Advancing Campus Security Through Thoughtful Design

September marks Campus Safety Month—a whole month dedicated to bringing awareness to campus security, just in time for college students to head back to classes. Sadly, the reality of today’s world demands more safety precautions than ever before.

To put things into perspective, there were over 20,000 reported criminal incidents on campuses throughout the U.S in 2020.

While these numbers might be disheartening, they serve as a reminder of the need to keep striving for safer environments through security design.

Security Cameras

Having security cameras properly configured and maintained is a key move towards making colleges safer. Over 90% of colleges and universities said they have some sort of video surveillance system in 2022 (Campus Safety Video Surveillance Survey, 2022).

A college campus is a hub of activity, with people always on the move, walking between buildings and coming and going from campus.

BrightTree Studios’ Principal of security design, Bruce Yoch says, “Campuses want to be open and welcoming but at the same time safe and secure.”

Security designs for these institutions should provide situational awareness to the security staff, while not being so intrusive that the welcoming environment is no longer there.

Security designs should also consider the movement of staff, students and visitors throughout the campus.

Yoch says, “It’s important that security systems take into account all aspects of the campus environment, so if there is an incident, there’s a way to alert people.”

Cameras have become a common sight on most college campuses, and they’re an effective tool for assisting in investigations.

In fact, over half of universities say their security cameras were helpful in such situations (Campus Safety Video Surveillance Survey, 2022). While that’s a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that there’s room for improvement in the accuracy of security systems at universities.

So how can universities increase their security system accuracy?

Maintaining Security Cameras

Most universities struggle with maintaining security cameras.

Only 25% of colleges and universities have conducted monthly or quarterly site security assessments, and 11% say they don’t do security assessments at all (Campus Safety Video Surveillance Survey, 2022).

Yoch says, “Security systems, like all technology, require maintenance.”

He stresses that security staff must keep up with these items, updating them, cleaning them, reviewing any issues with the camera’s focus and that ­­they’re not being vandalized.

Adam Hayduk, BrightTree Studios’ Senior Security Designer says he always writes into the specs to not only train the system user on how to operate the systems, but also how to maintain them.

This is a vital step in addressing how end users can push past potential glitches or camera maintenance issues.

Enhancing campus security is crucial, and to achieve this, universities must focus on maintaining and upgrading their security camera systems regularly. By doing so, we can enhance the safety of students during their college years.

Finding the right designer

To stay off the list of the 11% of universities skipping security assessments—team up with the right security designers. These professionals outline essential details and expectations for integrators, programmers and security officers.

“It’s important to design systems that are both easy to use and flexible,” says Yoch.

He creates designs with usability for the security staff as a top priority. Recognizing that many universities face staffing shortages, he often considers technology like analytics to ease the job of a security officer. This enables cameras to detect events in real time, no longer demanding a security officer’s full attention on every single camera.

At BrightTree, we offer security, audiovisual, telecom and acoustics. Hayduk says, “We work well as a team to make sure that security is incorporated into every little piece.” He stresses how BrightTree ties all of these services together for the safety of students and staff.

By fostering collaboration and support among designers, integrators and programmers, universities can proactively prevent these challenges from impacting campus safety. This approach guarantees that the implemented technology operates exactly according to its intended design – a crucial aspect.

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