Today’s college students face many potential risks while on campus. These risks include everything from sexual harassment and assault to a natural disaster, a chemical spill and more. In time of serious issues, campus administration needs to be in direct communication with students to immediately notify them of a threat and keep them updated until the risk has passed.
Communication to and from students is critical in crises. Emergency systems using advanced technology are in place on most campuses today, but their functionality varies. Blue light phones are one of the most common safety features on campus that allow students to communicate out to officials for help, and you will find them placed in strategic locations across most campuses. There are also many other technological innovations and features that are beneficial in urgent situations.
Here are the five types of useful technologies currently in use:
1. Smart Surveillance Systems
Surveillance cameras have been in use on college campuses for decades, but modern systems use smart technology that is a big step up from outdated analog cameras. These are cameras that have incredible resolution. They have been used to find stolen cars within a day, aid in criminal investigations and more. Security staff are able to keep a close eye on everyone on campus through this type of surveillance system. Some campuses have taken security a step further by using a visitor check-in system to track the movement of visitors.
Smart Cards Instead of Keys
Keys were commonly used to grant teachers and students with access to specific areas on campus, but these are being replaced by smart cards. Smart cards are customized for each student and teacher based on their authority or access level in each building. This lets security personnel identify the location of students at all times while they are on campus. It also gives them the ability to immediately freeze accounts when necessary. These smart cards often double as ID cards, and debit cards for on-campus purchases.
3. Personal Safety Apps
Students can now take their personal safety into their own hands through advanced technology. In addition to the efforts that schools take to keep students safe, safety apps can be downloaded to students’ smartphones for additional security. Staying safe and healthy in college means letting others know about your location. For example, the Circle of 6 app lets you link to your friends’ phones before you head out. This app has a GPS function so that all friends can easily locate each other. It also has a one-touch emergency alert feature.
Some universities have customized apps for their students such as RIT and their TigerSafe, which you can use when you need an escort to your dorm late at night. Safety apps can be used to summon security officers to your location or to open a door if you get locked out. Callisto and Anonymus are both campus crime reporting apps. For example, if you see violent activities or suspicious people on campus, you can use these apps to report the issue in an anonymous way.
4. Notification Systems
Campus-wide alert features are now commonplace, and they have proven to be highly effective in many situations. When a crisis develops on campus or near, a mass text message can be sent to the smartphones of all students and staff who have opted in. SingleWire is a tool that takes text message alerts to a new level. This is a mass texting function that is integrated with 911 notifications.
Desktop alerts and digital maps directing students and staff to safe areas of campus are also in use. Many of these alert systems can also alert parents so that they are immediately aware of the situation. Some campuses are also using panic buttons. These may be placed in public areas around campus, or they may be worn as pendants.
5. Online Safety
Online threats can be just as serious as live threats on campus. Many students spend a considerable amount of time online today, and issues that range from hacking to cyberbullying impact college students regularly. To prevent yourself from falling victim to a hacking scheme, update your system regularly. In addition, use strong passwords that you change periodically. Updating your malware software regularly is also important. Some campus computers also use special monitoring software. For example, Social Net Watcher monitors social media accounts and online usage to identify potential threats and to inform school administrators about them.
A Final Word
While today’s college students face many risks and threats that students from yesterday did not face, technology has advanced to improve safety on campus. Students should understand the technology available and should take full advantage of it for maximum safety.