New security system designed to keep threats out

The new emergency lock buttons are slowly appearing in lecture halls across campus as a step to ensure the safety of students.

Over winter break, USF Facilities Planning and Management implemented a new safety system across campus to ensure the protection of students, faculty and staff on university grounds. 

“We want to improve student safety during active threat events,” Aaron Nichols, assistant director of communications, said.

While faculty and staff might be aware of protective measures, students can be left in the dark.

Each building on campus is assigned a building manager, who is then expected to report to faculty and staff of the building to inform students of safety protocols, according to Nichols.

While safety is the utmost importance for Facilities Planning and Management, procedure can be lost in a moment of crisis. 

The emergency door lock systems are an additive protection to the pre-existing building access control system. Buildings on campus are locked daily with the program — in the event of a hostile situation, the red buttons can be pushed to “override” the scheduled locking and enact the entire building to be put on lockdown. This security measure for a stand-alone lecture hall, like ENA and ULH, will require two or more buttons to be installed.  

Already 10 buttons are installed across campus, with an additional 10 projected to be installed within this year. 

 The funding for the buttons came from Facilities Management, which is a division of Administrative Services. The cost of each lock is specific to the environment adherence of the building, according to Nichols.

Most of the buildings on campus on an access control system are timed. Using the same system to operate these locks, faculty offices have a different locking system than larger classrooms and lecture halls, making it impossible to implement the same system, according to Nichols. 

The emergency locks should be activated only when there is a threat in the immediate area. After activation, a phone call to 911 should be made immediately following by the individual responsible for activation.

Occupants have the option to exit the room, but the door will be locked from outside. Doors cannot be unlocked by pressing the button a second time.  They must be unlocked remotely by Facilities Planning and Management or University Police.

Lights accurately display the status of the locking system. Green and red LED lights are located directly next to the button — green indicates a normal/unlocked condition, while red indicates that the room has been locked down.

Currently, depending on the budget, it will be decided if more will be administered across campus.