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Minnesota College Tightens Security Management

Gustavus Adolphus College has turned to a Web-based system to help manage safety and emergency information. The private liberal arts college, which is based in St. Peter, MN, will also use the application, NaviGate from Lauren Innovations, to strengthen its coordination with first responders and manage training of its public safety officers. Recently, the company rolled out version 5.0 of the software.

"I was looking for a one-stop-shopping, Web-based, highly secured, integrated emergency management system," said Director of Campus Safety Raymond Thrower. "It took me almost 13 years, but NaviGate fit the bill completely."

Shortly after joining the staff in 1998, Thrower said, the college was hit with a major tornado that caused $50 million in damage. "When the tornado hit, we lost everything. All of our emergency plans were on paper; but even if they had been stored electronically, the computers were inaccessible; our servers were down; and we had no back-up location off-campus."

Thrower was drawn to NaviGate as a way to store the college's emergency and building plans offsite and as a way to allow first responders to get to them in the event of an emergency. NaviGate stores user information in two data centers on opposite sides of the country, one in the east and the other in the southwest.

Version 5.0 of NaviGate, formally released during the first week of January 2011, includes a new document management module that allows users to create, store, edit, and add documents and then link them to multiple areas of the institution for permission-based access.

The new version also includes an incident management module, which can be used to log and maintain reports on security incidents and crimes. Because the data about these incidents can be integrated with site and building plans, the resulting mashup provides a way for campus police to know which hotspots may need additional monitoring.

"An incident report in NaviGate can alert me to a high amount of automobile break-ins on a specific campus lot; it can further drill down to show what time of the day this is more likely to occur," explained Thrower. "This knowledge gives me the ability to assign frequent patrols in that area or install a camera in the lot to alleviate the problem."

The college will also use the service to manage officer training. "With NaviGate, I can assign each of my officers training content and then follow it up with a test," said Thrower. The application allows the user to transfer existing Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)-compliant materials directly into its learning management module or to create, assign, and track new content.

"Having a system that is easy to use on a daily basis is the key. If the time comes again where [people] need to be ready to move in an emergency situation, they'll be able to act in an instant and not scramble around trying to locate user-names and passwords--or worse--binders, phone numbers and action plans," said Thrower.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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