Oct 16 2012

Modern Universities Are Ready for Anything

How today's colleges handle surveillance and disaster recovery.

The IT team often goes about its work behind the scenes. "No news is good news" is a common refrain in the world of technologists.

But some responsibilities bring IT departments front and center — among them, campus security and disaster recovery. In both cases, students, faculty and staff alike look to the technology teams on their campuses for advice, service and support.

Consider campus security: Increasingly, security operations tap into high-end technologies. The decision to install IT-enabled security systems pays off in numerous ways.

At Nicholls State University, for example, digital surveillance cameras have provided campus police with evidence to solve a sexual assault and have proved instrumental in determining fault in motor vehicle accidents.

The system has reduced crime on campus. "Everyone now knows that we have big eyes," says Nicholls' Craig Jaccuzzo. "So now we have less crime going on, and the crime we do have we can focus on solving."

There's that intangible peace of mind too, notes Kyle Giles of Ivy Tech Community College. "Your security guard is not going to be able to see every person who walks in a building, but your cameras do," he says. "Your camera system doesn't sleep. It's always watching, and we can see what it sees in real time or go back and see it if we need to. That reality provides us with a lot of comfort."

To read more about campus security, flip to "Safety from on High."

Ready for Anything

Likewise, disaster recovery relies heavily on IT. This summer, with wildfires burning dangerously near, the tech team at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs found itself providing services even beyond campus. "All of a sudden, we were in a mode of trying to do things to support the city," recalls Jerry Wilson.

The IT team focuses on being able to maintain systems all the time, no matter what, Wilson says — an approach that evolved over the past decade.

Adds Bo Miller of Lock Haven University, "You have to scale your DR solutions to the needs of your campus," and those change over time.

Learn more about current disaster preparedness and recovery strategies in our "Continuity on ­Campus" articles "How Three Modern Campuses Tackle Disaster Recovery" and "Disaster Recovery 101: How to Upgrade After a Storm."

We hope these and the issue's other pieces — including articles about document management, collaborating through telepresence, deploying Office 365 and adopting e-textbooks — will help your IT team prep for the future.