A Top Priority
Products with multiple purposes are becoming highly attractive
- By Molly Walsh
- Jul 01, 2016
Universities across the nation are
making safety for their students
a top priority. From installing cameras
to incorporating access control
and implementing blue light call stations,
campus security and public safety leaders
are consistently looking for ways to ensure the
safety of their community. With budget constraints
as a constant factor, integrating products that serve
multiple purposes is becoming highly attractive to the
higher education market.
Located in the heart of Seattle, adjacent to Capitol
Hill, Seattle Central College plays host to more
than 16,300 students and 950 staff members. The
campus experiences a high volume of foot traffic
due to both their student population and the public
areas, such as Capitol Hill and a city park that surround
the school grounds.
Seattle Central was looking to add an additional
layer to their public safety initiative—specifically blue
light call stations across the campus. They turned to
Elman McClain, director of public safety, for a plan.
Multiple factors went into his product search. As a
highly humid environment, emergency call stations
and blue light stations located in the Seattle area must
prevent moisture from finding a way into the unit. If
water does get into an emergency call station system, it
can affect the integrity of its operation. McClain was
looking for an option that allowed him to use the blue
light stations as more than housings for call stations.
His goal was to incorporate the benefits of mass notification
broadcasting and surveillance.
After developing a request for proposal and completing
product research, McClain chose the Talkaphone
WEBS MT/R Series Tower and Wall Mounts
for his campus’s blue light stations. Equipped with four
outdoor broadcasting speakers, local mustering capabilities
and optional dual camera arm, the decision to
install the towers was “a no brainer,” McClain said.
The campus installed Talkaphone VOIP-600 Series
Call Stations throughout the grounds. These devices
feature backlit call progress lighting for the hearing
impaired and optional trigger text, ‘help on the way’,
to alert the user to the status of the responder.
Working with integrator ABSCO Solutions as well
as the Talkaphone team, the college’s installation process
was both smooth and timely. “Our integrators
knew what they were doing from the day we started
and the manufacturer’s willingness to assist really
made life easy for me,” the director said.
As a member of the International Association of
Campus Law Enforcement (IACLEA), McClain has
a strong background and understanding of the Clery
Act as well as a passion for what it represents.
“We have legislation out there that says we need to
have these resources to help keep our campuses safe,”
Passed in 1990, the Clery Act requires colleges and
universities to outline specific policies and procedures
related to disseminating timely warnings and emergency
notifications. Seattle Central decided to use the
blue light call stations as a major part of communicating
emergency information to their community.
Regular testing of the blue light and broadcasting
system is a part of Seattle Central’s security process.
After the first test of the WEBS MT/R Tower outdoor broadcasting system, the director is extremely
satisfied with his choice, saying
the speakers are extremely clear, and
Blue light call stations, such as the
towers installed at Seattle Central College,
serve as two-way communication
points between the public and the security
force. A user can report an issue
to the authorities but the broadcasting
capabilities also allow the security team
to circulate information to the public
during a situation.
“The towers are both a visual reassurance
and a crime deterrent for my
community,” McClain said. “People see
the towers and know that assistance is
just a button push away.”
The addition of the dual cameras
on the towers at Seattle Central adds
another layer of assurance. If the user
is unable to speak to the security team,
the officers are still able to obtain a visual
of the situation. “It’s really nice that
the system shows the specific location
where the tower is being used. Our officers
can start evaluating the needs of
the situation—whether it’s assistance or
a true emergency,” McClain said.
The tower’s local muster capability
helps Seattle Central effectively use
the blue light stations as complete resources.
While the security officers can
use the local mustering for emergency
situations, such as a hazardous materials
alert, the public safety department
has also teamed up with student government
to use this function for nonemergency
circumstances. “We plan
on allowing the student government to
use the station’s local mustering during
upcoming fair events on campus,”
Students at Seattle Central College
are happy to see the towers stationed
around campus and student leadership
has requested the installation of more
units. Parents have also expressed their
gratitude for the campus’s focus on safety.
“When parents walk on campus
and see these great big blue towers with
lights and cameras on them, they think
‘our kids are going to be safe here’,” Mc-
Clain said. “They know we are surveying
the campus and keeping an eye out.”
The students at Seattle Central
know that when they push one of the
emergency buttons, they will get a human
being on the other side of the line
and that their call will be responded to.
“We always respond to a button
push because sometimes you can’t
talk,” McClain said.
The Department of Public Safety
also provides a map showing the locations
of the blue light stations as well as
an instructional video on their website.
Looking towards the future for his
campus, the director envisions integrating
indoor emergency call stations
as well as adding additional blue light
stations to the outdoor areas of campus.
His goal is to expand the uses of
the towers and call boxes on campus. In
regards to the existing towers on campus,
McClain is satisfied with his current
installation. “These guys are battle
tested,” he said. “They are the number
one we can rely on.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Security Today.