There has been dramatic change in the role that technology plays in ensuring safety on college campuses.

“I heard Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security chief, say that our budgets won’t allow us to triple or quadruple the number of people responsible for safety,” said Ted Collins, president and chief operating officer of InterAct Public Safety Systems, a company headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Technology will have to carry the load with the same number of officers and act as a force multiplier of their abilities.”

Most college campuses are looking at campus notification systems that respond to and perhaps anticipate emergency situations. Pagers, cell phones and even loudspeakers in dorm rooms have become key elements in alerting college communities of danger.

There is a new emphasis on technology that ensures the safety of first responders and helps them to perform their jobs effec-tively. According to Collins, this technology must be mobile to protect a widely dispersed public. Officers on bikes or horses, as well as those in police cars, must be able to receive and transmit information at any time.

These technologies also must provide interoperability to enable first responders to communicate with their dispatchers, officers in the field, neighboring towns and the private sector. In the event of a catastrophe, information must be shared to ensure that uni-versities quickly secure vital resources.

Collins predicts that in the future, biometrics, which includes fingerprint technology and retinal scans, and remote video wireless technologies will be increasingly popular at colleges and universities.

“This trend will be pushing the needle back and forth about what is the appropriate use of technology versus what constitutes an invasion of privacy,” he said.