edited. Adam Forziati is a web editor with TD.

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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

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