What will strengthen campus security?

Access control, mass notification, surveillance listed by poll participants
By Elisabeth Wilkins, associate editor of Security Systems News - 06.2007

In the weeks following the Virginia Tech shooting, Security Systems News polled our readers about what might improve campus security going forward, and what hinders security, if any such obstacle exists, on U.S. campuses today. Of 114 respondents to our survey, 81 percent said universities were not currently taking full advantage of the high tech security offerings on the market.

Further, when asked to choose a security technology that would most benefit a campus environment, 32 percent said surveillance systems, while 29 percent chose "Other" and gave answers that ranged from "training and arming faculty" to "personal protection" to "mass notification systems." Of the remainder, 16 percent chose smart card-based access control, 15 percent said video analytics, five percent listed contraband detectors, and four percent said biometrics-based access control could be best utilized to strengthen campus security.

Mark Craft Blacksburg, Virginia Tech Class of '91 and vice president at Professional Technologies, had this to say: "More than any previous generation, this generation of college students has grown up under electronic surveillance with an unprecedented expectation of safety. We, their parents, have employed baby monitors, nanny cams, web cams and security systems for their protection since birth. School time brought CCTV surveillance, access cards, and cell phones. Less afraid of 'big brother' than previous generations, they are accustomed to being supervised with technology. The question is: How far must this society go in order to feel safe? What will this new generation demand in the name of safety? In hindsight, simple measures could have at least reduced casualties in Norris Hall on April 16. But had they been in place, they may have merely caused the shooter to alter his plan--perhaps finding an easier target. I don't believe he tried to enter any of our access controlled computer labs on the 3rd floor."

Roscoe Coffman, operations manager at Open Options, said that he felt people needed to be better informed. "Most college and university administrators are woefully uninformed about the capabilities of current systems. For example, most would be astounded at the fact that critical video call-up, access control lockdown and campus wide audio annunciation could be accomplished with a single mouse click."

Access control was a theme that resonated amongst our readers, as well. "Running sophisticated access control and security systems is a daunting task at best," said Gene Samburg, president and chief executive officer of Kastle Systems, in Arlington, Va. "Campus security directors have limited budgets and limited resources. Many have not taken full advantage of outsourcing the operation and management of their systems to experts who can better perform the ongoing system management at a significantly higher level at a lower cost than they can themselves."

"I have long advocated entry-based weapons screening as the main and best deterrent to lethal violence in high schools; and the principles can be extended to campuses without compromising academic freedom," said J C Guignard, MD, FErgS Principal Scientist, Guignard Biodynamics, in Metairie, La.

Mass notification was also mentioned frequently by respondents, and has been a much-discussed security topic since the shooting.

Bob Shanes at Talk-A-Phone in Chicago remarked, "We are hearing more and more from campus safety professionals seeking for a more effective and efficient manner of quickly relaying information to thousands of people on their facilities. There seems to be a general feeling that multiple methods of communication including text messaging, emailing, and wide area broadcast is critical."

"Today, in the age of the Internet and IP communications, it could have been to the advantage of the university to have a system that can show, in real time, actual images of the scene as well as broadcast audio," said Bethany Moir, Director of Marketing at Visual Defence Inc. "The campus security center could manage the situation and have a proper assessment of what is going on from live coverage within the class rooms. This could be done with an inexpensive network of IP cameras that have audio transmission abilities as well, all broadcasting to a central location. A sophisticated video and audio management tool could display the images, perform automatic actions and lead the security personal through a series of predefined actions to resolve the situation. The fact that the flow of information was based on the cellular network, which is a one-to-one connection, prevented the quick resolution of the incident."

The future of college recruiting most certainly includes security ratings, according to many of our readers. "I believe that 'safety certifications' will also play a very important role in college and university recruiting, just like other certifications that demonstrate quality and value," said Rick Shaw at Awareity.

"Obviously, security is part of the mix now," agreed Robert Dannenfelser of axonX. "Physical security is something that can be easily promoted to parents and students. Video-analytic powered security takes the human factor out of the surveillance equation, leaving the response to the situation the only variable."

And Dawn Icard of The Systems Depot said, "Whatever safety measures a university has in place, or is considering putting into place, would play a major role in my decision if I were considering which university to attend."

Are any campuses leveraging their security solutions adequately? "There are several colleges and universities that are using the current security technology on their campus along with a guard or police force, showing a proactive approach to protecting students, faculty and staff," said Jim Geyer, general manager of SST, Midwest Region.

As with most around the country, the tragedy affected our readers on a personal level, as well. "As the father of a college sophomore and a middle schooler, I do and will check the school safety records of their present and intended colleges," said Kenneth R. Wheeler, the director of Security Services, at North Mississippi Medical Center.

"Those schools or colleges with good to outstanding safety records should publicize their safety efforts."

Perhaps Bill Mooney Tri-Cities branch manager of Protex Central in Nebraska, summarized it best from both a parental and security point of view: "As a parent of a school age daughter, I believe that parents today should be looking for a secure place for their kids to be educated, not only in higher education, but K-12 as well. While it is true that we cannot protect them all of their lives, it seems only appropriate that we should do our best to see that they are as safe as possible for as long as possible."

Click here for the original article.

- The Hackett Security Team


Some Missouri Nursing Homes to Add Sprinklers :

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- The Missouri Legislature passed a mandate recently exempting small nursing homes in the state from having to install sprinkler systems. However, the bill calls for those facilities with more than 20 residents to install the fire safety improvements, according to a newspaper report.

The facilities have a grace period until Dec. 31, 2012, to comply with the mandate.

The sprinkler legislation was prompted after a fire killed 11 people in an Anderson, Mo., group home in November, according to the St. Joseph News-Press. In response to the facility not having a sprinkler system, state and health care officials sought a mandate that would require all residential care facilities, large or small, to have sprinklers.

According to Department of Health and Senior Services, about half of residential care facilities in the state are not equipped with sprinkler systems.


Hackett Security Is Proud To Partner with DynaQuip's WaterCop Product :

At Hackett Security, we are proud to mention that we have partnered up with DynaQuip to supply their amazing WaterCop product. Continued reading to find out more about this great product.

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Who Needs a WaterCop Anti-Flood System?

All homeowners can benefit from the protection and peace of mind that WaterCop systems provide.

Property damage caused by aging and faulty plumbing costs homeowners billions of dollars each year. Many valuables are difficult or impossible to replace, such as; artwork, antiques, computer data, photographs, and other heirlooms.

Water leakage and damage is the most common insurance claim. Every year nearly 2,000,000 homes experience severe damage due to common plumbing problems.

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WaterCop - How Does it Work?

The WaterCop System consists of two key parts:

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WaterCop - Where Do I Place Sensors?

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  • Washing Machines
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- The Hackett Security Team


A Metropolitan Approach to Identity Theft :

The Police Chief magazine has an excellent article on the challenges of policing identity theft in large metropolitan areas as well as providing solutions to these challenges. This articled is authored by Robert F. Berardi, sergeant, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department of Whittier California.

Identity crime is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the 21st century, requiring the creation of laws to protect citizens from acts of fraudulence. Identity crime is defined as “the illegal use of another’s personal information, such as credit card numbers, social security number, or driver’s license number, to commit fraud or other crimes.” This article outlines the response to the growing problem of identity crime in Los Angeles County, California.

California passed its original identity theft law in 1998, but it quickly became apparent that law enforcement agencies were not prepared for what they faced: the state legislature has since amended, modified, and strengthened the identity theft statute several times. Even today, many law enforcement practices that predated the law remain unchanged, practices that cannot meet the needs of the state’s identify theft law. One of the most common difficulties facing local law enforcement agencies is the jurisdiction of the case. Often, police departments refer cases to other agencies for investigation because the suspect or the victim does not live in their jurisdiction or it appears that the fraudulent transaction occurred in a distant location.

Resources for Enforcement

Attempting to address the problem of identity crime requires an effective enforcement arm in addition to legislation. To adequately address the increasing number of identity crimes, an agency must be in a position to commit sufficient resources. For many agencies, additional resources for enforcing such emerging crime issues have not been forthcoming. They find it much easier to refer the victim to larger metropolitan agencies, especially when it would cross several jurisdiction lines and would strain the daily operation of smaller agencies to appropriately investigate the case.

Although a larger metropolitan law enforcement agency may serve as a resource for other departments in handling cases crossing jurisdiction lines, the metropolitan department also has daily duties and faces its own challenges in maintaining a constant level of effective service. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) has felt this conflict since its formation in 1850 and has benefited and learned from each incident.

The most important lesson learned is that statistical information must be developed to identify the level of need: what is the extent of the identity theft problem, and how does this problem (along with the newly passed legislation) affect our constituents and the department’s current and future operation?

Based on available data, reported identity theft incidents in Los Angeles County skyrocketed from 645 incidents in 1999 to 2,119 incidents in 2000 (fig. 1). Over the course of one year, identity theft had become a measurable, significant problem. The LASD formed a pilot program called the Identity Theft Task Force to provide a coordinated and localized effort to handle these investigations. The pilot program was closely monitored to determine if the investment would be worth the effort.

To read this whole article, click here

- The Hackett Security Team


Report: Retail industry continues to battle ORC :

WASHINGTON--Although increased media attention and legislative action has been directed at organized retail crime, new research shows additional action is needed to reduce the dollar amounts retailers lose to ORC gangs -- an amount the FBI estimates at $30 billion per year.

According to the third annual Organized Retail Crime survey, which the National Retail Federation released last week, 79 percent of retailers said their company has been a victim of organized retail crime during the past 12 months. In addition, 71 percent reported a noticeable increase in ORC activity during the same time period -- a startling increase from 48 percent in 2006.

But Joseph LaRocca, vice president of loss prevention for NRF and a former LP executive at The Disney Store, said the increase isn't that much of a surprise considering the exposure ORC has recently experienced due to multiple initiatives.

Early last year, President Bush signed legislation that established an FBI Organized Retail Theft Task Force and allocated $5 million per year to fund law enforcement training to combat the issue. Also, multiple states such as Nevada, Texas, New Jersey and Florida have passed statewide laws because retailers are not the only ones that lose money -- states lose tax dollars on stolen merchandise as well.

"We are more aware of ORC activity today," he said. 'The big surprise, in a good way, is that top executives are more aware of the issue today then they have been in the past. Having them understand what the issues are will help in a whole host of areas."

The C-suite awareness will help fund projects directed towards mitigating ORC, such as employee training and installing technology of intelligent video systems and GPS tracking devices.

Large chain stores are also ramping up the development of internal loss prevention teams that focus specifically on ORC -- companies such as Safeway, Wal-Mart and The Limited Brands are examples. But LaRocca noted that this is "still in its infancy."

Retailers have also joined forces with the FBI and local law enforcement by developing a nationwide database that can hold information regarding incidents of theft and fraud, which can assist officials in determining a pattern of an ORC gang. (Search "LERPnet" at www.securitydirectornews.com)

LaRocca said this mix of federal and local government initiatives coupled with a strong industry focus is an ideal way to combat the issue.

"State and local law enforcement groups really become the rubber on the road," he said. "Most cases are going to start locally and develop into federal cases."

For more on this story, see the July issue of Security Director News or click here to go to their website.

- The Hackett Security Team