Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
September 14th, 2023
Author: Lizzi Goldmeier

Optimizing Security & Operations for Campus-Wide Events

Enabling Proactive Response on Campus

College campus security and operations teams face multiple concerns for large events, ranging from vehicle and pedestrian traffic to facility maintenance and, of course, public safety incidents such as accidents, altercations, and medical emergencies. When thousands of people converge on a college campus, whether for an athletic event, competition, conference, political demonstration, or graduation ceremony, the key to effective operations is situational awareness.

Improving Awareness with Existing Surveillance

Campus police can’t be everywhere at once to monitor areas – especially during large-scale events — so they rely on remote video surveillance to increase their situational awareness. However, in addition to being prone to human error, comprehensively and consistently monitoring multiple feeds is a challenge for security officers and a major drain on time and human resources. Fortunately, campuses can improve situational awareness by pairing existing surveillance networks with video analytics software. Powered by deep learning and artificial intelligence, video content analysis enables complex object identification, recognition, classification, and indexing activities to make video searchable, actionable, and quantifiable. Operators can search and filter footage to understand scenes and investigate incidents; trigger calls to action by proactively customizing rule-based alerts to increase situational awareness and accelerate responses; and, finally, visualize and track trends to drive intelligent decision making in the long term.

Discover 5 ways that campuses can use video analytics to optimize security and operations for campus-wide events:

1. Prevent Crowds and Traffic Jams

Large, dynamic events require security officers to be aware of potentially problematic situations so they can respond as soon as possible. A video analytics system can assist by triggering real-time alerts for behaviors such as crowding or traffic formations, both on and off the streets. For example, if the number of people in a particular area, such as outside an auditorium, exceeds a pre-determined expected threshold, the system could alert security to initiate immediate assessment and response. Or, if the number of vehicles in a parking lot or roadway exceeds a normal threshold, the system could alert security or operations teams so they could responsively deploy staff to address the problem. Furthermore, sometimes, traffic hotspots or long lines can also derogate the campus guest experience, and, by proactively detecting growing queues at ticket gates or food service counters, service staff can respond and preventatively alleviate discomfort and frustration.

2. Locate Missing Persons

In large crowds, individuals — especially children — may wander away from their parties. Using video analytics such as appearance similarity or facial matching, investigators can search for or be alerted to appearances of the missing person based on their facial features or clothing descriptions. By tracking their movements and identifying potential matches, security can more easily find missing persons and reunite them safely with their group. This function is not only useful for large campus events, but also for day-to-day security, when operators need to find missing students on campus and return them to safety.

3. Monitor Building Occupancy

Security and operations managers are obligated to ensure that building occupancy limits are not exceeded to ensure compliance with health, safety, and fire codes. Video content analysis allows operators to leverage surveillance infrastructure to quantify how many persons exited or entered a building, such as gymnasium, theater, or auditorium, and measure – at any moment – how many people are in a facility. Managers may also choose to receive real-time alerts when occupancy has exceeded the limits; however, by assessing long term occupancy trends, they can also identify times of a day, week, or year where excessive occupancy occurs and develop plans to prevent it proactively.

Occupancy alerting and trend data can also be key for smart maintenance of restroom areas. By identifying cleaning or maintenance trends based on data, staff can be deployed to clean or check facilities based on actual usage of an area, rather than on a routine time schedule.

4. Leverage data for future event planning

Another benefit of video content analytics is that it aggregates and visualizes data into graphs, heatmaps, and histograms. When campus managers want to prepare for an upcoming event, they can analyze video data from previous events and generate reports to understand guest navigation patterns, vehicular traffic trends, and most common paths or visited spaces. This intelligence is critical for event planners to proactively prepare for expected traffic volumes with signage, parking, and staffing to ensure that future events are streamlined and safe for attendees.

5. Proactively Prepare for Emergency Response

Although the COVID 19 Pandemic is behind us, it impressed upon us the importance of instating infrastructure that can support proactive and reactive public health and safety compliance. As mentioned above, occupancy alerts offer management teams a real-time count of persons in a building or area, so organizations can comply with facility safety regulations. Additionally, video analytics can support intelligent, proactive workforce management for contingency planning and execution. When administration is developing emergency response strategies, they can leverage business intelligence data mined from video surveillance to determine occupancy and traffic patterns throughout a location to empower proactive awareness of hotspots. If the data reveals problematic hotspots during periods of normal activity, steps can be taken to eliminate the difficulty before a dangerous situation comes into play. Evaluation of traffic patterns can also reveal common pathways that will need additional support during an emergency situation.

Driving Decisions with Data

Large-scale campus events are less challenging and stressful when management teams have comprehensive data to guide their actions and decision-making. Situational awareness regarding foot and vehicle traffic, crowding, and building occupancy is a way to make service, maintenance, and operations staff more effective so that events are safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Video content analytics is a multi-faceted tool that not only helps management teams investigate and respond to various problems that typically occur during events, but also provides quantifiable data to drive positive guest experiences in the future.

To learn more about how you can proactively optimize safety and security on your campus, schedule a personalized demo with one of our BriefCam experts and start transforming video into impact.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2021, and has been refreshed and updated for accuracy.