The responsibility of protecting students, faculty, staff and visitors of a college campus is an enormous undertaking
One person can't possibly do it all; it takes the coordinated efforts of many. It requires developing a team to share the workload, build support and locate funding. And it means establishing open communications with stakeholders and forging symbiotic relationships throughout your community. As the world's most experienced integrator of security systems and solutions, Tyco Integrated Security® can help you address your physical security needs. We've started by putting together this proactive guide that highlights the key components for developing and sustaining a campus safety and security plan
Better preparation can help lead to better prevention
While following these 10 steps won't guarantee that your college campus is incident free, applying the proactive thinking presented here to your school's safety and security plans can help you minimize your risks, prevent more incidents from happening in the first place, and be better prepared to handle events that do occur. Not only that, they can help you ensure that your stakeholders are engaged in your mission and all funding avenues are explored. All of which can help make your campus a safer place to be.
Establish a security task force
The first step toward successfully securing your campus is establishing a task force. This doesn't have to be a large group; it could be a small department or even an existing committee.
The key is making sure you're always operating from a position of knowledge, consent and support. Therefore, establishing cooperative and productive relationships with every group that has a stake in your institution is imperative. Students, parents, faculty and staff members should all be included, as well as facilities and operations management, your IT professionals, local and campus police, and businesses both on and off campus. Certainly it's important to get the endorsement of the chancellor, president, dean or governing body of the college. But don't stop there. Take every opportunity to speak to as many different organizations as you can. Because when it comes to campus safety, nobody likes surprises.
Prepare for an annual risk assessment
Preparation is critical — and the cornerstone of preparation is information. Gathering and organizing all your knowledge and data sets will put you in a position to make informed decisions.
Solicit input and listen to the recommendations of your task force and your administration. Review your legal, insurance, and building requirements and restrictions. Study the crime statistics in your greater community. (Tyco Integrated Security can help you obtain these.) This is a tremendous security tool that can help you understand what drives police response and priorities. Compare data to the standard annual frequency expectancy (SAFE), or use local or industry-based statistics (LAFE).
Two-way communication between your stakeholders is also key, as it will help you identify problem areas. Talk to the various departments on campus, as well as third-party tenants, like stores and banks, as often as possible. And talk face-to-face, not through e-mail. Walk the campus. Invest the time. And, above all, listen to what they have to say. Get your business cards out everywhere, so when anyone has something on their mind, they can get in touch with you. It's also important to go off-campus and meet with neighborhood groups. Find out what problems they're experiencing, and consider how those problems might affect your campus.
Another crucial part of the process is compliance with your university's policies and local laws. Take the time to validate procedures to see if they're still current. If they are not, perhaps it's time to make some changes.
There are a multitude of potential threats to the security of your institution, so it is important that you identify the risks particular to your campus. From break-ins, burglaries and vandalism, to rape, robbery and abductions, to campus activism and labor conflicts, collecting and prioritizing your potential threats is enormously important. If you omit even one risk, your statistical model may be affected, and your proposed solutions may lack integrity.
Probably the most important thing you can do is to obtain the guidance of a qualified, experienced security solution provider. Take the time to find the best provider to meet your needs before starting any major projects. It's also prudent to make sure the company you select has financial stability and can meet your expectations, as well as your timeline.
Conduct a thorough risk assessment
A thorough risk assessment can be performed with the help of an experienced security solution provider — an objective outside specialist who can come in and give you a fresh perspective. Take the time to clearly identify the right security solution provider that can complement your existing capabilities.
First, discuss areas for evaluation and perform a complete walk-through of all areas of your campus with your security solution provider. Consider the differences between your daytime and nighttime environments, as well as the change in foliage and other seasonal variances.
In addition to residence halls, libraries, academic buildings, student unions, walkways, hospitals, sports areas and parking facilities, pay attention to restaurants, banks, daycare centers, apartments, medical offices and other businesses that support your campus. Pay particular attention to your institution's infrastructure. A power plant can be a single point of failure that could affect the entire campus. There may be many disconnected, disparate risk models on your campus, all of which warrant your consideration.
Together with your security solution provider, review your current security policies and procedures, evaluate your emergency preparedness plans, and assess all of your security equipment and IT systems. If the IT system has a history of collapsing, you might want to consider having an off-line parallel system as a backup. Also evaluate the effectiveness of any recent changes that have been made to physical and social systems, policies and prevention programs. While many of these things may be out of your control, they can greatly impact the design and performance of your security program and the allocation of your resources.
Conducting a complete and objective risk assessment with the help of your security solution provider not only helps you develop an objective review of all your systems and technologies, it can also help identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses, debunk myths, set priorities, and identify areas where you can reduce risks and liabilities. In addition, a comprehensive risk analysis can help you obtain any required approvals and funding to implement your security program.
Conducting a thorough risk assessment can help you prevent incidents from ever happening, as well as better prepare you for the ones that do.
A thorough risk assessment will give you a better view of your campus
1 Sports Arena
4 Academic Building/Library
2 Campus Walkways/Parking Lots
5 Research Facility
3 Residence Hall/Student Dining Facility
6 Physical Plant
Prioritize short- and long-term goals
Once you have completed your risk assessment, review the findings with your security solution provider. It's important to assign an impact score to each recommendation in order to set priorities. In doing so, evaluate the likelihood that a particular incident may occur, and consider the potential impact of the loss. Then evaluate the impact on the entire campus.
Look for a return on your investment. Even though security solutions do not typically drive revenue, you may realize an ROI. For example, if you have an ongoing problem with false alarms, putting a solution in place that can help reduce the number of false alarms could quickly pay for itself in terms of lost productivity, reduction in fines and easing the burden on first response resources.
Don't forget about the cost of doing nothing. Always consider the liability associated with a failure to identify and address areas of vulnerability within your campus, and take the time to factor in any public relations and marketing implications.
Discuss strategies, technologies and services with your security solution provider that could be used to help reduce risks. Some of the available options to consider are: Video Surveillance, Monitoring, Access Control, Intrusion Detection, Mass Notification, IT Integration, Lighting, Fire & Life Safety and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
Determine budget requirements
Major physical changes typically must be made using internal or external resources. If the work is outsourced, you may be required to solicit bids through a formal bid process.
More and more colleges and universities are outsourcing due to resource constraints. Whichever route you choose, make sure you involve your school's stakeholders, since their commitment can boost support and help speed the process. And when you're putting together your presentation to stakeholders, include the hidden costs of doing nothing — since they can easily outweigh your budget challenges.
Keep in mind that when it comes to implementing procedural changes the costs can be minimal. For instance, strategies that involve teaching awareness and instructing faculty and staff to lock up areas where valuable information and/or sensitive materials are stored can help prevent vandalism, industrial espionage and theft, and can be implemented at little to no cost.
It's also a good idea to get in the habit of publicizing and celebrating changes that have been successfully implemented, even if they're small. This can go a long way toward reinforcing your program's impact and effectiveness.
Investigate funding resources
Once you've determined your security needs and budget requirements, you have to figure out how to pay for them. Getting money for security is no different than getting funding for a university research project — it often requires using bold, aggressive and unique approaches.
Make sure security is included in medical and other research grants, partnerships and contracts. And whenever funding comes into your university, see if you can have a portion earmarked for security.
Be creative. Some corporations and private entities are willing to donate funds in exchange for naming rights for academic halls, science and medical buildings, libraries, theaters, sports facilities, and even classrooms or conference rooms.
For new construction, make sure security is included in the baseline funding and that a security solution provider is consulted early in the design process. Security should be as elemental to each new building as the cement, bricks and electricity, so be assertive about including security in the blueprints from the beginning. This way, if there's ever a budget override, security won't be on the cut list.
Investigate corporate, private and government funding resources. If you don't have a dedicated department or someone experienced in this area, make sure your security solution provider does.
Integrate resources into the planning processes
Sharing your security plan and related efforts with your stakeholders is essential. Get in front of all new students, parents, faculty and personnel. Let them know how the plan works.
How information is presented to them can be instrumental to the program's success. Explain why there's a camera here and an access control point there. Engage them in your plan. Communicate that the security is there to help protect the university and help keep them safe. Explain the convenience versus the security. And finally, solicit constructive feedback and ask for their support and advocacy.
Security solutions vary, and risks can change independently and randomly. So paying attention and knowing what's happening in the community is fundamental. Go to student, faculty and staff meetings and listen carefully to the issues at stake. There is no substitute for being proactive.
It is also necessary to make planning an ongoing process. By nature, security planning is cyclical, not linear. Therefore, you must constantly re-examine your plan from step one. It's also smart to set milestones and benchmarks so you can track your progress and be accountable to your stakeholders.
Since budgets are typically limited, never overlook the need for expense forecasting. At some point you may need to support your plan and demonstrate that there's no wastefulness or lavishness in your security plan. So do your homework and be prepared.
Implement strategies for response to identified needs
Develop clearly defined roles for campus and local safety personnel with regard to campus safety, security and operations.
Communicate how they are going to be held accountable and the extent of their responsibility and authority. Develop a process for tracking incidents and events, including software event logs, police and security response logs, and repair and service logs.
There are many ways where proactively tracking events can keep you ahead of potential risks. For instance, regularly talking to local police over the weekend to find out about weekend incidents can help you prepare your campus for the coming week.
Monitor the implementation and evaluate the effectiveness of the plan
As your security plan is being implemented, validate that the design and installation works.
Continually test, probe and monitor all the components of your security program. Hold mock security checks. And whenever real incidents occur, conduct regular debriefings and maintain written reports. Written records are absolutely necessary for maintaining the history of how problems are identified and solved on your campus.
It's also critical to build in metrics and evaluation strategies. Make sure your evaluations are always conducted in a timely, consistent and thorough manner. You might find it helpful to develop drills to increase overall understanding and compliance of your deployed systems. Likewise, assigning pass/fail scores to each security component can help you focus on reaching your goals and achieving your vision for a safer campus environment.
Schedule yearly evaluations to check progress and identify gaps in the plan
One of the most effective ways to help you evaluate your plan is by documenting anecdotal assessments of your security implementations. This allows you to go back and analyze events, such as a cluster of incidents in the same area. You can also use your CCTV clips for history and training.
Surveying and interviewing concerned parties is another valuable learning tool. Talk to building security officers to identify emerging problems. Talk to students to understand their fears and concerns. Between the influx of new students and the changes in faculty and administration that take place each semester, high turnover is to be expected. So ensure that campus security information is ongoing. Speaking for five minutes at new student orientations (and new employee orientations) can go a very long way.
Observing and documenting trends and environmental changes throughout the year are also highly recommended. How do things change when school isn't in session? Is your system consistently effective across all the varying weather conditions indigenous to your region? How do population and cultural shifts affect your campus? Your security solutions must be able to adapt to any situation.
And finally, one of the best ways to evaluate your progress as well as prepare for the future, is by staying in touch with colleagues and other professionals. Attend industry trade shows, conventions and training seminars. Read the industry's trade publications. Do everything you can to keep up to date, including scheduling a product and technology update from your security solution provider at least once a year
Tyco Integrated Security® is well-schooled in campus and university security
As the world's largest and most experienced security provider, Tyco Integrated Security protects over 15,000 schools nationwide. In fact, our comprehensive and holistic approach to safeguarding colleges and universities is unparalleled in the industry.
From video surveillance, monitoring, access control and intrusion detection, to mass notification, IT integration, lighting and fire & life safety, we can demonstrate how to turn products into customized solutions to meet the precise demands of your campus.
We're also extremely well-versed in identifying security funding for colleges of all sizes, both public and private, and can assist you in securing proper funding levels for your institution. Because in order to properly secure your campus in today's environment, you need new approaches, new innovations and New ThinkingTM.
Call to set up a free risk assessment of your campus at 1-877-258-6421