A Universal Solution

Hillsborough Community College improve security infrastructure

In recent years, colleges across the country have upgraded and improved the way they monitor, assess and respond to security incidents on campus. Unfortunately for many departments around the country, the continuing economic downturn has led to budget and staff reductions, which in turn have posed a serious challenge to college police and security departments. As a result, campuses now have to rely on improved infrastructure and tools in order to police their respective populations more efficiently.

Emergency phones have been an important part of the security landscape at educational institutions for some time. Beginning as simple two-way communication devices, they have evolved into multipurpose tools for improving campus safety and security. Newer devices can not only provide needed assistance to distressed individuals, they can remotely monitor areas when officers aren’t available, tie-in with access control devices and video management systems and broadcast mass notification messages to large areas on campus.

Knowing that these tools are now available, many colleges have started looking at emergency phone towers as a way to leverage their infrastructure investment and compensate for cuts in budgets and staff.

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Florida has been at the forefront of adapting its security infrastructure and police force to unfortunate budgetary cuts and staff limitations. In order to overcome these constraints and properly police its 48,000-student enrollment, HCC turned to Talk-A-Phone Co.

A Towering Force

Victor Clime, chief of public safety for HCC, was introduced to Talk-a-Phone’s emergency phone towers that incorporate emergency communication, mass notification, camera surveillance and access control capabilities. He said the towers are able to increase the effectiveness, capability and response of the his depleted department.

“Our towers used to only be emergency phone towers,” Clime said. “We now have emergency phone towers with mass notification capabilities, cameras and other tools. Because of budgetary constraints, every safety department across the country thinks they’re undermanned. I certainly felt the same way. “These towers act as a force multiplier for me. They provide eyes and ears to my officers. They provide a voice when I need one. It allows us to quickly respond to situations and patrol more effectively. It was definitely an investment that was worthwhile.”

There are dozens of emergency phone towers installed across the college’s five campuses. Sporting a safety blue color and intense LED blue light on top, the towers are hard to miss during both day and night. The number, size and visibility of the towers create an easily identifiable perimeter around and throughout each Hillsborough campus.

“We even have them in our most remote locations,” Clime said. “Students are aware that these units are around. While on campus, you can’t look in any direction without seeing a tower. They remind students and visitors that my guys are always ready and watching. I know that students appreciate them, and I know my officers do, too.”

A Potentially Vital Connection

The towers act as a two-way communication device with an uninterrupted connection. This means that a person needs only to activate the tower once in order to have a continuous connection to the campus police or dispatcher. This feature is especially helpful for people who need the use of their hands during an emergency. Additionally, every time a tower is activated, the exact location of the unit is relayed to the dispatch center. This saves the dispatch center time in trying to figure out the location of the call, especially if the person who activated the tower does not know his or her location or cannot respond verbally.

“When someone activates a unit, our department immediately knows their location and what’s going on,” Clime said. “This has shortened our response time and improved our service provision to the college as a whole.”

In order to police the college’s sprawling campuses, the chief maximized the efficiency of his patrolling police force. With a lack of officers available, Clime again saw his new emergency phone towers as the solution. Extended on an architectural CCTV arm above each tower are dome PTZ cameras that provide surveillance before, during and after an activation. With these cameras, Clime’s dispatch center was able to watch all areas of campus while working shorthanded. The towers act as patrolling officers, relaying up-to-date information at a moment’s notice.

“We’ve had instances where we’ve identified suspicious activity on campus through our cameras,” Clime said. “In one case, we had someone trying to break into several vehicles on the far side of campus. Students saw this and activated a tower. We saw this through our cameras, and our department responded immediately. We were able to catch the person and stop the crime.”

Furthermore, the cameras can help identify people during an activation— not only the person who activates the unit but others who are at access control points and gates, as well.

Whole Campus Protection

Another benefit for Clime and his officers is the mass notification capabilities of the towers. Near the top of each tower are four highpowered speakers capable of providing 360-degree coverage.

“Hillsborough Community College had to be in compliance with mandates, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, requiring mass notification capability across campus,” Clime said. “What was great about our new towers is that they not only provide us with emergency communication and ‘eyes in the sky,’ but they also include mass notification capabilities.”

During an emergency event, there may be a need to send out a mass notification message. Visitors, faculty, staff and even students may not have immediate or direct access to college emails, texts or other lines of communication. The towers cover any of those voids and make sure that if a message needs to be sent out, everyone on campus will receive clear and detailed information. The dispatch center can broadcast from towers individually or in groups. This allows Clime’s department to send specific messages to some or all areas of campus with ease.

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    Perimeter Security Standards for Multi-Site Businesses

    When you run or own a business that has multiple locations, it is important to set clear perimeter security standards. By doing this, it allows you to assess and mitigate any potential threats or risks at each site or location efficiently and effectively. Read Now

  • Getting in Someone’s Face

    There was a time, not so long ago, when the tradeshow industry must have thought COVID-19 might wipe out face-to-face meetings. It sure seemed that way about three years ago. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West
  • ISC West 2024 is a Rousing Success

    The 2024 ISC West security tradeshow marked a pivotal moment in the industry, showcasing cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions to address evolving security challenges. Exhibitors left the event with a profound sense of satisfaction, as they witnessed a high level of engagement from attendees and forged valuable connections with potential clients and partners. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West
  • Live From ISC West: Day 2

    What a great show ISC West 2024 has been so far. The second day on Thursday was as busy or even more hectic than the first. Remember to keep tabs on our Live From ISC West page for news and updates from the show floor at the Sands Expo, because there’s more news coming out than anyone could be expected to keep track of. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • PE80 Series

    PE80 Series by SARGENT / ED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin

    ASSA ABLOY, a global leader in access solutions, has announced the launch of two next generation exit devices from long-standing leaders in the premium exit device market: the PE80 Series by SARGENT and the PED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin. These new exit devices boast industry-first features that are specifically designed to provide enhanced safety, security and convenience, setting new standards for exit solutions. The SARGENT PE80 and Corbin Russwin PED4000/PED5000 Series exit devices are engineered to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern buildings. Featuring the high strength, security and durability that ASSA ABLOY is known for, the new exit devices deliver several innovative, industry-first features in addition to elegant design finishes for every opening. 3

  • ResponderLink

    ResponderLink

    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • A8V MIND

    A8V MIND

    Hexagon’s Geosystems presents a portable version of its Accur8vision detection system. A rugged all-in-one solution, the A8V MIND (Mobile Intrusion Detection) is designed to provide flexible protection of critical outdoor infrastructure and objects. Hexagon’s Accur8vision is a volumetric detection system that employs LiDAR technology to safeguard entire areas. Whenever it detects movement in a specified zone, it automatically differentiates a threat from a nonthreat, and immediately notifies security staff if necessary. Person detection is carried out within a radius of 80 meters from this device. Connected remotely via a portable computer device, it enables remote surveillance and does not depend on security staff patrolling the area. 3