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Virginia Community Colleges Implement Incident Reporting Platform

Twenty-three community colleges in Virginia have deployed a Web-based software platform to provide a single location for threat assessment, incident reporting, and prevention services.

The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) selected Awareity's TIPS (Threat Assessment, Incident Management, and Prevention Services), which provides tools to allow faculty, students, parents, and others to report campus incidents online, such as cyber-bullying, bullying, harassment, and violence. TIPS allows reports to be submitted anonymously or by providing a name.

It also generates real-time documentation that can be used for audits, accreditations, and analysis. Types of available reports include prevention, report, receipt, acknowledgment, response, historic, and compliance. TIPS meets reporting requirements for the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Police and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the federal law that requires colleges and universities to document crime on or around campuses.

"Before TIPS, it was often difficult to coordinate actions with each of the community college information security officers and keep track of all steps taken. Many times the system office was unaware of an incident that may have occurred on one campus and was unable to communicate lessons learned to the other campuses," explains VCCS Chief Information Security Officer Thomas Bowers. "With TIPS, we are now receiving reports in a timely fashion and can document all response efforts, saving countless hours and resources keeping track of information through e-mails, spreadsheets, and meetings."

Other features of TIPS include:

  • Instant notification of incident reports to designated team members and administrators;
  • Searchable and customizable incident reports. Actions can be reviewed by team members who will decide next steps, and reminders for follow-through tasks can be set up;
  • Role-based log-in access;
  • Uploading of supporting documents; and
  • Report sharing with specified faculty, staff, or administrators. In addition, colleges can provide documentation for training, updates, requirements, policies, and procedures, to appropriate staff members.

At VCCS, information security officers at all 23 colleges have access to TIPS. They are using the platform to share incident information and recommended actions. The online vault also monitors progress of staff members on meeting and reading training requirements mandated by the system office.

The Virginia Community College System consists of Blue Ridge Community College, Central Virginia Community College, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Danville Community College, Eastern Shore Community College, Germanna Community College, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, John Tyler Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, New River Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, Patrick Henry Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Rappahannock Community College, Southside Virginia Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College, Virginia Western Community College, and Wytheville Community College. These sit on 40 campuses, and total enrollment is almost 287,000.

For more information, visit tipsprevent.com.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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