University Access Control Systems: Better Security for the College Campus
Security for colleges and universities is a major concern for students, staff, and faculty. From personal safety against assault and robbery to property protection against burglary and damage, universities and colleges face a need for methods to keep everyone on a campus safe. Thus, campuses need to keep classrooms, offices, storage areas, and other rooms locked when not in use whenever practically possible, and they must lock dormitory entries and prevent unmonitored access by anyone other than residents. In other words, universities and colleges need access control systems.
Access control can be as simple as a lock and key, but if these keys get lost or stolen, rekeying the locks becomes expensive and time-consuming, especially when you consider how many locks are on a single college campus. Moreover, keys can easily be copied with as little as a photograph and a 3D printer or a smartphone and a locksmith. Therefore, universities should take a more modern approach to these systems. Here are some things to consider when deciding on an access control system for your university or college.
Digital Is the Way to Go
Digital locks are more secure than a key system. These locks usually work with cards of some form or another. The great part about using this type of access control system on a university campus is the flexibility it grants administrators. Digital locks and keycard information can be set to automatically lock and unlock doors at preset times, to allow access for specific individuals during off-hours and prevent access for unauthorized individuals, to instantly activate a campus lockdown in case of emergency, and to immediately deactivate lost or stolen keycards.
In addition, these keycards are harder to duplicate than traditional keys, and they leave a digital record of card reader activity that can be useful if an investigation is necessary. Furthermore, some digital systems allow for door alarms that go off if the door is propped open, and some even detect tailgating (when one person opens a door and someone else follows them through the door without authorization).
Different Kinds of Digital Keys and Locks
Keycards (also called card keys)
Most universities and colleges in the United States now use magstripe card keys and swipe-in digital locks to grant access to certain areas like dining halls or labs. Of the three major kinds of keycards, however, these are the least secure and easiest to duplicate, and they are also the most susceptible to wear and tear. Proximity cards are more durable, more secure, and harder to duplicate, but they do cost more than their magstripe counterparts.
Smart cards, by far, are considered to be the most secure and the hardest to duplicate, but they are also the most expensive. However, these also come with computer chips that can facilitate multiple functionalities, including cashless vending, event access, digital tickets, and more. These are widely popular in Europe due to their security and versatility.
PINs and Passcodes
PINs can be used in conjunction with keycards and other forms of digital keys as an added measure of security. While they are inexpensive to change and issue, they also are difficult to keep track of. People can easily forget their PIN, or they may write the passcode down and lose the piece of paper, adding to the security risk. Plus, it’s more difficult to manage a security system on a university or college campus with so many different passcodes for different systems. These also tend to be slower when multiple people are trying to gain access to the same area, and they are more prone to tailgating.
Tailgate Detectors (also called Piggyback Detectors)
Tailgate detectors monitor an entry point and allow only one person to enter per authorization (keycard, PIN, or passcode verification). They also detect when a door has been propped open. These are a good way to increase security at access controlled entry points on a university or college campus. As an added bonus, they are easy to install and can be used in conjunction with card readers and passcode or PIN keypads.
Biometrics use fingerprints, handprints, retinal patterns, iris patterns, or facial features as the key to an access controlled area. Each authorized person’s individual biometrics are programmed into the system. Therefore, these are extremely difficult to replicate or forget, as these authorizations are part of a person’s unique physical attributes. However, biometric access control systems for universities and colleges tend to be very expensive, and if they are compromised, the problem is very difficult to fix.
Intercoms can allow campus personnel to communicate with each other and grant access on a case-by-case basis. These are excellent for identifying and granting access to visitors to the campus in areas like dorm lobbies, parking lots, and other similar areas. However, they aren’t very useful in areas that see a lot of foot traffic, and they also require modifications to be useful for those who are hearing impaired.
College Access Control Systems for Different Areas of the Campus
Having a biometric scanner at the entrance of every classroom and education building isn’t exactly practical, but keycards can be used during off hours to provide access to labs or other resources and keep a record of it. However, you may want biometrics of some kind in conjunction with your university keycards in order to access dormitories beyond the lobby area. Some campus dorms can benefit from an intercom system to allow visitors to get into the lobby of the dorm so they can check in with security personnel before entering, and some prefer to have an intercom to grant access to restricted parking areas or other campus locations. You can set keycards for certain individuals (such as staff or student employees) to allow access to specific equipment storage rooms, but it won’t allow them into storage rooms they are not authorized to access.
Call in the Access Control Experts for Your University or College Campus
It may seem like a lot to plan, install, and maintain a security system that includes access control on your university or college campus, but you don’t have to do it alone. Customer 1st Communications offers professional, customizable access control planning and installation services that can help make your campus safer and more secure. Plus, we don’t just work with access control systems; we also can create a complete security system for your university, including CCTV, that works in concert with your access control. For a free consultation or if you have any questions, call 855-TECH-C1C (855-832-4212) or contact us online.