Northumbria University rolls out SafeZone distributed Command and Control solution for enhanced security

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle has become the first higher education establishment in Europe to implement a “pioneering” distributed Command and Control solution specifically designed to improve the safety and security of students and staff.

John Anderson, head of security at Northumbria University, selected CriticalArc’s SafeZone app not only to enhance staff and student safety but also reduce operational costs through increasing the efficiency of everyday security operations across the university’s six campuses.

By way of “unparalleled situational awareness”, SafeZone enables members of Anderson’s security team to co-ordinate incident response operations both quickly and efficiently.

In practice, the highly intuitive SafeZone app makes it far easier for Northumbria’s 30,000 students and staff to summon security or safety assistance via a simple tap on their smart phone, in turn allowing security personnel to pinpoint the exact location of any incident.

The SafeZone app includes three main features: Emergency, First Aid and General Help. With a given individual’s exact location pinpointed via the app, security officers may then be dispatched quickly and accurately to Emergency and First Aid requests. For its part, the General Help button connects individuals directly to the Campus Services Help Desk.

Students and members of staff can also ‘Check In’ via the app and make the university’s security team fully aware of their location while they’re either working alone or outside of normal hours.

Situational awareness across the team

The cloud-based SafeZone system shares situational awareness across the whole security team, affording officers access to operational intelligence on the move and thus enabling more agile decision-making. As events unfold, via smart devices all team members have complete visibility of an incident and the locations of their colleagues.

The Safe Zone app demonstrated on an iPhone

The Safe Zone app demonstrated on an iPhone

Superseding “slow, unreliable and costly” SMS solutions, SafeZone’s mass notification capability is fast and efficient, allowing Northumbria University’s security team to send alerts to all staff and students. Specific instructions may be forwarded to response teams or targeted messages can be sent to specific groups (such as local wardens).

Mass notifications may be accompanied by loud tones to warn users campus-wide or, alternatively, a discreet pulse to those perceived to be in the proximity of a threat scenario.

“We needed to consider what resources were available to us to support initiatives like 24/7 access,” commented John Anderson. “On investigating SafeZone, we were impressed with the app’s features and how it could adapt to meet the needs of both the university and the local community.”

Anderson continued: “Using this campus safety system demonstrates us taking pro-active steps to differentiate ourselves. It’s a prime demonstration of how highly the Health and Safety of our stakeholders resides on the university’s agenda. I’m 100% confident that the resources we now have in place, both technological and human, show our commitment to staff and student safety. Northumbria University is most certainly a safe place in which to work and study.”

Driving significant efficiencies and cost savings

Well suited to campuses and collegiate universities alike, SafeZone eliminates language difficulties and enables the fastest possible response to incidents, in turn realising the best outcomes for end users.

Driving significant efficiencies and cost savings, SafeZone completely safeguards university’s reputations, offers them competitive advantage and ensures preparedness against both environmental and physical threats.

Darren Chalmers-Stevens, EMEA director at CriticalArc, told Risk UK: “The University of Northumbria at Newcastle’s decision to implement SafeZone demonstrates its full commitment to ensuring a safe learning environment for students and staff. From our point of view, this project is very much a strategic win for CriticalArc with more to follow as we continue to educate the market and work with security managers and specialists at universities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”


About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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