According to a poll conducted by Noodle Education, three out of every four parents ranked “a safe environment” as their number one concern. This answer speaks volumes since it was ranked above “acquisition of real-world marketable skills,” “a first-rate academic experience,” and “affordability”.
Interestingly, the poll interviewed two sets of parents: those with high school students about to leave for college and those with college-age students. The parents of high school students ranked “the college is a good fit” as the number one concern with “a safe environment” coming in a close second. However, once their children leave for college, “a safe environment” becomes the number one priority to parents.
With campus safety as a clear priority to parents, schools must find ways to demonstrate their commitment to security. In order to make that initiative clear to parents, schools must have detailed emergency plans in place that are compliant with the Clery Act, in addition to a stationed emergency operations center with a commander or director in charge of operations.
However, even when those things are in place, they are still misalignments as different teams and departments rarely work together for a cohesive emergency preparedness and response. As a result, when an incident arises schools are often forced into a more reactive response. In order to counteract this type of response, institutions should be utilizing a web-based incident management system to improve their ability to cohesively prepare and respond to emergencies. By incorporating a high level emergency response tool, parents will be ensured that their main concern is being addressed and taken seriously.
Freshman orientation is an example of how a school can enhance preparedness for a complex incident. Orientation is a layered, multi-pronged event where students may be waiting in lines for dorm assignments, walking between various events on campus, and going on tours and moving in with their parents. The emergency preparation part of orientation includes documenting response procedures at key gathering areas, establishing communication protocols, and setting up live RSS feeds to monitor weather and traffic reports.
By implementing an incident management tool to adequately monitor campus events, questions such as, “Is there going to be a severe thunderstorm that would require relocating student events?” “Are gathering areas equipped with the proper medical devices?” and “Do we have police staged to re-route traffic in the event of an emergency?” become easy to answer and are properly communicated.
In the event that an emergency occurs, such as a severe storm causing downed trees and other damage on campus, an incident management tool can seamlessly move from monitoring operations to proactively responding to the incident. Anyone with a mobile device that’s logged into the incident management tool can upload pictures and video so campus personnel can monitor the event and communicate information to authorities. Mobile users can also submit resource requests from the field that personnel can monitor and process real-time.
It is clear that safety and security is a top concern on campuses around the world and it is every school’s desire to ensure their students and faculty are safe at all times. By creating detailed emergency preparedness plans and utilizing an incident management tool, institutions will have properly demonstrated their commitment to campus security.