In addition to adopting various types of security and life-safety technologies, campuses must put an equal amount of effort into developing a culture of safety and wellness.
By Robin Hattersley Gray · March 28, 2016
I’m a big fan of security technology. The advances in two-way radios communications, video surveillance, emergency notification, access control, records management and even fire alarm systems are remarkable compared to 10 or even five years ago. If you are a regular reader of CS, most likely you too are a bit of a techno-phile, and you’ll enjoy my article titled Weighing the Costs of Campus Crime and the Benefits of Security Technology, Part 1 and Part 2. In this year-long project, I’m trying to get my arms around the real costs and benefits of the various types of security and life-safety technologies on the market today.
While working on this project, it was tempting for me to let the left side of my brain — the side that loves numbers and certainty — take over. I even went so far as to cite research from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations in an attempt to estimate the financial impact of various types of crimes, including murder and rape. But then again, how can you put a dollar value on a life that’s been lost or a psyche that has been severely traumatized? You can’t. Yet, many of us who are responsible for balancing budgets, risk management and/or the deployment of technology on campus could fall into this type of trap.
If you are involved in school, university or hospital public safety, to excel at your job, both sides of your brain need to be actively engaged. That means having a healthy respect for not only the numbers and technology, which the left side of your brain wants, but also the emotions and intangible elements that are embraced by the right side of your brain.
In addition to adopting various types of technologies (along with the policies, procedures and training supporting them), campuses must put an equal amount of effort into developing a culture of safety and wellness. Campuses can develop just such a culture through support for mental health, bystander intervention, empathy training, hazing prevention, drug and alcohol counseling, and verbal de-escalation training, among many other programs.
I realize that “culture” and “wellness” may be terms that sound kind of “woo woo” to your left brain, but embracing these concepts will most certainly translate either directly or indirectly to cost savings and improved profitability/increased funding that your left brain will love.
Technology and cost analysis are important, no doubt, but they are only half of the equation. Balancing these tangible approaches with the intangible (or some would say “softer” approaches) will ensure your safety and security programs are as effective as possible.