Better Cellular Reception On Campus Can Save Lives

by Jim McEwen

Lives are saved every day by the quick response of emergency teams. It’s amazing and gratifying to hear of students saved by effective college notification systems, whether it’s a child whose heart is quickly restarted by a nearby defibrillator and faculty trained to use it, or students and faculty successfully evacuated from buildings in the case of fire, terrorist attacks, or natural disaster.

Colleges, universities, and schools of every level seek to protect their students from dangers, and provide safety procedures for the unexpected. In the instance of a gunman that was spotted with an AK-47 at the University of Texas, security officers notified everyone on campus with text messages, loudspeakers, sirens, and an online posting. Thanks to up-to-date communication systems, security teams caught up with the man before anyone could be hurt, although he did take his own life. Immediate response may have saved many students.

What if people on campus had not heard the sirens, and were in an area of a building that did not get a clear cellular signal? What if staff needed a defibrillator to save a life, but they couldn’t locate it and the appropriate staff quickly enough? With a clear cell signal, and fully functioning wi-fi, they could send messages for help, and receive vital alerts and instructions.

Clearly, when there’s a problem on campus, wireless communications capability inside buildings is critical. However, those ivy-covered brick walls of old, solid buildings often don’t allow signals in, creating areas with little or no cellular reception. Newer, green buildings block cellular reception with low-emissivity windows and aluminum-clad insulation.

Furthermore, cellular carriers are now using 3G and 4G frequencies that carry higher data transmission on larger bandwidths. The higher frequencies allow carriers to serve more customers in populated places, but they don’t penetrate buildings as well as lower signals.

Harris Communications can make cell phones work in all these buildings, with all these frequencies, so that officers and campus officials can email or text all students right away. Security staff can tap a database to send an alert of the situation and issue life-saving instructions.

Carrier-neutral installation by Harris Communications ensures that each cell provider gets equal coverage inside college, university, business parks, medical, municipality, and government campuses. In addition, we represent and mediate as your advocate with all the cellular carrier networks to develop a network without frequency feedback, providing efficient service.

Harris Communications builds a college campus DAS, or distributive antenna solution, that provides wireless service to every area of its buildings. This network is customized using active repeaters, splitters and feeders for multi-building campuses, and optimized for each building type to get the same dependable signal.

The result is cellular and wi-fi access enabled all over the campus: where calls for help are sent, warning messages are heard, student safety is improved, and lives are saved.