Technology initiatives making Virginia Tech more secure

September 23, 2013, Blacksburg, Va.


A variety of high-tech initiatives assist Virginia Tech’s police department, emergency responders, and facility managers to make campus a safer and more secure place. These projects highlight the many ways that Virginia Tech works to protect students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus from both natural and man-made hazards.

Both new and ongoing initiatives were showcased at a Blacksburg campus meeting and discussion organized by Converged Technologies for Security, Safety and Resilience on August 7, 2013. Application developers and project leaders from information technology, the office of emergency management, and Virginia Tech police; research faculty from the Center for Geospatial Information Technology and the Center for Embedded Systems for Critical Applications; and regional emergency communications managers offered six presentations and six posters on the following topics:

  • VT Alerts – integrated with VT News, Twitter, and social media, capable of delivering push notifications, and tied in with building alarm systems to deliver audio alerts over fire alarm speakers.

  • Regional 9-1-1 Center – a regional partnership consolidating four centers (VT, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County) into one, providing better service and improved response times throughout the region.

  • Web Mapping – direct access to statewide geospatial data resources makes new tools, such as the new Interactive Campus Map, possible.

  • Campus Population Modeling – a geospatial platform and analysis that models overall campus population in terms of where the greatest concentrations of people are likely to be at any given time on campus, based on generalized, aggregated university data.

  • Networked Security Cameras – initial phases of high quality camera deployment are being used by the Virginia Tech Police for resolving incidents on campus that impact security and safety.

  • Identity Management and Credentialing – more than 800,000 electronic identities are in use, providing varying levels of access to Virginia Tech’s electronic resources.  There is an increasing need for various forms of guest and affiliate identities, including for security and safety-related purposes.

  • GEMINI – iOS app provides guidance and preparedness information tailored to the VT community before, during, and after an emergency. The app is integrated with VT Alerts, and allows quick location of emergency resources.

  • Game Day GIS - stadium safety application provides real-time situational awareness, resource tracking, and post-game statistical/ geospatial analysis of incident trouble spots during home football games.

  • Mining Rare Features in Fingerprints – Computerized analysis of minute features of fingerprints allow for a much higher degree of certainty when used for forensic purposes.

  • PD Plus Lookup Tool – integrated identity lookup tool allows VT police to access law enforcement information available about registered individuals on campus, without requiring searches across multiple databases.

  • Updated Hazard Mitigation Plan – identifies and assesses hazards impacting the Blacksburg campus, and develops strategies to reduce their impact.

These projects are ongoing within the administrative services and information technologies areas to enhance campus security and safety.  “Our goal is to convene a meeting each year to share these initiatives with the university community,” says Brenda van Gelder, executive director, Converged Technologies for Security, Safety and Resilience.  “We welcome participation from other university departments or student groups that are interested in participating or attending future meetings.” Video of the presentations, as well as downloadable slide sets and PDF versions of the posters are available on the Converged Technologies Annual Meeting page.