Discover simple tips and tricks to boost your college campus safety and security.
Personal safety is a big issue on many college campus sites these days. Some have, unfortunately, been the sites of some very serious crime which has been perpetrated by unauthorised people coming onto the campus in order to wreak havoc. In other situations, it has been members of the student body themselves who have has been responsible for criminality.
Of course, most college campus managers and vice chancellors will want to create a campus which is a nurturing place that is open. A seat of learning should be welcoming, after all. That said, those responsible for student and employee safety must always strike a balance between personal freedoms and the rights of individuals to remain as safe as possible when on campus. Nowadays, if you want to improve college campus safety you don’t always have to trade off personal freedom against augmented security. By using some of the most modern technologies and procedures, safety and freedom don’t need to compete with one another.
What steps can you take to improve college campus safety right now?
Use electronic communications
One of the best ways to start reducing the fear of crime on a campus is to communicate more effectively with the people who go there every day. Let’s say, for example, that you have a couple of reported incidents from students at a certain time of the day where they were victims of petty crime or when they simply reported that they felt uncomfortable. The best way to make sure that other students – and your teaching staff – become more vigilant as a result of such incidents is to inform them about them. Far from creating a climate of fear, most students will be pleased to know that situations are being monitored and dealt with. Indeed, many students will respond favourably and perhaps adjust their behaviour to avoid certain places at certain times of the day or ensuring they do so as part of a group rather than on their own.
These days, electronic communications are not just the cheapest way of relaying this sort of information to students but it is also the most effective. E-mails to the student body about what to watch out for are useful but also consider texting your students en masse, when needed, perhaps because of a major incident that is under investigation. You could even develop a campus app which gives all sorts of information about what is going on at your college on a given day including safety updates and advice on personal security.
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The role of ID badges
One of the best ways to improve college campus safety is to ensure that people feel that they can only get around the site if they have the right to be there. Given that so many campuses were designed to offer free and easy access in a semi-public realm design, this is not easy to achieve. Of course, it is likely that your teaching staff will already have been issued with some form of personal identification documentation so that they can prove who they are and that they are the correct person to be in contact with students. What about the students themselves?
Personal ID badges are now commonplace in industrial settings and business parks, so what about college campuses? Bear in mind that an ID badge is no longer seen by many as a restraint on personal freedoms and something that is used by authorities to monitor the movements of perfectly innocent people. Most younger people don’t think of them as an element of the ‘Big Brother’ state at all. Indeed, they are viewed as nothing more exceptional than a debit card, a coffee vendor’s loyalty scheme, or a pre-paid public transport ticket. With students carrying their campus ID on them, they will understandably feel safer that only authorised people are able to be on site legitimately. What’s more, anyone who might target your campus for crime without the appropriate ID may well think again as soon as he or she realises they may be challenged and need to prove that they have the right to be there.
Update lighting around the campus site
The link between good lighting and criminality has been studied for decades. According to a recent Police report, criminals don’t really weigh up good lighting when they are considering perpetrating a crime as a single factor – they tend to consider it as just one of many different elements. However, good lighting is well known to reduce the fear of crime that many people feel and upgrading the lighting around your campus can be one of the most effective ways of making people feel reassured.
Many college campuses have buildings with long corridors in them as a result of their old-fashioned architecture. Of course, there is little you can do about this but ensuring that they are lit well is something you can put right. This means not waiting for bulbs and strip lighting to fail but doing what most forward-thinking business facilities managers would do an opting for a planned maintenance regime. By changing the lamps in your light fittings every 18 months or so rather than waiting until they start to blink or go out entirely, you can actually save money because you stop having operatives work in a reactive manner. What’s more, you are not faced with the issue of potential dark patches where people are most fearful.
When it comes to the exterior lighting you have on campus, bear in mind that it is the uniformity of light which, psychologically speaking, people find most reassuring. That means a pair of lights at either end of a pathway is no good unless you provide lighting provision for the rest of the route. Low-level lighting which is energy efficient is all that is needed. LED fittings mounted in the ground or within bollards do an excellent job so you don’t need to think of expensive lighting columns when you are considering upgrading your lights around the campus.
Discover how to improve student satisfaction on campus in our blog post The Importance of Student Satisfaction in Higher Education
Introduce an electronic visitor management system
If you are serious about ways to improve college campus safety, then the best approach to take is to introduce a proper visitor management system. With an electronic registration procedure, anyone without a permanent right of access to your campus will need to sign in. Crucially, such systems can be automated, vastly reducing the amount of time reception staff have to spend dealing with administrative tasks.
Once a visitor has signed in electronically, they can then enter your buildings, perhaps to undertake some maintenance work or to operate as a guest lecturer. The big advantage here is that they will only be able to go to the places that are appropriate for their work without the ability to roam freely. Therefore, this approach augments your college campus safety standards at a stroke. Security personnel are able to monitor the movements of guests until they leave when they sign out. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that they can do so remotely without the need to be even on the same site as the visitor or visitors in question.
Please call us to discuss how a VisiPoint visitor management solution would make the ideal means of improving your campus’ security.