Redefining Campus Safety: How Colleges Can Finally Eliminate Blind Spots

The life of a college student is stressful enough with trying to keep up with their studies and navigate the social scene. They shouldn’t have to worry about their safety, but unfortunately, that’s a reality.

 

Crimes such as theft, drug dealing, and assault happen in the blind spots of campus, where security officers can’t always patrol, and video surveillance isn’t available. It impacts a student’s daily life, as they must consider where it’s safe to park their car or walk during evening hours.

 

“Prior to coming to visit campus, [parents] are doing homework. They’re reading security reports and asking us questions about campus safety,” Charles Leone, Temple University’s executive director of public safety, told Forbes.[i] “There are parents wanting to know what their children are doing, and how you are going to keep them safe at college.”

 

For the most part, colleges are taking crime seriously. Two-thirds of colleges have increased their public safety budgets over the past three years,[ii] and the number of full-time campus law enforcement officers grew by 16 percent between 2005 and 2012.[iii] But even with increased resources and personnel, gaps in security coverage remain.

 

Clery Act[iv] regulations require schools to report crime statistics, and U.S. News recently began including crime stats in its annual list of best colleges. So, people are well aware of the dangers campuses face.

 

Premeditated Crimes Can Be Deterred, Impulsive Crimes Caught

 

Some of the most common campus crimes are burglary, sexual assault, fondling, motor vehicle theft, drug violations, and alcohol-related crimes. Those incidents don’t always make headlines, but they impact the quality of life at a university.

 

When examining college crimes, there are primarily two types:

  • Premeditated: Crimes that are planned and carried out with a strategy, such as burglary, theft, and drug dealing
  • Impulsive: Spontaneous criminal acts, often influenced by alcohol intoxication, such as sexual assault, fondling, vandalism, and disorderly conduct

Of course, some crimes can fall into either category depending on the situation. While both types of crimes present challenges for security personnel, premeditated crimes are easier to prevent.

 

Burglaries account for 50 percent of all incidents on college campuses, and motor vehicle theft accounts for about 11 percent.[v] Sexual assault is a major concern, and according to a 2016 Justice Department study, 21 percent of women experience sexual assault in college,[vi] and many victims don’t report incidents.

 

Picture 1: Number of On-Campus Crimes Over the Years

 

Blind Spots are No Longer a Challenge with New Technology

 

Though security officers focus on safety within their respective campuses, perpetrators often enter university property from soft entry points on the perimeter of campus. These are called blind spots because they’re difficult to monitor, and unfortunately, they’re the breeding grounds for premeditated crime.

 

The problem is many campuses don’t have infrastructure on the perimeter areas of campus to set up video surveillance. The map below shows the regions on a campus that usually are not secured. The green areas indicate where there is typically surveillance coverage and the red areas indicate where there is typically not. Interestingly, the red areas are the very entry points culprits use to enter a monitored area, undetected.

 

Picture 2: Typical Surveillance Blind Spots on Campuses

Colleges can eliminate those traditional blind spots by investing in self-powered surveillance technology. With self-powered surveillance, colleges can deploy security in outdoor environments and monitor perpetrators in real-time as they enter the campus and react to any suspicious activity.

 

According to a campus safety survey,[vii] nine out of 10 campuses have some type of video surveillance and, within higher education, 82 percent plan on purchasing more security surveillance in the next three years. However, only 8 percent of higher education campuses say their surveillance coverage is excellent, and nearly 20 percent say it’s either below par or poor. Those with poor coverage often lack surveillance in blind spots.

 

Picture 3: Video Surveillance Survey Results

 

Removing Surveillance Barriers of Time and Budget

 

Blind spots have been difficult to cover for colleges because of the complexity and cost of setting up video surveillance in those areas of campus. It often requires colleges to invest in trenching and wiring that can be expensive, not to mention disrupt student life by turning portions of the campus into a construction site. Trenching also requires permits from the city or state, which can take several months to be approved.

 

With self-powered surveillance, colleges can deploy security surveillance wirelessly, which means no trenching and no blind spots.

 

Does technology eliminate all crime? Of course not. But when combined with security personnel and other safety procedures, it can create a safer environment. University officials have made tremendous progress with campus safety. In fact, campus crime rates are much lower than the national crime rate.[viii] Officials are always striving to improve the quality of life at their universities. Investing in the latest security technology can help them meet that goal.

 

V5 Systems helps colleges and universities cover blind spots on and around their campuses. It delivers an advanced, self-powered outdoor security solution to monitor and secure perimeter areas without being tied to existing infrastructure. The system uses an artificial intelligence-driven computer platform that collects, analyzes, and relays data for immediate alerts. The wireless device can be deployed and redeployed in less than 30 minutes.

 

Learn more about V5 Systems’ self-powered technology by requesting a 15-min demo here:

V5 Systems Security Overview

[i] Push for Campus Safety Means More Guns, Officers, Security Spending. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jillcastellano/2015/06/11/push-for-campus-saftey-means-more-guns-officers-security-spending/#27470a736733

[ii]National Campus Safety and Security Project. Campus Safety and Security Project Survey Results. http://www.nacubo.org/Documents/Initiatives/CSSPSurveyResults.pdf

[iii] Campus Law Enforcement 2011-2012. U.S. Department of Justice.  https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cle1112.pdf.

[iv] Summary of the Jeanne Clery Act. https://clerycenter.org/policy-resources/the-clery-act/

[v] National Center for Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=804

[vi] Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gov/ovw/protecting-students-sexual-assault

[vii] 2016 Campus Safety Video Surveillance Survey. Campus Security Magazine. http://www.campussafetymagazine.com/university/study_shows_more_than_9_in_10_campuses_have_security_cameras/

[viii] College Campus Violence. University of Virginia Curry School of Education.  http://curry.virginia.edu/research/projects/violence-in-schools/college-campus-violence

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