Plan Of Action

Campuses can provide prominent crime deterrents

As concerns for campus safety rapidly rise within higher education communities, it is important to implement a proactive plan as the first step to acknowledging your security needs.

Located in Southern California, Irvine Valley College (IVC) is situated on an open, 60-acre campus dotted with modern facilities and amenities. A part of the Southern Orange County Community College District, Irvine Valley has more than 14,000 enrolled students and an additional five hundred faculty members residing at their campus. With a high amount of foot traffic, it became apparent that safety and access regulation must be a top priority for Irvine Valley College.

Anna Petrossian, assistant director of facilities, capital outlay projects and the decision team consisting of Chief of Police Will Glen, Director of IT Bruce Hagan, Director of Facilities Jeffrey Hurlbut and President Glenn Roquemore, saw the lack of a cohesive campus safety program at IVC. With multiple entrances and the lack of control while entering the university’s campus, the team wanted to provide a 24/7 security system that surrounded the grounds with both audio broadcasting and video surveillance capabilities.

“Because we are an open campus, we have multiple entrances to the campus,” Petrossian said. “We really have no control of how and who enters the campus.”

In order to secure the perimeter of the campus, IVC installed emergency communication devices to assure that call stations were easily accessible to staff and students. The project’s primary goals were to tie in mass audio broadcasting solutions into their pre-existing network and to be readily accessible to the community. The decision team wanted an audio broadcasting arrangement that would integrate with their pre-existing Cisco Informacast system in order to provide a method of communication to staff and students by means of multiple mediums.

“In this day and age, you know that students are walking with their heads down, checking their emails or texts on their phones; a lot of times they don’t really pay attention,” Petrossian said. “If you notify students broadly by text or email it may not draw their attention because of everything else that draws their attention. The mass broadcasting on the loud speaker will get their attention.”

The IVC campus experimented in the past with emergency communications, by installing a single emergency tower in the center of the grounds. However, the unit lacked broadcasting capabilities and was never intended to integrate into the existing security system. The outdated tower was working as a separate entity on campus while also lacking the ability to provide coverage around the entire campus.

Irvine Valley College installed 11 widearea emergency broadcasting system towers with surveillance camera option, as well as an additional wall mount device. All of the emergency communications housings are equipped with VOIP-600 Series IP call stations, and integrated with mass broadcasting software throughout campus and its parking lots. The primary focus was student safety by being able to efficiently broadcast important messages and use each emergency tower as a wide-area broadcasting tool for that message. The WEBS tower provides the ability to notify the population in the case of an emergency situation through four concealed high-power speakers, providing 360° degree coverage.

These broadcasting towers use mass notification capabilities by broadcasting live or prerecorded messages in the event of an emergency to provide information and instruction to those nearby. The towers also offer local mustering capabilities to transmit a real-time message via individual tower to make on-site announcements. For example, an officer can announce directions to staff and students during a fire drill. Using the tower permits live broadcast status updates of a building’s safety and to notify when it is safe for re-entry.

During their search for an integrated security and emergency communications system, the IVC team found that many suppliers could not provide an answer to their safety concerns. One challenge included the ability to share power between an existing light pole and an emergency tower during daylight hours. Irvine Valley College wanted to supply emergency communication assistance to their campus-wide parking areas. By splitting a power source between tower and light pole, the installation of cable became a much simpler task. However, the light poles located within the parking lots do not receive constant power during daylight hours. The alternative power solution includes a battery charging power source using the pre-existing cabling and provided power from the local light structures. The emergency tower “Power Charging System” acquires its power needs through a direct connection to the light pole during night hours. The emergency towers then use the reserved battery charge from the previous night hours in order to function without direct power during the day.

Each Talkaphone product was chosen for its effortless integration, and its ease of maintenance and use. The WEBS-MT/R Emergency Towers stand predominantly throughout campus, easily accessible to anyone in the area. The towers house a VOIP-600E Emergency Call Station that contacts campus personnel at the press of a button for any emergency situation.

The call station surveillance is headquartered at the campus police department, supervised 24/7 by officers on duty. Each call station is activated at the press of a button, signaling the campus police department. The monitoring team can then communicate through the activated call station that has automatically pinpointed the location of the distress signal and can then provide prompt assistance to the user. The PTZ camera mounts to the attached camera arm to provide a visual for the monitoring team. This creates visibility of the area in order to more appropriately assess the situation.

Completing this project was simply the first phase for the Southern California institution’s security system. As a single branch of a multischool district, the Southern Orange County Community College District hopes to expand their integrated security system to the other sister campuses. They hope that by completing the first phase of providing a safer campus, it will encourage the other universities to participate in the creation of a connected security system and a safer campus.

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Security Today.

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