How IP Security Cameras Are Improving Higher Ed

Picture of Mary Kate McGrath By Mary Kate McGrath

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IP Security Camera in parking lotIn November of 2019, one university surveyed students to determine if the community felt safe on campus. Many on-campus students reported feeling quite safe, especially in residence halls and the campus center, which require multiple ID badge taps to gain entry. Yet, commuter students reported a different experience, stating that while classrooms and other campus facilities felt secure, parking lots felt unsafe. For any administrator looking to determine the best resource to invest in, a versatile tool which can provide value to under-watched areas on any college or university campus, such as abandoned parking lots, is an IP security camera system. 

Safety experts recommend a comprehensive safety plan for college or university campuses, which includes physical safety measures. Basic physical security includes ID-badge entry systems, doors with locks on the inside, or security guards and a regular campus patrol detail. One of the most common tools utilized across campuses is a security camera, and this technology has advanced significantly in recent years. New tools allow campus police to hear audio, receive clear video footage, and access video data from multiple locations. 

The purpose of a security camera system is to help a college or university campuses prevent active assailants from getting on campus, protect students from threats or harassment, and prevent significant property damage or theft on school property. The presence of a security camera can deter theft or vandalism on campus, especially for areas that are unable to be monitored, such as the back entrance of a school or other hidden spots. IP Security Cameras may also be among the most unobtrusive measures. Physical security tools often risk making students, faculty, or staff feel increased anxiety, camera monitoring, can improve the sense of safety overall. 

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In January, a study conducted at the University of Virginia found security cameras and at entrances, exits, and parking lots do improve students’ sense of security. Yet, in an age where schools implement visible security measures at higher rates , student health experts and architects reccomend schools refrain from creating “fortress-like” campuses, according to the Washington Post. Any tool which can boost security without having a negative impact on student, faculty, and staff perception of campus safety is a worthy investment. 

What Is An IP Security Camera? 

An Internet Protocol Camera, or IP Security Camera, is a digital video camera that transmits and receives data over a network or the internet. Differing from a standard webcam, an IP security camera is a standalone unit with its own IP address and requires only a network connection to transmit and receive image data. Much like a laptop, smartphone, or another digital device, the camera connects to available internet network. IP security cameras can be used with an ethernet cable connected to a broadband modem or router or to a wireless WiFi network with a router. 

Opting for IP security cameras over traditional CCTV can provide many functional benefits for security teams. For example, footage from an IP Security Cameras can be viewed from any laptop or mobile phone from any distance, and users will be able to both stream footage and audio, which is not the case for many traditional security camera systems. In addition, the fact that IP Security Cameras connect via an internet connection, the tool is able to be relocated and can serve as a temporary or permanent tool on a college or university campus. 

How to Evaluate an IP Security Camera 

Safety managers can ask a few key questions when evaluating an IP security camera system to ensure the tool is effective on campus. The placement of IP security cameras, for example, will play a major role in how the technology functions and impacts students. Cameras may have a specific design to operate indoors or outdoors, and administrators and security personnel should be on the same page about placement before investing in a system. EdTech Magazine offered several IP Security Camera placement tips, including: 

  • Put cameras in a conspicuous (high-visibility) place to deter misconduct or theft 
  • Choose egress or ingress locations at the entrance of the school to monitor visitors 
  • Install cameras in poorly-lit, or hidden locations to deter vandalism 

Make sure the tool is implemented in an area on campus where it can best serve the community. If students feel unsafe in dark or low-lit areas of the campus, IP security camera installation can boost security for these areas. By having a monitoring system with a visible presence in vulnerable areas on campus, safety managers can discourage theft or other crime.

Related Blog: Managing Security For Campuses In Metropolitan Areas

EdTech offered a few other key questions for campus safety managers looking to expand IP security camera use. The publication advised safety teams to determine who will have access to the IP video system and the data. Campus safety teams should also consider how much data storage is needed, where it will be stored, and for how long. If the college or university uses analog cameras already, the school can consider incorporating these into security protocol and should evaluate how these cameras can work together. 

One other major consideration campus safety managers should make is considering how the technology will be secured. Misconfigurations can occur on an IP security camera, causing poor performance and potential outages, especially since legacy networks, or old networks incompatible with TCP/IP protocol, are not designed for IP video. Administrators should utilize secured network settings for the second layer of security, and to prevent any loss of footage, as per EdTech. 

Technology’s Role In School Safety Protocol 

One benefit to an IP security camera system is its capability to reach areas of campus where there are fewer patrol officers, as these regions may make students feel unsafe, especially at night. In addition to a comprehensive security monitoring system, campus safety managers can further leverage technology to help students boost safety while traveling across campus. A campus safety app creates an extra layer of safety for students. The app user can set a guardian before leaving one location, and ensure this person is notified if they don’t arrive within the set time limit. For students concerned about being on areas of campus at off-hours or traveling between quiet regions of campus, the tool allows them to take safety and security into their own hands. 

A campus safety app also allows students to make immediate contact with first responders in case of an emergency. During an intruder situation on campus, for example, an administrator can use the tool to connect with 9-1-1 dispatcher, providing the team with information about the nature of an emergency and critical location data which would not be otherwise available. The tool can help campus safety teams and first responders respond quickly situations, as the student's location will be available to dispatch if the call is received through the app. 

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Mary Kate McGrath

Written by Mary Kate McGrath

Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.

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