Securing Outdoor Campus Areas

Securing a campus’s outdoor areas often requires different solutions than those used to protect building interiors. Tools such as emergency stations, low-light cameras, and even landscaping become more important.


Parking lots and garages may be one of the most dangerous places on campus. The federal Bureau of Justice reports about 7% of the nation’s attacks against people, and more than 10% of property crimes, occur in a parking facility.


Although most campus staff and college students carry mobile phones, those devices may not work in subterranean or concrete structures or even outdoors during severe weather, or with hit or miss satellite signals. Ironically, during a robbery, a mobile phone is often a thief’s first target.


Emergency stations – either towers or wall-mounted boxes – are ideal for parking facility security. With their built-in video intercoms, the stations provide direct audio connection to first responders or security officers. Station cameras enable officials to assess a situation before ordering a response. And with their bright blue lights, emergency stations are easy to find at night.


The stations are often used around playgrounds, athletic fields, walking trails, dormitories, and many other locations. They’re also useful for broadcasting emergency messages or providing assistance for campus visitors.


Surveillance cameras can provide security officials with real-time views of any outdoor area – from a busy campus quad to a remote equipment facility. Low-light or infrared cameras provide nighttime video. Also, recorded images can help resolve assaults, thefts, accident reports, and other events after they’ve occurred.


The principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) provide cost-effective ways to improve security through landscape and hardscape design. Keep trees and bushes trimmed so they don’t block views of buildings or provide places for criminals to hide. Lighting is essential across a campus. Fences, gates, and bollards restrict or channel access into or away from buildings. Campus signage helps visitors locate their destinations. Lost or confused drivers or pedestrians become an easier target for criminals.


Also, keep in mind surrounding neighborhoods. They may impact campus security and should be included in an overall security strategy.


Protecting outdoor spaces can be every bit as complicated as indoor security. But with proper planning and the use of available security tools, administrators can keep outdoor areas safe.


For more information on campus security, check out Aiphone’s eBook; Best Practices for Keeping Students Safe: A Guide to Campus Security available to download.