Technology improves campus safety

by Anna Wieseman | Editor-In-Chief
Published: Last Updated on

Some of the most important tools the campus police department has is its security technology, according to Chief of Police and Director of Campus Security David Selby. This technology can fill in gaps in investigations and maintain a flow of communication during security incidents. The most recent addition to this technology at the University of Indianapolis is the card swipe system in the residence halls.

“Card access is a wonderful thing for a couple of reasons,” Selby said. “For one, we can keep these buildings locked. We know who is coming in and out of the building from a couple different ways. When you swipe that card, it [the information] is automatically recorded, and we know who is in that building.”

Buildings where the swipe system has been installed include five residence halls, Krannert Memorial Library and the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. Along with the swipe system, security cameras also have been installed in these buildings.

UIndy student uses his ID to get into Roberts Hall. The switch from keys to IDs is one of the changes in security.Photo by Anna Wieseman

UIndy student uses his ID to get into Roberts Hall. The switch from keys to IDs is one of the changes in security.Photo by Anna Wieseman

“There are cameras up so we have a video record of who is coming in and out of those buildings,” Selby said. “So it makes those buildings much more secure. And if something does happen, we have a pretty good place to start to try to figure out where to go with the investigation.”

According to Selby, one of his focuses is safety in the residence halls. He said the university looks to use the card swipe system for all buildings to heighten security.

“I’m a real big fan [of the new technology], and the best thing about this is that the buildings just become ‘boom’ that much more secure, because you don’t have keys floating around,” Selby said. “One of the things that keeps me awake at night is worrying about everybody being safe in those residence halls. If something happens there, it’s a killer for us.”

Junior exercise science major Michael Lea is a resident assistant in Roberts Hall and is excited about the swipe system and the cameras across campus.

“I think it’s definitely a good thing because coming from an RA, my job is really to help protect the student body and the residents,” he said. “I think it’s really good having the card swipe, especially in the case of an emergency. We can take a tally of who is here and who is not here, and that also prevents break-ins.”

Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Kory Vitangeli said the campus will start transitioning away from keys. For the last two weeks of the semester,  students will only use their cards to get into their residence halls.

“They’ll keep their keys, just in case there are any issues, but we want students to start transitioning,” Vitangeli said. “Then second semester if all works well during the pilot, we will collect keys in those five buildings so that people have to use the card swipes.”

Money for systems such as card swiping and cameras comes from a yearly amount allocated from the university’s budget, according to Vitangeli.

Selby has many projects in the works but knows he will have to be patient.

“It’s obviously something that is not going to happen overnight. We’ve got to start on it, and we’ve started on it, and we’ll keep building on it,” Selby said.

According to Vitangeli, the system adds a layer of convenience for everyone on campus. A lost key costs a student $50, and all locks have to be changed. If an ID card is lost, it can be taken out of the system when a new card is issued. The cost of a new ID card is currently $25 at the student business center, and the entire system does not need to be changed when a card is lost.

“Being able to track who’s going [in and out] and if we have a lost key, we don’t have to worry about the lost keys on the entrances,” Vitangeli said. “It’s difficult if somebody loses an outside door key to recore the entire building for that lost key.”

Selby said he is happy with the improvements that have come so far. As the initiative continues he will work toward putting in additional security cameras in parking lots. Other initiatives, as budget allows, may include moving to proximity cards. These cards do not require a person to swipe the card but merely hold it up to the reader.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen us jump light years in trying to move forward on things,”  Selby said. “But it’s like everything, you have to be methodical about it. . . . It’s not something you can do overnight because these types of things are expensive, and you want to make sure that you do it right from the get go, or you’re going to spend a lot more money trying to fix things.”

As the pilot programs begin in the coming weeks and next semester, Lea hopes students living in buildings with swipe systems will remain patient.

“I think right now my best piece of advice for the student body would be to be patient with the administration, residence life and the police staff while we are transferring over to this system,” Lea said. “Like all things, change is definitely good in that we just have to bear with the initial bugs and problems. It’s put into place for their benefit.

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