By Mary Kate McGrath - February 1, 2021
The force multiplier effect, a strategy often implemented by the United States military, is a concept that proposes the capability that, when added to or and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and therefore the ability to have successful mission accomplishment. The military strategy may have applications for school safety on college or university campuses, allowing emergency managers to multiply effects of safety solutions and deriving more value from each individual tool.
In military science, a force multiplication or force multiplier is a factor (or several factors) that gives personnel or hardware the ability to accomplish greater feats than without it. The expected size increase required to have the same effectiveness without that factor is the multiplication factor.
Common examples of force multipliers include:
The factors can influence and overlap with each other - for example, if a force invests in new technology, it can boost team morale, or if there is more adequate training, recruitment for the force will be streamlined.
The U.S. military has been leveraging the logic of force multipliers to better implement resources and ensure the probability of successful outcomes, and the concept can be applied to safety management. This concept - which emphasizes synergy and interconnectivity - may prove especially effective on college campuses, allowing emergency managers to create an ecosystem of safety personnel and solutions that contribute to a safer campus.
For example, if a campus safety app allows students to report suspicious or concerning behavior to campus police, the information will boost situational awareness among first responders on campus. The tool has multiple additional advantages, such as increasing response time during an emergency or discouraging students from conducting destructive or dangerous behavior in the future.
One campus safety official, Chief Doug Roberts from Missouri University, recently discussed the use of force multiplier effect in transitioning into a higher education environment with Rave Mobile Safety. First, the Chief reinstated uniform requirements - both for himself, and other campus safety officers, upon joining the force. This way, students, faculty, and staff could easily identify public safety officers, and despite the team’s small size, the official uniform boosted their profile on campus.
The force multiplier effect is also working in this scenario, as the visible presence of safety officers also discourages crime, theft, or other issues on campus and boosts students' perception of security.
Chief Doug Roberts also focused on boosting team morale. He decided that, as the leader of the department, he would do any patrol, call-taking, or response the team was responsible for to show solidarity. Additionally, the campus police officers began responding to local emergencies, boosting their visibility in the community and proactively addressing safety issues before they reached campus.
The Chief realized that if the safety team managed problems outside of the perimeter, these issues were less likely to impact people on school grounds. Roberts noted that the change improved their reputation within other law enforcement agencies, boosting morale among the officers, while also improving the agencies reputation among campus.
Technology can play a key force multiplier for campus safety teams. The use of a mass notification system and campus safety app for higher education can help emergency managers better understand the safety challenges facing their institution, address emergency concerns more quickly, and improve team morale by empowering problem solving and successful response.
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These tools exemplify force multiplication, boosting both campus safety response morale, improving students' safety perceptions on campus, and allowing for faster, more effective response. Once campus safety officers see how the tools streamline and improve communication and response, they will likely feel bolstered in the success and be more likely to leverage the solutions in the future.
Chief Doug Roberts noted that Missouri University was able to get rid of an antiquated mass notification system and invest in a stronger, more capable mass communication solution, which also acted as a force multiplier.
The team further boosted the reach of the system by investing in Rave Guardian, which allowed students to access a safety guardian while traveling across campus, which proved more effective than the blue-light phones that existed on campus. The reach of these tools, which offers students, faculty, and staff access to a campus safety manager at any time, can create a stronger overall safety net on campus.
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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