Managing Security of a Closed Campus
As countries around the world declare Coronavirus a national emergency, universities across the globe are electing to partially or fully close their campus as a precautionary measure to help keep students and staff safe, and slow the spread of the virus. The impact is felt severely by the public safety, security and emergency management organizations are faced with the challenge of managing the security and safety of a campus that is operating in a very different environment.
Unique Challenges Tied to Managing a Closed Campus:
The challenges we are seeing represents a strategic shift from a public safety mindset to predominantly a security and wellbeing focus.
We will see significantly fewer people on campus, however with the increased risks related to campus buildings and the safety of those operating in a mostly deserted environment, university officials are faced with a myriad of challenges evolving alongside the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the university response to the changing landscape, including:
- Doing more with the same or less security resources to cover the campus effectively, providing a deterrent to threats to the campus
- Engaging with personnel in other departments to utilize them in the case of closing campus or emergencies (Building engineers, Fire Wardens, Janitors)
- Lone Worker safety and wellbeing for people who need to access site or need to use designated facility (Life Science, Chemistry, research labs)
- Effectively dealing with incidents and engaging with those on campus – using their eyes and ears
- Provide reassurance to those still on campus that their safety and security is a top agenda for the university
- Establishing new practices for maintaining site access control
- Communicating with key resources and those remaining on campus (internally and externally)
- Welfare of international students and those remaining behind in campus accommodation/dorms
- Ensuring staff and students who are self-isolated are in regular communication/receiving advice or medical support
How to Ensure a Comprehensive Organizational Response
University senior executive teams and public safety leaders are beginning to ask a range of questions tied to the closing a campus and the ongoing management of the campus, including:
- How can our teams secure one or more widely dispersed campuses with limited resources, while also facilitating access to the site?
- How can we ensure designated areas have been adequately patrolled so we can prevent damaged property, trespassing and looting?
- How can the leadership team know the location and availability of patrol officers, contracted security guards and other resources and then coordinate and deploy resources for optimal coverage and response?
- What’s the best way to be certain we’re maintaining a fixed presence at entry and exit points?
- How do we implement appropriate safety protocols for those who still need to access a mostly deserted campus?
- For those students who have remained in university managed residences (mostly international students), how do we provide 24/7 safety, security and welfare to them?
- With so many vacant buildings, how can the University respond 24/7 to fire alarms in an efficient manner, account for any lone worker and ensure the building is evacuated safely?
- Where are our students and staff when still on site?
Tapping into Technology for Solutions:
As universities explore creative solutions to solve these challenges, they frequently follow best practice and look to technology to act as a force multiplier to help support this difficult transition. CriticalArc’s customers are solving these challenges using SafeZone™, our flagship offering. Through real-time visualization, communications and response coordination, SafeZone has established a new benchmark for protecting a university that streamlines operations, is easy to use and quick to deploy to meet the unique challenges tied to closing a campus.
Streamlined Solution to Managing a Closed Campus:
SafeZone is a secure, cloud-based solution which can be custom-configured and fully deployed in just a couple days so it’s ideal for universities looking for a quick and easy way to meet pressing deadlines. The software is uniquely suited to assist campus police, public safety, and emergency management organizations with closing and protecting a university campus, including the ability to support:
Physical Security Across the Site
- Heat-map reports provide live and historical depictions of where, when and how often your team patrolled designated areas (including roving patrols), so you can validate and optimize coverage
- See real-time views of fixed posts so you can verify they’re consistently covered by campus security
Effective Oversight to Coordinate Resources
- Real-time visibility of the location and availability of campus patrol officers and contracted security guards so you can direct resources for optimal coverage and response to critical incidents
- Ability to selectively coordinate actions for the senior executive team – to know where they are and send a targeted message to quickly initiate an emergency meeting
- Automatic check-in of full-time and contracted security teams so that anytime they enter/exit a campus perimeter or other designated zone, they are automatically checked in/out
- Provide guidance to contract resources that aren’t familiar with campus in the event they get lost or aren’t properly covering their sector or designated area
- Record critical incidents, including when and where the incident was first reported, the nature of the incident, the availability and location of each first responder as the incident unfolds, and the duration of response. Your command team can use the data to coach and train your security team and optimize performance.
Enhance the Safety & Performance of First Responders:
- Because officers can see one another’s location in real-time, and in relation to critical incidents, the situational awareness offers the ability for officers to quickly back one another up for added safety, and also supports faster response by the closest available campus police officer or security guard
Implementing Safety Protocols for Those Who Require Access to Campus
- Due to the research-based nature of universities, and the need to maintain campus operations, there are several specific groups that require ongoing access to the campus, including facilities maintenance staff, lab personnel for the sciences, research personnel, and others.
- With SafeZone, these groups can easily check-in via the app so campus police and security personnel are aware of their presence and can ensure they have access to the necessary facilities and proactively check in with them to make sure they feel safe.
There’s no question the challenges of Coronavirus present unprecedented challenges, at the scale and pace never before seen by campus police and campus security teams. As campuses are closed, command teams will likely struggle with the transition from public safety to more of a security focus as they protect the vital assets of university campuses across the globe. And when faced with a limited resources, tight deadlines, and rapidly evolving conditions, SafeZone represents a dynamic solution that can instantly add value to help address the challenges.
If you’d like to learn how SafeZone can help your organization deliver these capabilities, please request a demo.