Simplifying Campus Security with IoT Devices

IoT-enabled solutions give campuses the ability to connect different security technologies, provide real-time alerts and data-driven insights.

Simplifying Campus Security with IoT Devices

IoT is an ever-growing network of physical devices that features unique IP addresses for internet connectivity and communication.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has provided endless possibilities in the digital frontier. As the interconnectivity movement has made its way into the physical security industry, these new technologies have the opportunity to make campus security smarter and more efficient than ever before. With an increasing number of school security breaches dominating the news cycle, intelligent solutions are needed to safeguard both students and faculty. Emerging IoT technology and Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs) are showing promise to help schools, universities and healthcare facilities minimize threats and address emergency situations swiftly.

While many are still seeking to learn more about the capabilities of IoT and PLDs as well as their limitations, the devices aren’t overly complicated when the user is given the right amount of training. IoT-enabled solutions give campuses the ability to connect technologies from different areas of security, — from perimeter video surveillance to internal access control — to provide real-time alerts and data-driven insights for administrators.

What is IoT?

What exactly is IoT, and what makes it valuable for security deployments? IoT is an ever-growing network of physical devices that features unique IP addresses for internet connectivity and communication. IoT devices are generally intelligent, combining capabilities and enabling advanced automation functions that allow for streamlined security protocols. These devices collect data, but unlike traditional security equipment, they take it a step further with the ability to exchange and analyze the data they collect.

Thanks to real-time alerts, IoT security sensors can lead to improved situational awareness and incident response times. The utilization of IoT means that data can be processed and relayed much faster than traditional systems. When a video surveillance device communicates with an access control system, it allows administrators access to instantaneous updates on potential threats.

The digital trail of incidents that IoT enabled security solutions can provide is another invaluable asset of these systems. Having access to data regarding physical security breaches, whether it’s from video surveillance footage or access management timestamps, helps users not only decipher a situation but also aid in optimizing the structure of their security systems to ensure it does not happen again.

For campuses, this is becoming a game-changer, giving administrators the ability to deliver unprecedented levels of security by implementing smart technologies that allow for a holistic approach to public safety. As many of these devices have a wide array of functions, they provide a hefty cost savings to school administrators looking for systems that can pull double duty.

IoT Enhances Basic Security Measures

Many schools employ basic forms of video surveillance, access management and emergency communications to create safer environments. While video surveillance allows for constant monitoring to deter crime, including bullying on campus, access management ensures the flow of visitors on school grounds that is both supervised and controlled. For dire situations, emergency communication systems allow school administrators to more easily transmit alerts for lockdowns, severe weather events and medical incidents.

Each technology is powerful as a standalone tool, documenting happenings on campus and allowing administrators to better communicate in a crisis, but when combined together, they can provide insights and alerts to vastly improve campus security. By integrating these functions and adding intelligence, these security devices not only become smarter, but their reach is extended.

Due to their robust capabilities, these types of IoT-enabled systems are often made up of Programmable Logic Devices (PLDs). Simply put, this means they can be programmed to perform a logic function.  Think “if this, then that.” This means that IF the camera sensor recognizes the face of a blacklisted individual, THEN an alert is automatically sent to administrators, and, depending upon the severity of the situation, the police. While this PLD may look like a typical video surveillance camera, it performs less like its traditional counterpart and more like a computer with a lens.

When installed, a single IoT-enabled PLD may be equipped with multiple sensors and abilities, such as a camera for surveillance or identity verification (if needed), a keypad RFID module for access management, speakers for two-way communications and even emergency alert buttons for instant connection to law enforcement. By merging these technologies into a single device, schools can easily save money on installation costs, labor costs and an overall reduction in points of failure, which often cut deeply into their small budgets.

Improve Safety Through Automation

When it comes to security, the human element can often be the weakest. In times of emergency, no matter how prepared, it is natural for humans to panic and lose sight of security protocols that in turn leaves training and equipment less effective or even useless. It is in these moments that PLDs shine and prove to be more reliable in critical moments where time is of the essence.

By implementing IoT-enabled logic devices, these systems not only monitor but recognize and analyze issues in real-time. For campuses not equipped with IoT-connected solutions, school administrators may not be aware of a crisis on campus until it is too late to intervene. By the time the correct personnel have been made aware of an issue and have initiated a lockdown, the process of calling law enforcement, notifying parents and assessing the situation, unfortunately, becomes more about damage control than prevention.

For schools equipped with IoT connected PLDs, these scenes play out much differently. When a situation arises, students or faculty nearby can quickly press an emergency alert button on the PLD. This button not only calls police but it also automatically sends a campus-wide notification to designated personnel. All of this takes place within a span of 25 seconds. By removing the human element from security procedures, automation improves safety and reduces the chances of failure at any point in the chain of command.

In emergency situations, consistency is the key. By removing the possibility of human error, these intelligent systems offer more reliable performance. Once programmed, logic devices are designed to work the same way in all circumstances, making their actions predictable. This creates an interconnected and agile solution that monitors risks, recognizes threats and creates alerts without the need for intervention. These new advanced technologies can help prevent tragedies from happening. If and when an emergency does happen, these same technologies can work to minimize damages as precious seconds can mean anything from diffusing a tense situation to actually saving lives.

Joe Byron is vice president of sales at Americas for Mobotix.

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