International Security Journal: ISJ Exclusive: Leveraging Technology to Protect Soft Targets – 25th September 2019

Eric Plummer, Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police at the University of North Dakota (UND) highlights the importance of incorporating technology into security systems. In UND’s case, this includes Patriot One Technologies.

Gun violence continues to be a serious issue across the US. With 309 mass shootings recorded so far this year alone, protecting vulnerable soft targets such as educational institutions, houses of worship, retail stores, office buildings and music/event venues continue to remain a key priority for law enforcement across the country.

Eric Plummer
Eric Plummer

In order to best protect the public, those in charge of safeguarding these locations must begin to think beyond traditional security systems. This means looking for and implementing solutions that capitalise on the benefits of technology to enhance existing security.

It is very encouraging to see institutions beginning to embrace this approach and lead the way in adopting new solutions. For example, at the University of North Dakota, where cutting-edge, multi- sensor threat detection technologies are being tested to detect concealed weapons, with a view to incorporating these technologies into the security posture.

SPOTLIGHT ON: University of North Dakota

Can you provide some background on the University?

The University of North Dakota (UND) is a public education and research university located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was established in 1883 by the Dakota Territorial Assembly and is the state’s oldest institution of higher education.

The university is home to several high-profile programmes and national research institutions, including the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, the Energy and Environmental Research Center, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center. UND also has several large athletic facilities which are used as special event and concert venues, drawing thousands of visitors from across the region.

Why did you see the need to upgrade the university’s security system?

With the increase of international and domestic threats to soft target locations such as schools and universities, government facilities and event and sports venues, protecting these sites is becoming an increasingly urgent challenge.

As threats evolve and become harder to detect, it’s essential to work with new technologies to minimise threats and protect communities. In the event of a critical incident, every second counts and the ability to quickly respond to and stabilise the incident is crucial.

For us at UND, integrating technology to work with existing security systems sets us apart from our peers. It allows the University to be seen as a national leader in campus safety, defending against and deterring potential incidents of violence.

Why did you choose Patriot One above other solutions?

We had worked with other vendors in integrating security systems, but some of these partners did not meet our expectations, either with integrating legacy systems or addressing privacy concerns from our community.

We started working with Patriot One in October 2016, after meeting them at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference in San Diego, CA, where they presented a compelling concept on future threat detection technology and the changing landscape for security. A concept they are now delivering to the marketplace, including with us at UND.

We were attracted to Patriot One because of its artificial-intelligence (AI) driven platform approach to physical security and its philosophy of incorporating people, policy and platform within security concept. Taken as a whole, this approach combines human expertise and technology with foundational policies that initiate appropriate responses for the quick and accurate detection of threats.

The use of new AI enhanced technologies can better leverage the human factor, while providing for a more comprehensive physical protection programme. This aligns with Patriot One’s people, policy and platform solution, as well as the goals and security posture of the University of North Dakota.

What results have you seen so far?

The UND is still in early stage deployment of the PATSCAN Multi-Sensor Covert Threat Detection Platform but has already seen overwhelming support for the technology from students, faculty and staff. It’s widely recognised that this technology will assist in keeping UND a safe place to live, learn, work and visit.

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