Intelligent Communication on Campus

Understanding the need for robust, enhanced implementation of mitigation efforts

Schools are still grappling with the need to invest in technology and intelligent solutions that better provide a safe and healthy learning environment. Although many institutions now have greater insight from the operational knowledge gathered after one semester during the global pandemic, tailored solutions based on more highly-informed guidance have now come to market.

Newly devised health and safety teams are still evaluating the most practical and targeted long-term strategies and tools to mitigate health risks and the unpredictable fluctuations of an airborne virus. According to the CDC, the rapid increases in COVID-19 cases at universities “suggests the need for robust and enhanced implementation of mitigation efforts and the need for additional mitigation measures specific to this setting.”

Fortunately, even after taking the initial steps towards reopening, implementing a new approach that balances the continuity of activities on campus with the health and safety of everyone is made simple by leveraging intelligent platforms to improve monitoring and a campus-wide communications strategy.

Expand Control with a Platform-Based Approach

Challenges as institutions continue to deal with the consequences of the pandemic may evolve over time, but the key to continuity is grasping onto what is within control and utilizing a technology-centric, scalable approach to do so. A centralized platform that unifies disparate technologies and mobile applications allows institutions to quickly attain heightened situational awareness with critical information.

Administrators will be better positioned to make the right health and safety decisions by adopting platform-based intelligent technology. It becomes a complete solution, offering the ability to identify, evaluate, and respond to a vulnerability as well as share insights in realtime for an expanded understanding of one or multiple situations. What does this look like?  e deployment of a SaaS platform eliminates the need to invest in upgrades, creates options to change policies and assign functions rather easily, can typically be launched within days and provides simplicity for students, staffor other users who can easily download and access the interface.

Communication is Key: Deploying Intelligent Mobile Technology

Health requirements are changing on a regular basis, so adapting to meet them in addition to mitigating the risk of spreading a virus must be the highest priority. Evaluating and adopting new technologies that provide a wide-range of solutions is critical to ensuring a high level of safety and health — and in today’s world, technology plays a more vital role than ever. When establishing long-term incident management plans and tools to mitigate health risks, there are intelligent applications that can meet the demands at-scale on any campus.

In particular, mobile communications integrated with platform-based technology can become a pragmatic solution. Providing health and safety teams with lines of effective communication can allow for rapidly established procedures. Employed through smart devices and wireless networks over iOS and Android applications, real-time mobile technology gives an unlimited number of students, staff, departments and even visitors the ability to benefit from a reliable, farreaching connection.

Broadcasting a message when there’s a change is crucial, and with two-way communication via an advanced platform, users can share locations, photos, videos, and even talk instantaneously. School offcials will benefit from the ability to engage directly and consistently with specific users, select groups or an entire list of affliates when using a platform that securely aggregates all communications.

Streamlined Health Oversight

Campus security management is able to perform remote health checks to aid in prescreening issues before employees or visitors arrive with integrated mobile communication. Connected through a single platform, accumulating user-submitted information for wellness checks and symptom tracking turns into a streamlined process. What’s more, twoway communication enables intermittent check-ins using secure health status questionnaires that will not just identify irregularities and at-risk individuals, but also instill confi- dence throughout the community.

Moreover, harnessing mobile technology and the ability to utilize collected data can help administrations meet the requirements for social distancing, traffc flow and sanitizing procedures in addition to health screening processes and location tracking. Innovations in new health and safety platforms enable the advanced integration with leading video management systems and the connection to video assets to reach a higher level of situational awareness. This technology ensures all students, staff and visitors are properly monitored and opens up the scope for security management to identify, evaluate and track incidents or unsafe situations.

Unified Access Management

To ensure the safety of everyone on campus and the surrounding communities, distributing accurate access approvals is essential. Successful containment is contingent on taking control of who is permitted in predetermined areas. Via mobile notifications, certain platforms offer administrations the opportunity to switch over to a “code access only” model. Integrated access management has the power to unite QR coding access control and specialized third party systems. This will expedite check-in for hassle-free daily activities, and it also becomes a tool that will help security teams more safely and discreetly transfer at-risk individuals.

A Lifeline for Comprehensive Incident Response

Without a reliable and immediate connection between campus security teams and local emergency responders, including 911, an intelligent incident management system isn’t fully optimized. Protecting students, staff and visitors on a campus requires rapid and precise alerts to field responders. When an incident threatens the health and safety of anyone — whether it’s a small group or the entire community — an established line of communication with emergency responders, reinforced by situational awareness on an interactive platform, can be the differentiator in effective response management. If a field response is necessary, utilizing advanced capabilities via the platform such as live observations, automatic response protocols, location sharing using GIS maps and realtime mobile communication, as previously discussed, will transform engagement with dispatch and response teams and improve decision making.

Enhancing Communications for a Smooth Transition

Whether it’s difficulty in health monitoring, process interruption, snowballing miscommunications or a lack of incident response plans, overcoming the complex challenges due to the global pandemic begins by adopting a technology-centric health and safety approach that includes intelligent mobile applications. Advanced collaboration tools provide the direct channels to conduct preventative voice and video conversations, send urgent push-to-talk communications and share critical messages regarding access, policy updates or developments in ongoing issues.

Many solutions have been designed to address the varied complications that school officials are contending with, but they should never be worse than the problem. Deploying platform-based rapid communication technology can help schools develop a straightforward and pragmatic strategy to restore campus operations with confidence. Administrators can become more proactive with health planning, and enhancing safety turns into a streamlined process.

This article originally appeared in the January February 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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