Ask the Expert (Campus Safety)

How can we protect students and assets outdoors?

Many of the security tools used to protect campus buildings aren’t as effective outdoors. We must think differently about protecting a student walking across campus late at night or guarding assets at remote athletic fields.

Surveillance cameras are a good indoor/outdoor tool. They provide invaluable information for your security team. But when placed outdoors, they need housings to protect them from the elements. Think about using infrared cameras, which are especially good in lowlight areas. Pan-tilt-zoom megapixel cameras provide sharp images of wide areas. But be sure to place your cameras close enough to eliminate blind spots in the coverage. Studies have shown many criminals are deterred just knowing cameras are present. Post signs across campus letting people know they may be under surveillance at any time.

Emergency stations, embedded with video intercoms, immediately connect distressed users with campus security/police. These stations allow two-way conversations, while a camera provides first responders with more information to assess a situation. Bright blue lights make these stations easy to spot at night—even from a distance. They’re always on and, when calls arrive, officers immediately know the station’s location. You can integrate them with surveillance cameras to get a broader view of an area. Emergency stations are available in both tower and wall-mount versions, making them ideal along walking paths, outside dorms, or in parking lots/garages.

There are also lessons to be learned from CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design). Provide adequate lighting along pathways, in parking facilities, and surrounding building perimeters. Keep bushes and trees well-trimmed to deny criminals a hiding place.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management March 2018 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Bruce Czerwinski serves as U.S. general sales manager for Aiphone Corp. He is a 13-year veteran of the company, a manufacturer or security video intercoms. For more information, visit the website at

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