skip to main content

Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2014 / 10 

Campus safety and security further enhanced with technology

October 30, 2014

VT rescue squad personnel overlook the crowd at Lane Stadium during a home football game.
A member of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad surveys the crowd during a home football game. Several current technology projects are working to increase safety, improve emergency response, and increase situational awareness at Lane Stadium.

In the ongoing effort to make campus more safe, Virginia Tech is supporting the development and use of technologies that provide better information on threats and vulnerabilities, improve response times for emergency personnel, facilitate communication between citizens and police, and even predict outcomes for a variety of emergency scenarios.

Virginia Tech’s Converged Technologies for Security, Safety, and Resilience unit is exploring and collaborating with university researchers and practitioners on projects that merge information science, computer networking, and geospatial modeling and simulation technology with traditional forms of communication to support emergency managers and first responders. 

These projects include:

  • LiveSafe: A new mobile app, launched this fall at Virginia Tech, which allows students, faculty, and staff to send tips to Virginia Tech Police, share their location with friends and family, find their way around campus, and access alerts and emergency preparedness information. The app is in use at a number of other universities across the nation.
  • Broadband deployment for public safety network: Wireless@VT is testing a new broadband system utilizing long-term evolution (LTE) over 3.5 Ghz band spectrum to improve coordination and interoperability for public safety, allow device-to-device communication, and improve reliability.
  • Space inventory: Administrative Services has collaborated with Information Technology to help secure their inventory of floor plans, room data, and imagery for all buildings and structures at the university. This spatial data is useful for situational awareness and emergency response.
  • Lane Stadium evacuation simulation: Computer scientists and visualization experts created a model to simulate a stadium evacuation for the purpose of enhancing evacuation procedures in Lane Stadium, with variables including movement speed, congestion points, and reactions to blocked exits.
  • Campus population model: Counts active wifi links within each wifi-enabled building on campus, providing emergency managers an estimate of the number of people likely to be in each location. The application is updated in near real time, enabling mapping of general population shifts and areas of congestion without identifying or tracking individuals.

“These cross-disciplinary collaborations are having a positive impact on safety, security, and resilience at the university and within the wider community," Brenda van Gelder, executive director of converged technologies for security, safety, and resilience. 

A forum showcasing these technologies is held annually in late summer. Campus researchers interested in presenting new technology innovations involving physical safety and security should email Brenda van Gelder.

Video of the presentations from the 2014 event, as well as slide sets and PDF versions of the posters are available on the Technology Showcase page.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Contacts: