I had the pleasure of attending the 8th Annual Summit on Emergency & Disaster Planning for Colleges, Universities, and K-12 Schools at the Holiday Inn Yorkdale in Toronto. This two day conference was an excellent opportunity to listen, learn, and mingle with Authorities, Professionals, and Technical Partners whose focus is to keep your campuses safe and secure across North America.
Don’t be negligent.
Update your emergency communication infrastructure.
While the focus is security, the summit covers a breadth of topics from how privacy can coexist with security, to real-world examples of lockdowns due to shooters on campus, to crime prevention through environmental design. Eric Roher, Partner at Borden Ladner Gervais, LLP touched on the recent amendments to Bill 168 in Ontario and the consequent obligations that school boards face today when implementing policies to deal with violence and harassment at school. Your new programs for dealing with violence and harassment in the workplace should:
a) include measures and procedures to control the risks identified in the assessment of your workplace as likely to expose a worker [student, faculty, or staff] to physical injury;
b) include measures and procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur;
c) include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace violence to the employer or supervisor;
d) set out how the employer will investigate and deal with incidents or complaints of workplace violence; and
e) include any prescribed elements.
Businesses are held more accountable than ever for keeping their premises safe for their occupants. As a socially responsible organization, you may want to go through points a)-e) above and consider whether you have the systems in place to quickly message out and receive messages in if an emergency were to take place on your campus.
Mass Notification System
One step in the right direction
Two gentlemen that touched on this topic were Medicine Hat College’s Rodger Sloan, Environmental Health and Safety Director and Siemens representative Dan Bilodeau. Dan oversees Business Development for Siemens Emergency Communication Systems and Mass Notification Systems (MNSs) in their Technologies Division and together with Rodger discussed the recent implementation of Sygnal, Siemen’s Mass Communication System at Medicine Hat College. Siemens Sygnal Mass Notification System leverages Siemens appliances, software and industry partners to offer multiple layers to communicate to your campus community inside, outside, and by their side. The biggest takeaway from this presentation was the importance of having a centralized network-operating centre where information can be sent out and received. For example, fire experts now recommend campuses also include voice evacuation in their new fire alarm systems to provide mass notification capabilities. The reasons for including a voice component are fairly straightforward: it’s no longer appropriate for an alarm system to only set off strobes and sirens indicating people in a building should evacuate. Now, these systems must be able to direct building occupants on what to do and where to go during a multitude of potential emergencies. MNS’s link existing infrastructure, such as, voice systems, LED signage, and local area networks to help get a message out to the campus community during an emergency.
Broad emergency communication modalities are required to ensure that information is not siphoned off from its source, while an emergency is in progress. MNS’s can usually introduce the level of interoperability necessary to ensure a message gets out; however, the systems used today typically provide a one-to-many top down approach to sharing information (from campus security to students, faculty and staff). There is a failure to leverage the collective information of the campus community, especially while a threat is at large on campus. How can we preserve our connection and the flow of information with the campus community after a mass communication? What tools can encourage a proactive involvement of the collective community in resolving the emergency?
Leveraging new technology to improve emergency communications.
Guardly believes that there is value in using smartphone technology to help keep the flow of information open while an emergency is taking place on campus. We believe the reason you’re code-blue emergency posts are underutilized are not due to a lack of criminal offences on campus (there were over 36,167 in 2009), but instead a lack of accessibility to campus security. In fact, there is wide debate in the community whether these posts remain on campus merely to provide security theatre. We’re not recommending that you replace your existing systems. Quite the opposite: in some cases layering in additional communication modalities can drastically increase the integrity of your existing campus safety model. Deploying multiple modes will help to ensure the strengths of one solution compensate for the weaknesses of others.
There is no “one size fits all” solution to campus safety as many students, faculty and staff have different habits and routines in how they use and interact on campus. Therefore, there is no easy way to predict in what way an individual on campus will access campus security. Flexibility must be a key ingredient in order for campus security to remain accessible. Having a mobile strategy incorporated into your safety model is a natural extension to consider. More than 70% of students currently use smartphones on campus. Smartphones have the ability to virtualize and mobilize the functionality of the code-blue emergency phone, while adding features of voice conferencing, text-based messaging (instant messaging), and real-time location tracking using built in GPS. Most importantly, providing this tool to the campus community allows the collective community to proactively provide feedback to the university when a campus is at risk. Harvesting first level information in real-time regarding a security threat is one of the most effective ways to quickly get from mass notification to resolution.
Safety on campus should be a cooperative effort of students, faculty, staff and visitors. All of us must assume responsibility for our own personal safety and contribute to the well being of the collective campus community. It was Mark Allen, National Trainer at Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, who posed the question early on in the event:
“Would your students be able to easily access campus security if a shooter came on your campus in the next 5 minutes?”
Most importantly, would your campus security be able to manage all the calls? At some point you’ll be tasked with figuring out these questions and when the time comes to make your 5- to 10-year plan we ask that you consider a mobile strategy as an additional component that can help keep your campus community safe.
Guardly is a platform for emergency communication that facilitates rapid social, mobile and location-aware responses to calls for assistance. Guardly’s mobile app for smartphones empowers its users by providing one-touch access to their safety network. Simply launching Guardly on a smartphone will instantly identify a user’s location and alert family, friends, campus security (at schools that have joined its Safe Campus Program) and 9-1-1 that they are having an emergency.
About the Guardly Safe Campus Program
Guardly’s Safe Campus program acts to virtualize students’ smartphones into mobile code-blue emergency phones, which are generally found around campus, and allows campus security teams to track the real-time location of callers and communicate by voice or text. Safe Campus also provides the ability to manage multiple calls for assistance at the same time. For more information on how to bring Guardly to your campus please visit our Guardly Safe Campus Program website.
 US Department of Education, 2009 Statistics
- Mothers stay connected to their university-bound teens
- Guardly Launches Free Mobile Emergency Phone Service to Students at 67 Universities and Colleges Across Canada
- App helps students stay safe on campus
- Public Safety & Security Updates for 2013-01-30
- Customer Study Finds Emergency Response Times Cut in Half When Using Guardly Safe Campus™ to Report and Manage Incidents at University
Guardly provides mobile safety solutions for reporting and managing enterprise and public safety emergencies.Our safety apps act as personal emergency phones that transmit real-time indoor/GPS location, and provides two-way communication with private security, 911 authorities and safety groups using our real-time platform for emergency incident monitoring, management, communication and response.
- Read our customer campus safety study showing how Guardly helped improve emergency response times by 44% at a school.
Curious? Ask for a 15-minute Demo!
- Daily Planet Future Tech features Guardly Indoor Positioning System
- Vendor System Integrations Accelerate in the Safety and Security Industry
- Guardly Integrates with PPM 2000 to Drive Incident Management Efficiencies
- Guardly Selects Seevid as Sales Partner to Expand Distribution in Western US
- Emergency Medical Response: Plans & Technology Save Lives
- Buzz & Press
- Campus Safety
- Community & Partners
- Conferences & Events
- Contests & Promotions
- Corporate Security
- Domestic Violence
- Guardly Features
- Home Safety
- Industry Trends
- Inside Guardly
- Press Releases
- Public Safety
- Public Safety & Security Updates
- Senior Safety
- Use Cases
- Workplace Safety