Selectron, Vasona study campuses

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore.--Security systems integrator Selectron has teamed with mass notification software firm Vasona Technology to launch a Campus Public Safety Case Study Program, which will include free installations on select college campuses following a mid-July campus security seminar. Long an important vertical for the security industry, college campus security has come into the spotlight since the Virginia Tech shootings on the morning of April 16, and the mass-notification software that companies like Vasona make is increasingly of interest to campus security directors, who want to avoid the confusion that gripped the Virginia Tech campus.
Selectron spokesperson Rebekah Singh said the goal of the conference and case study is simply, "to evaluate what works best." She said campus security, including campuses of health-care facilities and large corporations, has been a leading vertical for Selectron for some time, "but I think it takes something like [the Virginia Tech tragedy] to bring a sense of urgency back to the front burner ... It makes people in the community talk to one another and streamline their procedures." She thinks "universities will now be evaluating new technologies and procedures. That is the essence of the conference."
Selectron systems engineer Gary Clark, who's been with the company 14 years, said technology advancement in recent years has greatly advanced the ability to move information around a campus. The move to a networked environment has allowed access control and video management manufacturers to increasingly integrate disparate systems, he said, and "these systems do a wonderful job of collecting alarm data and collecting video, but the question is, 'When it comes into the system, who sees it?' At this point, it's only the security manager or the guard on duty." Now, he said, with software like Vasona's, which is loaded directly onto the local network, "information can be transmitted to the people who need to know what's happening, but also to literally anybody in that facility, be they students, or workers, or engineers, whomever--every single laptop, every single pager, every single cell phone, in a matter of seconds.
"It was a logical extension of the technology," Clark said, "and I think it's one that's overdue for the industry."
The July seminar focused on such technology developments, along with other "soft" measures that campuses can take, such as psychological evaluations and profiling, to ensure safety.
The Oregon Attorney General, the chancellor of the Oregon University system and many other prominent educators and law-enforcement types attended the event.
Colleges may apply to join the case study program and if selected, have their campuses secured for free, in exchange for an agreement to participate in feedback sessions. Campuses will be evaluated for infrastructure and need, said Singh, with a strong IT network an important component of a selected school's infrastructure.