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Many security improvements made since terrorist attacks

Restricted vehicular access, increased physical barriers, more guards and patrols, improved communications and lighting, increased training and new procedures are among the many steps that have been taken in the past year to improve security on the MIT campus.

"Everyone is much more aware of security concerns since 9/11, and much more vigilant about potential threats," said Executive Vice President John R. Curry. "We have taken steps to improve security while simultaneously working to sustain MIT's academic values of openness, community and protection of the privacy of individuals within our community."

In presenting early this year the findings of the Task Force on Campus Security, Curry noted, "There are few, if any, measures that will protect people and property from the dedicated terrorist attack."

Reducing the probability of some kinds of terrorist attacks, he said, can be achieved through "broad and systemic initiatives that will enhance safety and security across the campus."

MIT is working with the Center for Civil Force Protection, operated by Sandia National Laboratories, to implement security systems in academic departments.

A Security Operations Team has been established, headed by William Van Schalkwyk, director of environmental health and safety programs. The team includes Jerry Diaz, director of the Safety Office; MIT Police Chief John DiFava; Louis Diberardinis, director of Environmental Medical Services; Joseph Gifun, head of infrastructure and special projects in Facilities; John McDonald, assistant director of Enterprise Services; Martin O'Brien, manager of Mail Services; and James Wallace, head of operations for Facilities.

The team has prioritized tasks and is responsible for implementing security projects. The Department of Facilities has established a Facilities Protection Team to coordinate security tasks related to the physical plant.

The initiatives on security in the past year include the following.


Truck and vehicle access to the interior of the campus has been limited by erecting physical obstacles such as concrete jersey barriers and by increasing the number of attendants at gates and on lot patrol.

The campus electronic alarm and electronic entry system was transferred successfully from telephone lines to a digital web-based system that substantially increases capacity, limits disruption of phone lines, and provides greater flexibility at less expense.

Doors were upgraded to provide greater security at the mail service center and the distributed mail centers.

The management of electronic locking has been centralized and assiged to the Card Office.


Additional barriers were put in place at the research reactor and a Campus Police officer was assigned to the building around the clock.

Campus Police are redesigning officer deployment to let them spend more time walking beats and riding bikes to provide greater coverage of the campus.


A mobile Campus Police command center was created by modifying one of the police vans.

The MIT Police radio system is being upgraded to 800 MHz, allowing rapid integration with city and state police, fire and emergency management systems.

An incident command system has been instituted.

Campus lighting has been surveyed and recommendations for enhancements to outdoor and street lighting at the Institute have been made.

Ten new emergency "blue light" phones will be installed this fall at Ashdown House, Burton House, Bexley Hall, East Campus, Building W31 (Campus Police), 70 Pacific St., two at Simmons Hall, and two in Killian Court at buildings 3 and 6.


Certain contractors are required to wear visible identification badges, and all MIT Facilities employees are encouraged to do so.

Processes developed by the U.S. Postal Service were implemented to protect mail handlers and MIT staff.

A comprehensive protocol for the handling of potential anthrax threats was implemented.

All emergency response protocols have been reviewed.

All locations of hazardous material on campus have been inventoried and reviewed for security.


Training and materials for campus emergency response personnel have been substantially revised, and more than 100 staff members have completed the new training.

The Business Continuity Management Team has conducted mock emergency training, and MIT participated in a local area mock emergency with the Cambridge Emergency Management Team and has staff members assigned as integral members of the local emergency management system.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 2002.

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