Throughout a college student’s tenure, one piece of technology inevitably controls many facets of their university experience: an access card. Students use access cards to enter campus buildings, pay for items in the bookstore, grab food from the cafeteria, check out books from the library and even gain access to sporting events. While access control systems can be an essential element leading to a seamless campus experience, this technology is also a built-in safeguard to their overall security. According to the U.S. Department of Education Campus Safety and Security Survey, 37,389 criminal offenses were reported on higher education campuses in 2016. Of those crimes, more than 36 percent were burglaries. While access control credential management could be addressed with more persistence, ensuring that effective security solutions are in place is an utmost necessity in today’s educational climate.

Safety is, more than ever, a top concern for students and their parents when deciding on which college to attend. According to a recently published survey by College Board, a non-profit membership organization that serves educational institutions, 86 percent of parents believe the physical safety of a campus is a significant factor when choosing a college, often placed higher than academic quality.

SAFETY IS, MORE THAN EVER, A TOP CONCERN FOR STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS WHEN DECIDING ON WHICH COLLEGE TO ATTEND.

Mechanical Locks vs. Audit Trails

Many institutions, however, still use mechanical locks and keys to access primary buildings such as residence halls. While mechanical key systems are an economical option, there are many deficiencies with that form of access including the management of thousands of keys – and the lack of an audit trail. A step up from a lock and key system is access readers with offline control which are usually updated only when information needs to be retrieved. However, this can be problematic for colleges and universities that must comply with the Clery Act and Title IX, specifically regarding residence hall incidents. Without an audit trail, there is no way to know when there are forced entries or evidence of other events that occur.

The Clery Act, Title IX, and Credential Management

The Clery Act pertains to any U.S. higher education institution that participates in any of the federal financial assistance programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and requires these campuses to provide transparency for crimes that occur on or around their property. Part of the transparency of the Clery Act requires higher education institutions to publish an Annual Security Report (ASR) that contains crime statistics for a wide variety of safety and security-related issues. The Clery Act is important for informing prospective and current students and employees of the safety and security issues on campus. To have the most accurate ASR, an up-to-date credential management system is recommended to ensure real-time data is properly recorded. With an advanced credential management system, campus security has access to more information, resulting in more data to assist in the solving of crimes.

Title IX states that all students are entitled to equal access to education regardless of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual harassment and sexual violence both fall under gender discrimination outlined in Title IX, and with widespread prevalence of sexual assault on campuses, proper campus safety measures must be prepared and in place. It is vital for higher education institutions to secure their campuses and know who is accessing various buildings on campus, including residence halls. Mechanical lock and key systems or even offline controls are not able to provide as much information as an updated credential management system. Without a current system, additional evidence for a reported sexual assault case cannot be obtained.

College campuses have anywhere from 900 – 90,000 students on their grounds and, therefore, understanding that the credential is a main component for safety is paramount. So, before deciding to update or install a new security system, the selection process should be thoroughly and systematically considered. Due to the complexity of a comprehensive security system; its various components, different functionalities, and the numerous campus departments involved in the strategy and set-up, it is the goal for a seamless experience to take place. To do so, there are certain steps that can be taken as noted below.

Campus Steering Committee + Timing

A steering committee that represents and reflects all relevant campus departments ensures that everyone can take part in the discussions and formation of the security standards. It needs to be decided who will be in charge and oversee the security system once the project is complete, as well as which department or individuals will be responsible for reviewing security footage, as needed. This steering committee should regularly assess whether the security standards are being upheld and producing necessary results. Timing of the installation or upgrade needs to be accessed with regard to not disrupting the student body if school is in session. In that case, consider any work be done during a school break for easier access and undisrupted movement throughout the buildings.

IT IS VITAL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS TO SECURE THEIR CAMPUSES AND KNOW WHO IS ACCESSING VARIOUS BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS, INCLUDING RESIDENCE HALLS.

When The University of Kentucky wanted to update its access control system, they worked with STANLEY Security to find the best solution. Even before meeting with the university, STANLEY Security’s Software Solutions Group worked on database engineering for two months, including writing a custom script to automate student onboarding. Together, the combined team migrated the devices, including more than 4,000 wireless locks and 2,000 hard-wired card readers. STANLEY Security also provided an account manager to work with the school to ensure that the implementation of the new access control system would go as smoothly as possible. In a large-scale higher education environment like the University of Kentucky, ongoing support is the key to success; and ensuring that a security technician is onsite at all times guarantees the security operation runs properly.

exterior of college campus building

Campus Steering Committee + Timing

A steering committee that represents and reflects all relevant campus departments ensures that everyone can take part in the discussions and formation of the security standards. It needs to be decided who will be in charge and oversee the security system once the project is complete, as well as which department or individuals will be responsible for reviewing security footage, as needed. This steering committee should regularly assess whether the security standards are being upheld and producing necessary results. Timing of the installation or upgrade needs to be accessed with regard to not disrupting the student body if school is in session. In that case, consider any work be done during a school break for easier access and undisrupted movement throughout the buildings.

IT IS VITAL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS TO SECURE THEIR CAMPUSES AND KNOW WHO IS ACCESSING VARIOUS BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS, INCLUDING RESIDENCE HALLS.

When The University of Kentucky wanted to update its access control system, they worked with STANLEY Security to find the best solution. Even before meeting with the university, STANLEY Security’s Software Solutions Group worked on database engineering for two months, including writing a custom script to automate student onboarding. Together, the combined team migrated the devices, including more than 4,000 wireless locks and 2,000 hard-wired card readers. STANLEY Security also provided an account manager to work with the school to ensure that the implementation of the new access control system would go as smoothly as possible. In a large-scale higher education environment like the University of Kentucky, ongoing support is the key to success; and ensuring that a security technician is onsite at all times guarantees the security operation runs properly.

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