New Radio System Heightens Campus Security


CHICAGO (October 27, 2009) – When Dan Gooris, director of campus security and a former police chief, first came to North Park University in 2006, his priority was to ensure the University’s track record of safety.

At the time, North Park’s residential campus—which today encompasses four square city blocks that wind through the surrounding neighborhood—was still growing. And with the University beginning to purchase buildings that were not always adjacent to the main campus, Gooris knew it would need to upgrade its existing radio communication system to support a wider area.

“It’s a good neighborhood but it’s still an urban campus and it’s near public transportation,” he explains. “People get off the bus and some wander through the campus simply because of the beautiful landscape and peaceful environment.”

Because North Park is an open campus, maintaining security becomes even more challenging. So Gooris reached out to Motorola to discuss options for updating the University’s radio system.

The company suggested MOTORBO digital two-way radios, which would provide greater communications reliability and longer talk time. This fall, North Park distributed the state-of-the-art radios to all members of its security staff and facilities personnel, as well as to the library, residence halls, and resource centers.

Each radio has the capability to transmit and receive private individual calls and group communications within up to a mile radius of campus—extending coverage from Holmgren Athletic Complex to Magnuson Campus Center and beyond.

This is especially important because North Park offers a campus safety escort service for students.

“We have a lot of students who work off campus or need rides to and from public transportation centers,” says Gooris. “Last year we gave 575 shuttle rides, many between midnight and 4:00 am. Kids can call anytime from dusk to dawn and we can dispatch an officer knowing he or she will be able to communicate back to the campus as needed.”

In the case of an on-campus emergency—such as an elevator malfunction during transport, a flood, or a power outage—the ability to instantly communicate with facility engineers and maintenance crews has also been a big plus, Gooris notes.

He plans to add a data application to the MOTOTRBO system, which would allow him to document details for each incoming call, including the time and nature of the call, what the caller reported, and the action taken by dispatch and security staff. Gooris hopes to use the information to train dispatchers to determine levels of emergency and to provide security officers with situational awareness. The application will provide proof that the student dispatchers handled calls appropriately, security officers arrived on scene within a reasonable amount of time, and that the call was handled properly from beginning to end.