Safety at Colby College:  Location of Emergency Call Boxes Marked by Blue Lights and Vulnerable Locations at Colby College

 

Emily Ten Eyck (’13)

ES212:  Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing

Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, Maine

 

Abstract

 

Emergency Call Boxes have been implemented into the security procedures at Colby College.  The purpose of this project is to evaluate the visibility of the Emergency Call Boxes that can be located by an accompanying blue light.  I found that 44.2% of my study area has visibility of a blue light, 6 buildings of 38 buildings at Colby college have less than 50% visibility in the area around the building, and 16.7% of paths and roads do not have visibility of a blue light. 

 

Introduction

 

In recent years, there has been an increase in concern over the safety on college campuses.  In response, colleges have reevaluated their security and safety procedures.  Many campuses have implemented Emergency Call Boxes to their security measures, including Colby College.  The idea behind Emergency Call Boxes is if a student needs security’s assistance for any reason, they can push the emergency button on the call box which can be located by a blue light above it.  Colby College Security claims to respond within 60 seconds. I analyzed the visibility of Blue Lights on Colby’s campus and the cost of reaching an Emergency Call Box in the case of an emergency. 

I had three questions for this project:  (1) Where are blue lights not visible at Colby College?  (2)  Are there any vulnerable buildings, specifically dorms and academic buildings, that have a limited view of blue lights in the area surrounding them?  (3)  Which paths at Colby do not have visibility of a blue light? 

 

Methods

 

I used ESRI’s ArcGIS software to conduct the analysis of blue light visibility at Colby College with data provided by Colby’s Physical Plant Department. I carried out a viewshed analysis to identify areas on campus there blue lights are and are not visible.  I used major elevation contour lines of Colby’s campus to interpolate a Digital Elevation Model (DEM).  I added buildings to the DEM by assigning them a height of 200 meters.  For the purposes of my project, the height of the buildings did not need to be exact, because the assigned elevation simply needed to block the visibility of blue lights. I manually inserted the placement of Emergency Call Boxes with blue lights into my map.  I completed a viewshed analysis of the visibility of blue lights at Colby College, offsetting the blue lights 3 meters above ground (Figure 1).

 

Second, I analyzed the vulnerability defined as a building with less than 50% visibility of blue lights in the area surrounding the building.  I created a nine meter buffer around each building and then calculated the percent visibility based off the viewshed analysis (Figure 2). 

 

Finally, I selected all path and road segments where there is no visibility of blue lights firstviewshed.jpgbased off the viewshed analysis.

Buffer.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Results

 

I found that 44.2% of my study area has visibility of a blue light, 6 buildings of 38 buildings at Colby College have less than 50% visibility in the area around the building, and 16.7% of paths and roads do not have visibility of a blue light. Table 1 shows the buildings with less that 50% visibility of blue lights surrounding the building. Figure 4 highlights the buildings with less than 50% visibility and the paths where a blue light is not visible. 

 

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Figure 3:  Visibility of blue lights at Colby College and vulnerable buildings identified by the percent visibility in the area surround the building. (Pink indicates that a blue light is not visible from that location)

 
 

 

 

 

 


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Figure 4:  Paths without a visible blue light and buildings with less than 50% of the area surrounding the building with a visible blue light. 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  Building

Percent Visibility

  Treworgy

37.8

  Heights

46.2

  Hillside

47.7

  Foss/Woodman

28.8

  Alfond Apartments

34.0

  Dana

23.9

Table 1:  Buildings with less than 50% blue light visibility.

 

 

 

 

Discussion

 

There were limitations to my investigation of the visibility of blue lights at Colby College.  First, my study only investigated the visibility of emergency call boxes with blue lights.  There are also security call boxes near the main entrance of almost every dorm on campus, but these call boxes do not have a blue light.  Second, My viewshed analysis also did not incorporate vegetation, like trees and bushes, which may block the view of some blue lights. The variation of vegetation on campus makes incorporating the data difficult and it would not greatly benefit the results in terms of the purpose of this project.  Third, The data supplied by the Physical Plant Department had several missing and misplaced blue lights from the map they provided.   Thus, I am not confident I identified every missing/misplaced blue light.  Finally, although a blue light may be visible, it may not be plausible to go to that light in the case of an emergency. 

However, this project does identify areas on campus where the visibility may limited or non existent.  This project may be used to suggest future placement of new call boxes with blue lights at Colby College.  For future research, I would include trees and vegetation to the viewshed analysis and set a maximum distance to simulate the plausibility of going to a particular blue light in the event of an emergency. 

 

Conclusion

 

Despite the limitations of this project, I was able to identify areas where a blue light is not visible based on my results.  The areas surrounding buildings on the southern portion of campus (Woodman, Dana, Heights, Hillside) have the least visibility of blue lights.  Because of the limitations to this project, the results should only be a reference tool to help place new emergency call boxes with blue lights. 

 

Acknowledgements

 

I would like to thank Colby’s Physical Plant Department for providing the data of emergency call box locations.  I would also like to thanks Manny Gimond and Philip Nyhus for all of their help with and guidance on this project.  I would also like to acknowledge Medhan Cornwall and Francis Gassert’s project “Outdoor Lighting on Colby College Campus”.  Their project inspired helped guide me through this project.