According to the Campus Safety and Security (CSS) data provided by the U.S. Department of Education, on average more than 3,500 robberies and 2,000 fire accidents occur each year on US college campuses.
Given the large number of crimes, accidents and security breaches on campuses, it is important to develop and implement effective measures that can prevent, deter, detect and respond to safety incidents.
As a result of a recent grant proposal collectively presented to the National Science Foundation, a strong partnership formed between the departments of Information Technology Services, Computer Science and Computer Engineering, Sociology, and Electrical Engineering on the University of Arkansas Fayetteville (UAF) campus.
If funded, the grant aims to provide a safer and more secure environment for the UAF campus by building an intelligent cyber-infrastructure (CI). The results can be applied to enhance campus safety and physical security, as well as improve the cybersecurity of the campus network.
Many colleges, including the University of Arkansas, have implemented various measures aimed at improving campus safety and security. Almost all universities have an emergency notification system in place so that emergency information can be distributed en masse to the entire campus community via text messages, phone calls, emails, alarms, sirens, etc. Monitoring devices and sensors such as surveillance cameras and smoke detectors are installed to detect crimes and accidents. Many of these systems are deployed in an isolated manner. In addition, they usually operate with conventional power sources.
In today’s climate, UAF prefers to exceed traditional campus expectations as it pertains to the safety and security of its campus. “The grant will allow us to deploy an outdoor Wi-Fi network infrastructure and a sound sensor network, both powered by solar panels to provide reliability in power-outage scenarios, which are currently unavailable on the U of A campus,” said Qinghua Li, a faculty member in Computer Science. “The sound sensor network will be used to detect gunshots and explosions, and we will research detection algorithms. All these will enhance campus safety and security.”
The sensor network can also detect a trace amount of chemical dispersion. “These will be placed around the Chemistry and Biochemistry buildings,” Devyn Moore, Network Enterprise Systems team lead, said. “They can detect chemical changes in the atmosphere for chemical leaks.”
The collaborators hope to improve overall responsiveness to the emergency management process in a measurable, meaningful way. “If the cyber system detects smoke, a gunshot or an explosion, UAPD will be automatically contacted and sent the location of the disturbance,” Moore added. “It eliminates the possibility of human error and quickens response time.”
(Next page: Implications for UAF as an RI institution)