By Leonard Combs
EKU is currently in the process of updating campus security. The university is looking to install additional cameras, revise the campus security systems, and encourage students to take advantage of the LiveSafe app.
LiveSafe is a smartphone app by LiveSafe, Inc. that’s free for students to use. It allows users to send texts and photos directly to the EKU police. Users can also invite friends to watch over them via GPS and request officers to escort them.
“No one person can keep everybody safe, so we all have to look out for one-another,” emergency manager of environmental health and safety Gary Folckemer said.
The app license costs EKU $27,500 a year. EKU introduced it to campus life in Spring 2016, and it was fully funded by SGA. This year, the cost is divided between SGA, the Division of Student Success and Student Life, and Finance and Administration.
Eastern has been encouraging increased usage of LiveSafe. However, some students feel indifferent to it.
“I don’t use LiveSafe,” Kyle Williams, 22, parks and rec major said. “I think it’s good to have, but I don’t think about safety too much.”
Outside of the app, EKU has been working on various other safety revisions on campus. Last year, the university contracted CMTA, a consultant engineer ing firm, to analyze campus operations with the priorities of safety to personnel first and the protection of property second.
“It’s security analysis and consultation services,” Folckemer said.
CMTA is suggesting changes to Eastern’s video management system, electronic security protocols and business continuity planning.
“They have done projects for just about all the universities in Kentucky,” Folckemer said. EKU chose CMTA in part because of the work that was seen at other colleges, he said.
“We’re able to partner with them as projects are coming on board so that they can give us real-time recommendations,” executive director of public safety and risk management Bryan Makinen said. “Eastern has been working with CMTA as new construction is done so that not only can pre-existing structures can undergo analysis, but also so that new buildings and projects can get optimal security systems integrated immediately.”
As it stands, 329 security cameras exist on campus. EKU isn’t sure how many more will go up by the completion of ongoing construction projects.
“They don’t get put in places where there’s a reasonable expectation for privacy,” Makinen said of the cameras. He said that Eastern will not incorporate cameras in places as restrooms and dorm rooms.
EKU uses various camera types, such as stationary or tilt-and-zoom, among differing brands. This method prevents the university from confinement to a single company, which would leave Eastern vulnerable to one company raising prices. It would also force EKU to contract with another brand if that business were to go bankrupt.
To further support multiple security camera brands, CMTA aims to help Eastern unify its video security management systems. These are the servers to which the cameras connect. All residence halls are under a system called ResNet. However, all other campus structures have individual security management systems.
“Currently we have several different systems,” Makinen said. “Which means several different logins, several different computer programs that you utilized to access the video systems.”
The singular video management system aims to provide a single platform by which the university can manage all cameras.
Unifying the video security management systems on campus also means that specific cameras will work anywhere on campus.
“You will have one consistent platform with consistent capabilities,” said Makinen.
CMTA is also directing EKU in efforts to convert building security to an electric system, where staff enters buildings by first scanning a fob. The security server then registers those fob scans, which allows the campus police to see who tried to enter a building and when.
During certain times, not even a fob will be able to open Some buildings. These electronic systems will also allow personnel to lock a building at scheduled times, as opposed to manually securing every entrance with a key.
“We’re very appreciative that university administration is taking a stance to put a high level of importance on the safety of our entire university population,” Makinen said.
The Eastern Progress will follow up with the business details of the CMTA contract at a later date.