Page 154 - Security Today, July/August 2018
P. 154

Communication solutions on campuses can fix a variety of student issues, not just emergency incidents BEy Michael Zuidema
mergency communication solutions like blue light phone towers and call boxes have been commonly used tools at universities and colleges for decades. Their visibility, durability and reliability continue to give students, facul- ty, staff and visitors an easy way to request assistance for a
wide range of situations, whether it’s reporting a suspicious individual or simply seeking help for a malfunctioning parking gate.
One challenge these institutions face, however, is figuring out a way to encourage the use of these devices to extract the highest return on their investment while also providing safety and security to large cam- pus audiences. As a result, some locations may feel like blue light phones are underutilized or unnecessary, especially if students feel like they aren’t being encouraged to push the button and place a call. In these types of situations, the campus population can feel like these products need to be treated like fire alarms—only to be used in extreme circumstances.
That is a good way to ensure no one benefits from their presence.
While blue light phones obviously can be a powerful resource for emergency situations, more and more universities are taking advan- tage of their placement and versatility to provide additional functions to benefit the entire campus. Indiana State University, for example, encourages students to use Help Points to request late-night escorts on campus, while the University of Central Florida told its student news- paper that most of the calls it fields are related to automobile issues, like a driver forgetting where they parked or a dead car battery.
Additionally, the University of California, Berkeley, has created posters in the past that encouraged the use of blue light phones, while other schools are now retrofitting their units with additional security tools—like public address speakers, surveillance cameras and more— to further boost safety and security on campus.
Meanwhile, the University of British Columbia added some easy but unique customizations to its blue light phones to help communicate to students that it is all right to use them more frequently in a wide range of scenarios.
Located in Vancouver, the University of British Columbia is situated on the western tip of the Point Grey peninsula, with a magnificent 993- acre campus surrounded by forests on all sides before opening up to the Pacific Ocean. With more than 54,000 students and 14,000 faculty and staff, it is consistently ranked one of the top public universities in the world and has been home to eight Nobel Prize winners, 71 Rhoades Scholars and 65 Olympic medalists over the years.
According to its website, UBC’s mission is to “create an exceptional learning environment that fosters global citizenship, advances a civil and sustainable society and supports outstanding research to serve the people of British Columbia, Canada and the world.” In order to help
maintain that prestigious reputation, UBC places an emphasis on fos- tering a secure campus environment that is based on respect and civil- ity. That can be a unique challenge for leading university in a city with a population of more than 630,000 and more than 2.4 million people in the greater metro region.
Located in high traffic areas are Help Points, 9-foot tall pedestals topped with a powerful LED beacon/strobe light and known for their rugged durability and multifaceted features. They also include IP5000 VoIP speakerphones that give people the opportunity to request assis- tance in an easy and efficient manner.
A number of Help Points also are equipped with Overhead Camera Mounts that give UBC security personnel the ability to effectively monitor situations on campus. Managing the entire system is Code Blue’s ToolVox, a sophisticated systems management platform that provides an efficient means to test and program emergency units.
UBC officials worked to determine a way to encourage more people to take advantage of the blue light phones located throughout campus. Together with the manufacturer, they created customized recessed but- tons that the university feels will be better suited to its audience by being more tactile and visible.
“The change made it more accessible and sensitive for our campus,”

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