Visible vs. invisible: GIS and IPS for campus security

Making decisions about whether everyone should know about geographic information systems and indoor positioning systems being used by safety officers
By: | Issue: April/May, 2019
April 12, 2019

Administrators must always maintain a balance between keeping the campus community informed of security matters and restraining from sharing too much information. While public safety agencies, local governments and campus agencies should be working together closely as a standard practice—and thus sharing information appropriately—there should be limits, explains Rich LeCates, director of product management, public safety analytics at Florida-based CentralSquare Technologies, a public-sector software provider.

GIS and structural information aren’t harmful, “but if they’re obtained by a person intending to cause harm as a result of malicious activity, the results could be considerable,” he says. “For instance, understanding pedestrian patterns might provide a would-be assailant an opportunity to identify areas where maximum harm and minimal resistance could be affected.”

At the same time, letting students, faculty and staff know that such systems are in place can be reassuring, says Don Sharp, CEO of Coolfire Solutions, a St. Louis-based software company. “In the best case, anyone on campus can appreciate security efforts as long as they are not intrusive or violate personal privacy.” Still, good operational security dictates that these systems should be compartmentalized so that users can focus on their particular responsibilities.
“Guards may understand how their patrol technology works,” Sharp says. “But they shouldn’t need to understand the inner workings of all the pieces of the security or tracking operation.”

Full story: Campus security: Helping the college community using GIS and IPS