Remote Properties: Often Overlooked Safety and Security Needs

It is not uncommon for higher education institutions and other business enterprises to have facilities separate from their main campus. These can vary from a single rented office to a large expansive of property. It may be an agricultural campus of several hundred acres, with livestock, equipment, labs and students or a cultural arts center, housing artisans, crafts and finished works. It may be a neighborhood walk-in clinic affiliated with a large regional hospital system or neighborhood library miles apart from the downtown central building.  


In terms of safety and security operations more often than not we have observed during our assessments that external sites are overlooked. Most safety and security operations give attention to the central campus property. If a security or guard force is employed by the organization most are assigned to the main facility. Likewise, security technology is given a higher priority at locations with the most staff and clients.


Yet, the safety and security needs of a remote, decentralized facility cannot be neglected. Remote sites have different or unique environments from their main campuses and it follows that safety and security issues and needs are different as well. The nature and types of risks can be different in terms of crime, weather hazard and infrastructure redundancy. The public safety agencies serving remote properties may be different than the ones for main campus. The property could be in a different city or county with different protocols for emergency dispatch 9-1-1 call handling. Communications system capabilities can differ from cellular phone coverage to the public safety radio interoperability. 


As an example, in 2010 when an F 2 tornado struck the Ohio State University Agricultural Research Center in Wooster, Ohio, the campus public safety building was damaged along with police cruisers and equipment. Response operations were directed from the main campus in Columbus nearly 100 miles away. A wide area was impacted with downed poles and power lines across roadways. First responders were unable to gain access to the area on some routes. Among the difficulties encountered was trying to direct the electric company to the emergency. The electric company needed a specific customer address for their response rather than a general area or section of roadway. This proved a challenging point among the many that were being resolved under the circumstances.


Our advice for businesses or institutions with remote sites is to consider individualized assessments for these locations. Technology solutions exist that allow access to cameras, entry control systems, or alarms from multiple points. All properties should be included under a comprehensive, corporate safety and security strategy.

Lynda Buel