On a Smart Campus, Technology Becomes the Eyes and Ears of Safety

Picture this: it’s 5 a.m. and normally the average family would still be asleep, but this morning is different-- everyone is in the front yard watching the fire department extinguish a small blaze burning in the garage. It could have been worse, though. The blaze was easily contained and everyone was safe, thanks to an intelligent alarm system that woke the family and simultaneously notified emergency personnel.

While this example could have had devastating consequences, on a college or business campus where response and control is more complex, those consequences can be hugely magnified. Fortunately, advancements in technology have reduced incident response times in both home and large scale venues. Many of these advancements wouldn’t be realized, however, without advancements in IP-based communications and networking.

Technology and safety can go hand in hand, but the entire construct remains useless without the appropriate network supporting it. Improving public safety demands upgrading to a smart campus with an infrastructure that takes advantage of centralized data centers, fabric networks and smart switches.

Let’s look at an example of what can happen on a Smart Campus that has the appropriate network infrastructure: A fight breaks out in a classroom in the English building. The teacher in the room presses a button under his or her desk to alert campus security. A preconfigured workflow also alerts the vice principal in charge of discipline, who pulls up the video feed and is watching in real-time and recording as the students are separated. By the time the students are in the office, the vice principal may already have been able to pull their files because the students were recognized in the video feed. The feed is backed up at a data center for later reference, using the fiber network installed by the school district. Here, the network that acts as the Smart Campus backbone allows the decision makers at the school to take swift, decisive action. 

Even in a worst-case scenario situation, a smart campus is a much safer campus. If an unauthorized person enters the campus without the proper credentials or permission, it’s possible for authorized staff to initiate a lockdown from any Smart Device. The lockdown sequence notifies the appropriate personnel, based on the location of the emergency event, as well as designated first responders, providing each person involved not just a warning but time to establish a coordinated briefing session. This allows for collaboration, as well as creates a platform to collaborate on, using the smartphones that most campus personnel already have. Over the Top (OTT) Video-to-911 technology provides first responders with the on-site information needed to assess situations before the actual on-scene arrival of officials.

On a more positive note, Smart Campus communications can also facilitate proactive notifications to promote on-campus events such as concerts, graduation ceremonies, sport matches—activities that need to be planned around. Or, if classes in the English hall are moved to another building due to a water main break, a workflow can be triggered to notify students and faculty of the impromptu change.

Outside of schools, smart digital enterprises and smart organizations can help keep people safe and ensure first responders have the information they need to address the situation. From a fire breaking out in the office kitchen to an intruder in the data center after hours, technology not only alerts emergency personnel but also provides them with what they need before they even reach the scene. We have developed the technology, and it is now our responsibility to use it while educating the rest of the world on how it can be their eyes and ears in an emergency.

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