Security dispatch software for College and University Campuses

2020-07-23 17:53:00

Most students attending college will never realize the advantages security dispatching software is providing for their overall learning environment. Safety is too often assumed to be someone else's responsibility if it is given a thought at all. Even a minor incident on campus can, however, bring about awareness from those who were previously ambivalent about the safety of their surroundings.

Institutions of higher learning produce a unique culture in both their physical campuses and student body behavior. What used to be the traditional college student, that is to say, those from about the age of 17 to 24, still occupy a large portion of these institution's enrollment. However, as any college or university security professional can attest, the diversity of people on today’s campuses makes many of them not unlike small towns serving citizens of all ages. 

Nearly all colleges and even more universities have a dedicated team of security professionals as part of their operating model. In this article, the term security will include those campuses with their own police departments as well as those with traditional security officers. Regardless of their title, the goal is the safety of the students, staff, and visitors on their campuses. Security dispatching software is playing a vital part in that goal as the following examples will reveal. 

Security Dispatch Software and Threat Mitigation

The safety of colleges and universities goes well beyond the classroom. Aided in part by security dispatching software, security teams also provide protection for other facets of higher learning including student housing, sports stadiums, extracurricular activities, and research facilities. Don is the director of security for a college in the Southwest U.S. with an enrollment of about 8,000 students. When asked about his team's use of security dispatch software, he stated, "We rely on technology to help us get ahead of any potential problems. Dispatchers and officers are in constant communication thanks to our smartphones and laptops being linked."

Don described an incident last year in which a suspicious person was reported on their campus. He continued, “My dispatcher took the call from a staff member who said something just didn’t seem right. She found the guy on the surveillance camera and could tell one of our officers was in the same area. Having our team equipped with GPS meant a quick response. She sent him a photo of the suspect directly to his cell phone and the officer located him in less than one minute after the call came in." While this incident turned out to be a contractor who had not checked in with security, Don and his staff use this as an example of how security dispatch software and its associated technology worked to quickly mitigate a potential threat.

The Role of Security Dispatch Software in Crime Prevention Measures

Examining patterns in criminal and suspicious incidents is a proven method for determining the best use of resources. By analyzing the data from the security dispatch software system, security professionals can develop strategic and operational plans to reduce such incidents on their campus. Logic dictates the best use of personnel and equipment is in a manner that prevents crime and policy violation incidents from occurring in the first place. Data analytics obtained from security software systems helps focus efforts and stretch the limited resources of campus security teams.

Renee is a captain with a campus police department in Florida. She finds the use of data to benefit her agency’s efforts in ways that did not exist when she started her career. “In a matter of minutes, I can see what types of incidents have been reported in a given period of time,” Renee said, “I recently used our dispatching software and found a high number of auto burglaries in two of our parking areas.” Renee said she examined the data to narrow down days and times of these break-ins and cross-referenced it with class schedules to determine how long the victim’s cars had been parked in the lots on the days of the burglaries. She continued, “I think back on how different these types of investigations were a few decades ago. Working with a dispatcher, we were able to pinpoint the most probable time of these burglaries and establish a plan.” 

Her team used a combination of efforts. First, an awareness campaign reminding students and staff to remove valuables and lock their car doors. Next, the use of plainclothes officers and surveillance at the appropriate time and place. Finally, the installation of additional security cameras and signs posted to that effect. 

When asked about the results of her department's efforts, Renee stated, "We made an arrest on our second night, but kept going strong with the awareness campaign. We emailed students and faculty and posted signs about our cameras and as a reminder to lock car doors."  The combination of deterrence and technology worked well on Renee's campus. She concluded by noting, "Our dispatching software has proven to do so much more than manage our active calls. The ease of getting information from past incidents has helped prevent crime and keep our campus safer."

The Future of Security Dispatching Software on Campus

Modern campus security and police agencies require adaptable and customizable dispatch software systems. Cloud-based technology with SSL encryption is quickly becoming the industry standard. Future technologies, especially those involving student and campus safety, are naturally going to require a combination of high quality, interoperability, and budget-conscious attributes. Colleges and universities are in the business of fostering advanced education. When students, faculty, and staff feel safe, the learning environment is enhanced. For the professionals tasked with ensuring that safety, the use of security dispatching software increases their effectiveness and efficiency