EDUCAUSE 2018: Creating the Safer Campus
U.S. Public Sector Area Vice President SLED East
Thought Leadership, Education, Public Sector, Security
One of my favorite parts of attending EDUCAUSE is the ability to connect with higher education institutions who are using technology to improve campus experiences. This year I’m especially excited to meet with a group of universities that are using Cisco solutions to create safer campuses for their students and faculty, both in the physical and digital worlds.
EDUCAUSE is the preeminent show in higher-education technology. To resonate with attendees, it’s important to have a story people can relate to, one that blends current technology trends with real-world campus challenges. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Ashland University and the Community College of Denver (CCD) will be onsite sharing how they have created safer campuses with Cisco technology.
For background, I helped launch the safer campus initiative for Cisco after seeing news stories and talking with educators and technology professionals and more about incidents where students and faculty were harmed on campus. Given Cisco’s beginnings as a company that was founded by two computer scientists at Stanford and our edtech expertise, I thought it was Cisco’s responsibility to make campuses safer.
After looking closely, we found most schools are creating a strategy to build a safer campus. Advanced technology, like artificial intelligence and machine learning are nice, but what’s important is a simplistic approach to security with proper cameras, cyber tools and wireless access for all to communicate, while ensuring all the different systems are connected and regularly updated. The biggest issues on campus may seem small, such as crossing the street, which is why is Cisco is making sure that our technology helps with the small and big issues, like cyberbullying.
Creating a holistic school safety system – from physical to digital – is key to a safer campus. VCU partnered with Cisco and SyCom to update its video surveillance solution with more than 1,000 cameras around campus. The solution gives the campus police department the ability to analyze footage from all cameras on one network.
“At VCU, we have seen great success since implementation,” said Alex Henson, chief information officer at VCU. “We’ve used it to solve crimes and quickly identify and apprehend suspects that we were unable to catch before across the 10 square miles and two urban campuses our university spans.”
Creating a system of cameras that work together is important to solve crimes and streamline emergency response across campuses of all sizes.
For instance, Ashland University, a mid-sized school located in Ashland, Ohio with four satellite campuses, installed more than 100 Cisco Meraki MV security cameras, equipped with better video quality, easier search functionality and no on-premise storage. The university relies on indoor and outdoor footage to monitor all aspects of the campus, using time or motion search capabilities to locate specific footage when needed. In fact, Ashland students reported "feeling safe and secure" on campus more this year than any year prior, which is what this whole initiative is about.
But a safer campus is not just physical security, digital is important element too. Cisco is working to update the infrastructure of universities to fight cyber phishing attacks and online personal identity threats. At CCD, 8,000 students and 1,200 faculty members span across three campuses and rely on a Cisco Meraki network to stay connected. CCD’s director of IT improved cyber security with Cisco Meraki MX, Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), and Cisco Umbrella to deliver greater awareness, insight and control over the students, staff and guests accessing the network. The campus is now equipped with increased network visibility and decreased access to harmful websites to keep students – and their data – safe from security vulnerabilities.