Release Date: September 28, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has upgraded security measures on its North Campus in Amherst, extending a strategy of more emergency phones, security cameras and better lighting that has been employed successfully at its South Campus in North Buffalo.
The emergency "blue light" phones have been integrated with the "UB Alert" text messaging and emailing system, which is now able to broadcast emergency voice messages to the phones on both campuses. Testing of the emergency "blue light" phone system was successful yesterday on the South Campus and will continue this week on the North Campus.
Sixty-three new emergency telephones and 77 cameras have been installed at the North Campus. The university also has upgraded outdoor lighting throughout the campus to make sure the cameras can function properly.
The security plan adopts recommendations already up and running at the South Campus that are designed to create a safer environment and incorporate technology that allows campus police to respond quicker to any problems, according to Gerald W. Schoenle Jr., chief of University Police.
At a time when protecting students, faculty and staff remains a top university priority, these new systems will help campus police in taking on that vital responsibility, Schoenle says.
"The role of law enforcement, especially in university policing, has changed significantly in light of many major events that have occurred in our country," says Schoenle.
"There is no doubt that University Police has an expanded role in protecting our students, faculty and staff, and visitors to our campuses."
The new and expanded technology and infrastructure on UB's North Campus follow the same recommendations of a security consultant hired by UB to do a risk-assessment of the university's South Campus, according to Michael Dupre, assistant vice president for university facilities. As a result of that assessment, UB added new and more powerful lighting, blue light emergency phones that connect to a police dispatcher and 76 security cameras throughout the South Campus.
Now the university has turned its attention to the North Campus.
The $2 million in security innovations and improvements to the university's North Campus include 20 new light poles, bases and lamps for areas requiring increased lighting levels. To assure proper functioning of security cameras, approximately 120 lamps and ballasts have been changed throughout the walkway areas.
The university installed 63 emergency telephones and 77 cameras, which will be interconnected through a network of underground conduit and wire.
Three servers were installed with a 30-day backup capability to properly monitor the camera system. The systems on both campuses will be integrated to work as one system.
"University Police dispatchers and supervisors can monitor the views taken by the new cameras; when a blue light phone is activated, the cameras zoom in on that area," says Schoenle. "In addition, University Police investigators use these cameras as a tool to investigate crime. In fact, University Police have made several arrests as a result of these new security cameras.
"Cameras can be actively monitored when a specific problem area comes to our attention; otherwise, they are passively monitored in our dispatch center."
UB officials have noticed a decline in campus crime, but say the reason why is open to discussion.
"While crime has always been low on UB's campuses, there has been a notable reduction in property crimes for the first 6 months of this year," Schoenle says. "University Police have embarked on several problem-solving initiatives, so it is not possible to say this reduction is just from the new infrastructure enhancements."
Nevertheless, the methods that seem to be working well on the South Campus and have been added to the North Campus soon will extend to the university's Downtown Campus, according to UB officials.
"University Police are in constant discussion with our partners at the downtown campus," Schoenle says. "We think the same changes and improvements that are working so well at Main Street and Amherst will also prove effective downtown."