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Thought Leadership Series: Managing Safety & Security on University Campuses.

In light of recent protests and violence on South African University Campuses, having the best safety & security systems has become highly essential. Cecil Meyer the FS-Systems Projects Director who has experience in the education and campus security sector for over 15 years gives us some insight into how the safety and security sector has evolved over the years.


Q1: What are some of the biggest changes you have seen over the years as well as in light of recent campus security issues?

Over the past few years security systems have worked in individual silos: Access Control, CCTV Surveillance and even the IT space. Take the University of Cape Town for example; in the past we looked at access control, which was perceived primarily as a card reader with a card, where students and staff were required to tag themselves in order to access various parts of the campus.

In recent years there was a lot of development in the industry which led UCT to approach FS-Systems for an access control system upgrade. Together with their IT department we agreed upon integrating access control with other aspects of the campus environment for example: student housing, staff housing, SAPS and Accounting Systems. We also discussed linking and monitoring all other venues on campus. Access control became a central database that captured information such as residential & personal details and course codes which allowed them easy access into both residences and faculty buildings without any manual intervention.

CCTV has also evolved, so instead of having large volumes of security officers patrolling the campus; you can now use video analytics which gives early warning and an alarm report in case of an incident.

Q2: What role do mobile phones play in campus security?

In the past few weeks there has been an uproar surrounding the issue of the UCT serial rapist. Cellphones can now be used in such instances, in the form of an App that sends a panic signal with your exact GPS location to the security staff or even the police. Mobile phones will soon replace access cards and can already be used to open up doors as well as updating someone’s access rights. Cellphones can also be used to broadcast emergency warning messages in the case of dangerous situations like fires or even security breaches. The cellular network is definitely going to become more powerful in the security and media surveillance industry.

Q3: Have the recent protests and volatile environment impacted campus security? Recent stats show that millions of Rands have been spent replacing damaged property, in the past few weeks the UCT Vice-Chancellor’s office was actually petrol bombed. If the fire detection system was not installed properly that entire building could have been burnt down in just an hour. This emphasised the need to have efficient fire detection systems to avoid costly damage to buildings around campus. CCTV surveillance has also proved quite instrumental in crowd control during the recent strikes. Even after the strike had ended the CCTV surveillance footage helped to identify the instigators.

Q4: How does FS-Systems adapt and excel in this ever changing environment?

We only use state-of-the-art equipment and employ the best talent in the field who are always driven to find new and innovate ways to deliver first-class and highly tailored solutions for our various clients.


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