The University at Buffalo has recently undergone a series of security infrastructure upgrades on its north and south campuses. Their new security plan, drafted by an outside security consultant, aimed to implement a strategy of more emergency phones, security cameras, and better lighting in parking lots, along walkways, and at popular hangouts on campus.
The university’s desire to enhance its mass notification delivery systems and aging emergency phones greatly contributed to the overall assessment. With a student population of 28,000 and potential for further growth, it was paramount for the University at Buffalo to update the security infrastructure already in place.
The university police, facilities, and IT departments worked seamlessly together to install, maintain, and implement their new security plan. After careful deliberation, Talkaphone Co. was chosen to supply emergency phone towers and wall mounts for the project. This collaboration led to the installation of 19 units at various parking locations on the university’s south campus. Additionally, 63 units were installed in parking lots, structures, and open areas on the university’s north campus.
Each Talkaphone emergency phone integrates with the new security cameras and lighting. Every phone was supplied with upgraded blue LED lights, making them a formidable presence during the day and especially at night. Several of the emergency phone towers have mass notification capability and can broadcast a variety of prerecorded messages throughout the campus; an important function the university lacked prior to the upgrade. The university has installed each phone in viewable proximity to one another. This allows individuals to see and move to the closest phone without difficulty.
“The role of law enforcement, especially in university policing, has changed significantly in light of many major events that have occurred in our country…There is no doubt that University Police has an expanded role in protecting our students, faculty and staff, and visitors to our campuses,” said Gerald Schoenle, Chief of University Police. He added, “We think the emergency phones are valuable for both our department and students. They create a perception of safety as you walk through the campus.”
A highlight of the university’s new system is its capability to use phones, cameras, and blue lights as one unified tool. During an emergency phone activation the university dispatch center is immediately notified. The unit’s exact location is immediately known and cameras on and around the activated unit give officers a real-time view of the location. To deter further harm during a crime in progress, the blue LED lights on top of each unit continually flash until assistance arrives. This flawless integration has contributed to the arrests of several individuals via notification with an emergency phone and identification with security cameras.
Mass notification capability is a large part of the university’s new security plan. In the United States, a recent Clery Act amendment mandates educational institutions to implement a mass notification system. Chief Schoenle and other officials at the university agreed that an additional mass notification delivery system would be valuable. According to Chief Schoenle, the new Talkaphone towers provide broadcasting capability to send multiple prerecorded messages across the entirety of each campus.
The emergency phones have been active on the university’s south campus for three years while the units on the north campus have been active for nearly one. Officials at the University at Buffalo noted a decline in campus crime six months after the installation. Chief Schoenle added, “While crime has always been low on UB’s campuses, there has been a notable reduction in property crimes for the first six months of this year.”
Students, family, faculty, and especially staff have all had positive things to say about the new phones. Chief Schoenle elaborated, “We’re all really pleased with them. With the emergence of cell phones there’s been a question of importance of the blue light emergency phones. We think the emergency phones are still valuable and provide a feeling of safety on campus. It creates the perception of safety that is noticed by both the good guys and bad guys. The phones create a safer environment and they’re definitely the way to continue for campus safety.”
The university has received nothing but praise concerning the new security infrastructure in place. Chief Schoenle added, “We have heard positive feedback from students and family at orientation. They are very impressed.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of the Security magazine.