Why interoperability
is important for
campus security
and safety

Author: A.J. O'Connell

Campus security is a critical element of the college experience, and one at the top of the minds of students. More than four in five (82%) of students are worried about personal safety on campus, according to a survey conducted by Clery Center and ADT, and 75% keep their phones on them at all times in order to feel safe.

Among those officials charged with keeping students safe and secure it can be a challenge working across departments to communicate incidents and form response plans. Interoperability, or the ability for different agencies and organizations to communicate in a coordinated way, is key to safety on campus, responding to threats and helping victims of crime.

Who responds to crime on campus?

While this might seem like a simple question, the answer at times can be complicated. A variety of law enforcement agencies may intersect when it comes to jurisdiction on college campuses, and there is no one way to police a campus. Colleges may use a combination of sworn and unsworn officers—the difference is their ability to make arrests. Several kinds of agencies and organizations can respond to campus incidents, including campus law enforcement, local law enforcement and private security firms.

For those institutions with their own campus safety organizations, particularly those with no sworn officers, it's important to be able to work with local law enforcement when crimes are reported. Additionally, other on- and off-campus agencies may respond to emergencies, including EMTs, fire departments, campus medical and mental health professionals, residential life and other administrative offices.

Why interoperability is critical to campus security

When first responders are able to work together seamlessly, incident response is swift, organized and collaborative. However, there are some hurdles that can jeopardize smooth collaboration. For example, if law enforcement is using narrowband Land Mobile Radio (LMR) to communicate, those radios don't always work between different jurisdictions. These types of interoperability challenges can compromise and slow down the response to an incident as it quickly evolves. This could impact situational awareness for officers on the scene and impede their ability to quickly make decisions that improve safety on campus.

How to improve campus security and safety

There are several technologies that can help different agencies work together:

  • Intelligent video provides security personnel with the ability to pinpoint objects of interest with speed and precision, which can help to rapidly accelerate video investigations and optimize situational awareness while helping to reduce the time and resources needed to effectively transform video into actionable insights.
  • Priority network access: During an emergency, heavy network traffic can impede first responders' ability to communicate. Priority wireless communications and data services give key personnel higher priority when it comes to accessing the network.
  • Preemption: Dropped calls and the inability to connect can cause problems when public safety users are responding to an incident. Preemption reallocates network resources to public safety users, so they stay connected even if the network is congested.
  • Push to Talk: Verizon's Push to Talk solutions are designed to help safety personnel not only talk to one another quickly and share video streaming, data or messages—all just by pushing a button. Push to Talk and other solutions complement LMR networks while operating on Verizon's LTE network. They offer radio capabilities to those who aren't on the LMR network and give radio users access to the functions LMR doesn't provide, such as messaging, data and video streaming.

Bringing LMR and LTE together for campus security

There has long been an argument for improving interoperability among public safety agencies by combining LMR and LTE.

When Verizon surveyed first responders, they found that 72% of public safety workers were using smartphones every day on the job, beating out LMR (68%). As important as LMR is to public safety, first responders depend on the capabilities of mobile devices to do their job and keep the public safe.

Colleges can benefit from the combination of LTE and LMR as well. By combining these important communication technologies, campus security agencies can stay connected to their colleagues in other jurisdictions and respond quickly and effectively to incidents.

Learn more about how Verizon's interoperability solutions can improve safety on campus and beyond.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.