What Is Campus Perimeter Technology?

Picture of Mary Kate McGrath By Mary Kate McGrath

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what is perimeter technologyEvery year, campus safety managers reevaluate campus perimeter technology to keep their communities safe. These can range from personnel, such as security officers and campus police, to physical security tools, such as emergency blue light boxes or security cameras. One valuable practice when considering these tools may be to consider the campus perimeter, and how technology can help secure these boundaries.

In the last couple of years, several incidents have raised new concerns for college and university campuses. In May, an active assailant recently entered a classroom at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, killing two students and leaving four injured. The tragedy at UNC Charlotte and other the recent attacks on college and university campuses has renewed concerns about buildings and facility security. The increased number of active shooter incidents in classrooms, as well as other public or communal spaces, has raised new questions about campus security practices. These situations call for increased methods for locking down buildings and preventing dangerous individuals from entering campus.

To understand the best campus perimeter security practices, each safety team must define the boundaries of the campus. For a rural school, this perimeter may encompass everything from residence halls to sprawling agriculture facilities, while a metropolitan campus may be made up of a constellation of various buildings across the city. No matter what the location of the college or university, making sure that all facilities in the network of the school are included in a security plan will help to promote campus safety. 

The hardening of a campus perimeter will likely be made up largely of physical security methods, though it can also encompass security employees and other safety personnel as well. Physical security is one of the most essential parts of a campus security plan, and is defined as any measure designed to deny unauthorized access to facilities, equipment, or resources. These methods include everything from fencing to security cameras, and are among the most effective strategy for discouraging crime and preventing intruders. By deploying a comprehensive physical security strategy and well-trained safety officers, any higher education institution can ensure their perimeter is secure. 

Read More: What do 15 of the Top 20 Safest College Campuses Have in Common?

How Can Campus Perimeter Technology Improve Safety?

Before investing in campus perimeter technology, each school should consider their campus presents. Identifying locations within the campus perimeter which may be soft targets can be difficult, since every college and university is comprised of many facilities. Figuring out the farthest edge of the campus perimeter and building a security plan that encompasses the farthest points will help to better discern which areas need to be further secured, and then technology can be leveraged to do so. 

The aim of campus perimeter technology is to deter and delay an attack. In order to do so, school campuses can employ technology that both secures the physical space on campus, and also has the ability to connect individuals with campus safety or local law enforcement as fast as possible. By working in tandem, these two methods can ensure that unwelcome or dangerous individuals are not able to make it through the campus boundary.  

Fence systems are a popular tool when it comes to securing areas of campus with less visibility. New fencing systems inform campus police if there are attempts to climb or pull on the fence. Of course, access restriction goes beyond physical fences - securing areas so they are only available to students, faculty, staff, and approved visitors through ID access can go a long way to preventing intruders from entering. Restricting building access may prove especially critical on city campuses, where securing multiple buildings in busy neighborhoods may be necessary.

Security cameras will also likely play a major role in a campus perimeter plan, allowing safety personnel to have eyes on less visible areas of campus. The presence of visual security such as cameras can be a deterrent in itself. If an intruder knows that campus police or local law enforcement are able to survey an area, they are less likely to commit vandalism or property damage or to enter the campus via these routes. In addition to preventing theft or other crimes, cameras may also provide peace of minds for for students, who will know that less traveled areas of campus are still secure. 

The route traveled by campus bus shuttles may also define a campus perimeter. Students should understand  the types of transportation available when traveling across campus. Areas that have shuttle-service or other transport options will be easier to secure. If going off-campus, especially during weekends or social hours, best practices for safe travel should be utilized. For example, students taking advantage of ride-share technology should use best safety practices. A campus safety app can be a critical tool for bolstering security around the campus perimeter, as it allows students to have access to safety teams no matter where they are traveling on campus. 

Mass notification is also a powerful tool for securing your campus community. In the instance of an intruder on campus, a mass notification system ensures students, faculty, and staff across campus, even at the farthest points, are notified in a timely manner. The sooner that the community knows of the threat, the faster individual buildings. This system can act as an extra layer of security if physical security methods fail, and to keep students informed as campus safety responds to the incident in question. Security managers may think that securing a perimeter primarily about fencing or boundaries, but it actually can be most effectively managed through coordinated response. 

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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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