Preparing for the Worst, Just in Case

Four years ago, Coastal Carolina University looked to fix the broken call boxes on its campus. With the help of Myrtle Beach Communications and Motorola, not only did the university receive upgraded call boxes, it also installed numerous IP cameras to monitor the entire campus.

New Call Boxes Enable Faster Response Time
Back in 2004, phone lines were few and far between at the university, and the lack of lines was one reason why the call boxes didn’t function properly. Adding lines was not an option because they were too expensive.

Another challenge the university faced was that of power; in certain areas, it was not cost effective to install power. “[The university] wanted a [call box system] that would withstand all the irregularities of power restraints and outages, or if the network or Internet is down,” says Hocutt.

With that in mind, Motorola designed a system that would allow the university to function without the use of phone lines. Removing leased T1 lines, Motorola installed a wireless Ethernet system. Now CCU has more than 80 call boxes distributed across the campus both indoors and outdoors. For indoor applications, CCU used the ACB series, which has a back-up power supply by chance there is a power outage.

The outdoor units, Motorola’s a1410 Solar Call Boxes, also have a back-up power supply. The solution operates on a two-way radio system, which allows the university to function on a single system.

The two-way radio system permits all officers to hear if there is a crisis on campus, giving them the opportunity to respond appropriately to the situation. When a student, faculty member or staff member presses the button on the call box, a dispatcher in the public safety department is able to respond to that individual.

As the solution is activated, a message is sent over the airwaves to every officer who has a radio, whether the radio is installed in a vehicle or is being carried. According to Weisner, “A lot of the time, the officers are already en route to the area when they hear the message. That’s good because that officer can hear firsthand whatever the issue may be.”

Hocutt agrees and praises the department for its quick response time. “When I first installed the system, I didn’t tell dispatch that I was working on the boxes,” he explains. “I would hit the button [on accident], and the next thing I knew, I had three officers standing in front of me.” During that “practice run,” Hocutt says the response time was less than a minute. Additionally, the call boxes reset themselves within five minutes after they have been activated.

Prior to the installation of the new system, campus safety personnel were unaware when an incident took place.

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