Published in: Security Management, July 2017
The University of the Sciences is a private university located in Philadelphia with over 2,200 students, many of whom live on campus. The University of the Sciences recently went through a dramatic overhaul of their security, response and notification system. At the core of this upgrade was Talkaphone's NFPA 72® - 2010, Chapter 24 (ECS) compliant WEBS Contact platform.
The safety and security of students, faculty, and guests are paramount for any educational institution. It is always a challenge to implement a system that can not only protect these individuals but also provide the means of responding to any situation. Finding a system that could easily tackle these issues as well as provide individual and mass notification response was key to the University of the Science’s Director of Security, Shawn Woods.
“We wanted to look at a system that was new, up to date, and added additional features that allowed for better two-way communication,” explained Shawn Woods. He added, “Talkaphone allowed us to address multiple issues in regards to our emergency notification and two-way communication. The addition of their WEBS (Wide-Area Emergency Broadcast System) Contact® platform allowed us to implement a mass notification system into our emergency process.”
The University of the Sciences recently went through a dramatic overhaul of their security, response and notification system. At the core of this upgrade was Talkaphone’s NFPA 72® - 2010, Chapter 24 (ECS) compliant WEBS Contact platform. The platform allows the University of Sciences to broadcast live and pre-recorded audio messages to any exterior and interior paging units and emergency phones strategically placed throughout the campus. At the same time, personal notifications via SMS, Email or RSS can be routed to the appropriate segments of the population.
In the planning phase of the WEBS Contact installation, we made a list of some of the most common situations in which you would need to broadcast a message. Even though some of our prerecorded messages are unlikely, we can rest easy knowing we have a prerecorded response to a majority of situations. The entire process was very simple for us and the learning curve was really small.
Director of Security
University of the Sciences
Talkaphone’s WEBS Contact platform offers a new way to combine independent notification mediums into a comprehensive crisis management solution. In addition to personal notifications and audio broadcast to paging units, WEBS Contact can be integrated with high power speaker arrays and third party paging systems. These combined features make the job of security personnel leaps and bounds easier during a crisis.
Shawn Woods explained why Talkaphone’s WEBS Contact was ideal for the University of the Sciences, “The University of the Sciences is located on the west side of Philadelphia and covers approximately five square blocks. The size of our campus makes mass notification difficult. We needed a way of contacting and providing instructions to all of our students and staff in case of an emergency. Talkaphone’s WEBS Contact platform allowed us to do just that and provide solutions to all of our problems at an affordable price. It allows us to select the location and means by which we contact our students and faculty.”
During an emergency, confusion and slow response time could be detrimental to an institution’s response plan. Being able to provide detailed instructions and information to a specific location or group at the push of a button can save security personnel valuable time during an emergency. Unlike other mass notification systems, Talkaphone’s WEBS Contact allows operators to segment a population of any size geographically and demographically, meeting NFPA 72 2010, Chapter 24 (ECS) requirements.
University of the Sciences new mass notification system allows security personnel to create location-specific pre-scripted emergency notification profiles. In the event of a localized emergency (e.g. a chemical spill), security personnel is able to execute a single notification profile created for this specific event in this specific location.
“We have about ten prerecorded messages ready to go in case of an emergency. Some of the messages are things like police activity, chemical spill, fire and active shooter," explained Shawn Woods. He then continued, “In the planning phase of the WEBS Contact installation we made a list of some of the most common situations in which you would need to broadcast a message. Even though some of our prerecorded messages are unlikely, we can rest easy knowing we have a prerecorded response to a majority of situations. The entire process was very simple for us and the learning curve was really small.”
WEBS Contact mass notification server resides on a dedicated server, which can be accessed by authorized personnel from any remote station on the network. Depending on a scenario and a specific location, a notification profile can then be executed to cover the appropriate segment with the right message. Authorized personnel can also broadcast unscripted messages to cover any situation at hand.
As part of the upgrade, the University of the Sciences has also deployed WEBS emergency towers. These highly visible emergency communications towers feature an all-LED blue light at the top and are capable of broadcasting audio messages at a peak 123dBA at one meter. The sound pressure level can be individually adjusted in each direction to accommodate installation in the vicinity of the residential area.
“I walk by these towers every morning to class and I am really glad they're here,” commented Diana Dao, a sophomore student at the University of the Sciences. “I know that if I need assistance, I always have one of these units nearby”.
The highly visible WEBS towers project safety on campus and are visible from virtually anywhere on campus. During the planning stages of this project, the University of the Sciences staff did a walk-through of the campus and identified all locations where emergency stations should be installed for best coverage.
The careful planning of the system layout has paid its dividends. “I know that one of my roommates used one of these towers to prevent a robbery not too long ago,” remembered Neena Jacob, a sophomore student at the University of the Sciences. She went on, “Now that everyone has cell phones, most will use them in case of an emergency. However, these towers definitely provide students with a safety blanket if they need help while on or around the campus. I definitely think these units are helpful in our parking lots and narrow streets.”
Another distinct feature of Talkaphone's WEBS towers is the local mastering capability. Security personnel can unlock an internal microphone and use it for live broadcast around a specific area.
“Our supervisors especially like the ability to use individual units in the system to broadcast localized messages over the unit’s loudspeaker,” explained Shawn Woods. The local mastering feature often comes handy for crowd control and unscripted emergency events, “For example, if we have an incident at one of our residence halls, one of our supervisors can use a specially designated key on a Talkaphone tower and broadcast instructions using an internal microphone in the unit. This is especially helpful for crowd control.”
Confidence is at an all-time high at the University of the Sciences that emergency communications and the mass notification system will operate reliably when they are most needed. Shawn Woods shared the optimistic outlook, ”These features are everything we could have imagined in a system. We are very pleased with Talkaphone and we plan to expand our current system in the near future”.
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excerpted from May 2001 issue of Access Control and Security Systems magazine, by Carol Carey
Preventing incidents aimed at tourists, such as those by purse-snatchers or pick-pockets, is a concern here. While there has not been a significant crime problem, we wanted our visitors to feel safe.
Published in: Security Magazine, March 2012 issue.
Integration of multifaceted security systems can be a serious challenge. Using cameras, call boxes, mass notification systems, and access control readers together is a difficult but increasingly common goal. Many products on the market provide partially integrated solutions, but with some limitations and added complexities.
Like many locations around the country, Parkland Hospital in Dallas wanted to find a solution that integrated well with existing security systems as well as future installations. Additionally, it wanted to find a system that could cover access control, mass notification and basic emergency communication.
Dan Birbeck, a lieutenant with the Dallas County Hospital District Police Department, is the liaison for the Parkland Hospital replacement team installing Parkland's new access gates, mass notification system, and security features. He was charged with finding the best integration option for Parkland.
"Parkland is adding a 2-million-square-foot hospital replacement," Birbeck said. "It is the largest hospital replacement in the country. Extensive research was done to find the best emergency communication solution for the replacement. We researched a lot of different companies to find the one that integrated best with all of our systems."
We've experienced a ton of improved efficiencies and response times due to the installation. Our customer service response has improved dramatically. They integrate with all of our other systems, and without them, it would be hard for us to manage what we do. It makes our job and having contact with the public that much easier.
Dallas County Hospital District Police Department
“Talkaphone covered all fronts and was the best fit for everything we offer. My department even received direct training from the company. We learned how to integrate all of the Talkaphone systems with the systems we already had. “
"I think that Talkaphone adds to the overall safety of the campus. We've experienced a ton of improved efficiencies and response times due to the installation. Our customer service response has improved dramatically. They integrate with all of our other systems, and without them, it would be hard for us to manage what we do. It makes our job and having contact with the public that much easier."
Parkland employs nearly 9,500 people in its nine community-oriented primary care clinics along with a multitude of school-based clinics and offsite business locations. Parkland's original facility is slightly more than 1 million square feet and is connected through its children's hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The connection to surrounding facilities required a tightly integrated security system covering the entire campus. The first piece of Parkland's safety and security puzzle was installing Talkaphone call boxes and emergency towers along with access control readers in various locations indoors and in parking lots, Birbeck said.
"We have several different locations where we utilize the access card readers," Birbeck said. "We have them in various parts of our hospital, parking structures and open lots. They allow us to control access to specific locations, as well as the flow of traffic in and out of our facilities."
To further improve the department's response time and security management. Birbeck wanted to integrate card readers with Talkaphone call boxes and security cameras.
"Our access card readers are integrated with the Talkaphone units and camera systems," Birbeck said. "Once the access card reader is activated, we verify the user's information on our camera system. If everything checks out, then the system, or our dispatch center, grant access to the individual. The units are additionally set up to provide a map for the dispatcher, indicating the location of the unit that's been activated."
Birbeck noted that nearly 10,000 people use the access control readers at Parkland every day.
"A few of our older parking garages didn't have the Talkaphones with the access card readers at the security gates," he said. "A lot of times, at those locations, we would experience a problem or holdup that created a car jam. Adding the phones with the card readers to those locations has allowed us to immediately identify if there is a problem at one of the gates. Before, when the Talkaphones were not installed, it would take us a while to provide assistance and get traffic moving again through the lots."
The next piece of Parkland's safety and security puzzle was integrating the tremendous number of Sky Point cameras with the rest of the hospital's security systems. Birbeck specifically wanted the Sky Point cameras to directly interact with the Talkaphone call boxes and emergency towers. He also wanted the cameras to provide a clear record of a situation before and after activation of a Talkaphone unit.
The integration of the Talkaphone towers with the camera and access card readers allows security to use all the systems together at once. For example, when a Talkaphone unit is activated, the Sky Point cameras lock onto the area where the call box is located. The same thing applies to the access card readers.
The units immediately connect to a 911 dispatcher who can see what is happening at the location through the view of the Sky Point cameras. The cameras give a clear record of what was happening before, during and after an activation.
The Sky Point cameras are located both separately from the call boxes and directly on top of the emergency towers. Talkaphone offers the WEBS Radius Towers that have an extension arm to mount the cameras. Parkland has implemented this option on several emergency towers around its campus. Not only do the cameras help out during emergencies, but their mere presence helps to deter crime. Birbeck said the addition of call boxes and towers greatly adds to the overall effect of crime prevention.
The last piece of Parkland's safety and security puzzle was integrating a mass notification solution to the rest of its security systems. Talkaphone's WEBS towers and WEBS Contact mass notification software gave Parkland "the tools to both manage and broadcast our messages," Birbeck said. "Talkaphone's WEBS Contact and WEBS towers allow us to broadcast prerecorded messages inside and outside our facilities. The software allows us to contact everyone at the same time or contact separate areas of the campus individually."
Many campuses around the country use their safety and security systems only occasionally each year. Parkland uses its system every hour of every day, and the majority of call box and emergency tower activations and usage comes directly from visitors. Birbeck has seen this firsthand.
"Our visitors and patients directly use the Talkaphones more than we do," he said. "We get calls for emergencies, parking issues, and information requests. They are frequently used to request medical assistance near our emergency room parking garages.
Visitors also use them to report suspicious activity, in which case we're able to dispatch officers out to the location. In the planning stages for the new additions to Parkland, the main question we would always here be, 'Will Parkland still have the blue light phones? They were pleased to hear that we were expanding the Talkaphones to our new facilities for their safety.”
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excerpted from June 2001 issue of Shopping Center World magazine. by Carol Badaracco Padgett
It may be a cliché, but we live in a dangerous world. Yet, thanks to advanced security products and services, the mall does not have to be a daunting environment. Today's shopping centers are often heavily equipped with the latest in digital audio and video surveillance, CCTV, trained security guards, lighting and other crime deterrents.