3 Things Colleges Overlook in Their Campus Security

Security experts from Alertus Technologies reveal 3 things colleges drop the ball on regarding campus security, and how to fix them.

By Jessica Kennedy

January 06, 2016

“The exact stuff is going to change when an event occurs,” Underwood says. “I think a lot of times, they don’t get into the minutiae of, how are we going to word a message, how is this going to be received, or testing the system to make sure everything is running properly, that the right people are in the loop. I think it’s a step that sometimes gets overlooked, and they don’t think about it until down the road.”

Tips to Fleshing Out Your College’s Security Plan

1) Launch messages to multiple channels

Whenever a college is launching a message via mass notification technologies, Underwood says it should make sure to send that message to multiple channels.

Getting messages out to more than one channel maximizes coverage, and increases the likelihood that students, faculty and staff will receive it whether or not they have their personal devices or email open.

“I think in an ideal situation, you’re hitting up those students in multiple channels,” Underwood says. “We’ve talked to customers and gotten feedback from their students that say yeah, we were overwhelmed with all the information we got in terms of receiving it through three or four different methods; so there’s no way you’re going to miss that message or what’s going on, and what steps you need to take.”

2) Be honest about the test results

Stafford says colleges should come clean while evaluating a security solution or strategy. 

Fabricating a percentage about how many people actually receive a mass notification message, for example, doesn’t mask a solution’s inefficiency. Instead, it puts more lives at risk if an actual threat arises.

Stafford says testing a solution or strategy will be an eye-opener for colleges, and give them leeway on what changes need to be made.

“Test them and be honest with yourself,” he says. “A lot of our customers have text messaging and say oh, that covers everybody;  in reality, the ones who come back and are really honest with us say, we’re lucky if even 50 percent respond to that. On those tests, get feedback so you can see where the gaps are and work hard to test the solution continually.”

3) Get the details straight

As colleges go over and revise their security strategies, they should clearly define all necessary details.

Details may include campus evacuation routes, how to react during an active shooting event, or how students can utilize a security app on their personal device.

Whatever those details spell out, Underwood says they should supplement the college’s overarching security plans, and should be easily comprehended by students, faculty and staff.

“You want to have a very comprehensive system in place, but you want to make sure you know how to use the system and have a thorough plan to execute it well,” she says. “That’s going to depend on the situation as well.”

Article topics
Campus Safety · Physical Security · View all topics
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