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Security without sacrificing accessibility in universities

How do we provide the best security for our students, faculty, and employees and still allow them to move freely throughout campus? How can we strengthen physical security without sacrificing easy access to campus facilities, resources, and services?

By Nils Wahlander* 

The above are the questions that universities and higher education centers constantly ask themselves regarding the security of their facilities.

Due to the use of fraudulent ID cards outside establishments and the violence that increasingly prevails on campuses, there is an indisputable need to improve security without undermining the user experience. So where to start?

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As noted in a recent Ingram Micro Advisor1 article on developing a physical safety plan, "While safety on college campuses is a priority, it is also important that students (and faculty) feel safe and welcome at their institution. In particular, most universities have open, very easily accessible campuses and any security technology that is implemented should retain that spirit, rather than stifle it."

The good news is that the solution may not be as complex as it once was. Currently, the vast majority of student IDs employ barcode or magnetic stripe technology to allow access to student residences, classrooms, libraries, and on-campus food services. 

Using a proximity smart card with a built-in chip is more secure, as it is not easy to clone and, in itself, decreases the opportunity for unauthorized people to obtain information from the cards. 

One of the main advantages of using proximity smart card technology is the ease it gives students and faculty to access various campus facilities and services, just press the card against a reader. Because the information is specific to the cardholder, the cards can be configured to allow access to specific buildings, applications, or services.

Some educational institutions have also begun to implement mobile credentials. This technology takes advantage of the proliferation of smartphones, inserting credentials into students' mobile phones and then employing them to allow students access to facilities and payment systems on campus.

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If by now you or your institution are not ready to upgrade card technologies due to budget or resource constraints, there are several options available on the market for universities and higher education institutions, both of which are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement.  One of them is simply to add a visual security element (VSE) to the IDs, which allows for easy verification of student and employee credentials. 

These visual elements can be visible or hidden and include, but are not limited to, holographic laminates, micro texts, and fluorescent images. These types of items are a quick way to determine, when students and employees enter sporting or other events on campus, whether the card is authentic.

In addition to the use of student IDs, campus security can also be greatly improved with an effective visitor management system. This type of system allows the registration of entry and exit, as well as the tracking of all visitors to the campus thus improving the safety of students and employees without hindering accessibility.

Numerous security solutions can be employed to effectively protect the campus and its assets without preventing students and staff from enjoying the offerings the institution offers them.

*Nils Wahlander is Senior Marketing Manager for HID Products

Santiago Jaramillo
Author: Santiago Jaramillo
Comunicador social y periodista con más de 15 años de trayectoria en medios digitales e impresos, Santiago Jaramillo fue Editor de la revista "Ventas de Seguridad" entre 2013 y 2019.

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