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martes, 14 de septiembre de 2010

ASU updating campus security system

Matt Okarmus

Alabama State University currently is in the first phase of an overhaul to the campus surveillance system, upgrading from six cameras to 64, with the second phase com­ing in October.

Henry Davis, ASU's director of public safety, said the existing cameras were in­corporated with the new surveillance that consists of exterior and interior cameras, as well as 15 "code blue" stations that help stu­dents get in direct contact with campus po­lice.

"We wanted to create an environment that keeps students safe, but not infringe," Davis said.

Danielle Kennedy-Lamar, vice president of marketing and communications, said the new surveillance was part of ASU's "trans­formation" and has received positive re­views.

Alabama State University Director of Public Safety Henry C. Davis Jr., left, and dispatcher Pamela Provitt monitor classrooms and parking lots with ASU's new surveillance system

"Parents are overwhelmingly happy for their sons and daughters," Kennedy-Lamar said. "We worked diligently to provide a safe and secure environment."

She added that university leaders hope a situation doesn't arise where safety is threatened, but they feel prepared to handle one if it were to occur. The system is laid out in two phases, with the first costing $400,000 and the second, $365,000. Davis said the funds are coming from bond issues and are "not being strapped to students (tuition and fees)."

"The dollar amount does not outweigh safety," Davis said. "You can't put a price tag on a human life."

The first phase, consisting of the camera additions and the installation of the 15 code blue stations, is already in progress. The stations are poles with blue lights that stu­dents can access on campus that use a phone system to keep them in constant com­munication with the campus police while also making public safety officials aware of the location.

The second phase, set to begin in Octo- ber, will include the addition of 45 exterior and interior cameras and 15 to 20 code blue stations. Also included in phase two will be the implementation of an early warning system.

With this system, alerts will be sent out for campus emergen­cies, including weather and safety-related events. Students will be able to receive alerts through text, campus announce­ments and printouts from a card-swipe system they would use in the event of an emergen­cy.

"ASU is trying to step up and be ahead of the curve," Davis said. After months of delibera­tion, ASU decided to go with In­novative Office Networking (ION) of Alabama in Birming­ham. Current public safety em­ployees man the control room, two people at a time for three shifts over a 24-hour period. Da­vis said they will begin hiring new employees in October in or­der to accommodate requests for time-off and holidays.

Davis said students were in­formed of the upgrade in their orientation package and the cameras, for the most part, are not noticeable. This was done to keep potential threats to the cameras a minimum and to keep the look and feel of the campus intact.

Micheal Williams, 23, is an ASU student and feels the new equipment is a "good advan­tage" that helps make the cam­pus "safe and sound."

"As a student, I definitely feel safer," Williams said.

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