Some of the greatest challenges to campus security include the monitoring of multiple buildings and gathering areas, coupled with tracking the frequent comings and goings of students, staff and visitors through many open access points throughout the campus. When you add an active shooter incident into the mix, knowing exactly where the incident is happening in real time is critical, so first responders can rapidly mitigate the threat and building occupants can quickly get to safety.
Putting it into Practice
While this concept is well understood, putting it into practice is another story. If you are a member of campus police or a student on campus and you are in Building C and an active shooter starts firing in Building A, how do you know? When do you know? Who notifies 911 and how long does it take? How does that information get to you? Just as important, is it accurate?
In reaction to the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, where an active shooter managed to go undetected for two and a half hours after his first two shots were fired in a dormitory and later shot 47 people he locked inside an academic hall (Panel, 2007), colleges and universities began implementing more robust mass notification systems.
Emergency kiosks, panic buttons, and “blue light boxes” became more widely deployed. These types of systems have greatly improved emergency communications on campuses, however they still require some form of human element to set them off, such as a student who presses the panic button or a security dispatcher who must compose and send the mass notification message.
With these systems in place, where does this leave 911? One of the earliest and most comprehensive studies on active shooter incidents was a 2012 Naval postgraduate school study which found that relying on 911 notification is an inadequate strategy to reduce response time in an active shooting incident, and that instead, a “Victim Initiated Mitigation System” is the most effective means of reducing casualties
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