With the number of security breach incidences happening every other day, the importance of being safe and in a secure environment cannot be stressed enough. Locks and keys are no longer sufficient in controlling access to premises by unwanted visitors. Controlling access at schools is paramount and has become a necessity as it is the first line of defence should there be a security breach. Examples of unauthorised/unwanted access in schools include; non-custodial parents or guardians, hostage and shooting situations, predators and even unauthorised guests within the halls of residence. All these incidences, as well as other potentially dangerous incidents, can be prevented by installing access control systems.
An access control system enables premises; schools included to restrict, control and monitor the movement of persons, vehicles, and assets within, without and around a perimeter. With numerous applications for access control systems, both people and assets are protected from possible threat as it makes them less of a barrier.
Benefits of Access Control Systems in Schools
Ensuring identity: One of the very first benefits that schools enjoy by installing access control systems is that they can verify the identity of both students and staff. The different forms of access control systems such as biometrics ensure that the individual gaining access to the school premise is authorized to do so. Unauthorized individuals are disallowed access with certainty, and an alarm can be sounded under such circumstances.
- Advance warning: Some of the access systems available in the market today are equipped with alarm/cautionary systems that give off a warning should a security breach occur. Different incidents warrant different responses, so depending on the level of a security breach, individuals, as well as the school management, can know what measures are necessary for the different situations thus reducing the likelihood of chaos. Basically, the systems work to facilitate top tier emergency response. If a circumstance warrants that there is an immediate lockdown of the school’s premise, then the access control systems make this possible through the push of a single button. This instantly makes the school premise secure without any additional risks.
- Secure sensitive information: control access systems are not limited to entry at the school’s door. They can also be used to ensure that sensitive information such as examination reports, student/ teacher records as well as any other sensitive information are kept secure and only available to individuals with the correct clearance level.
- Gathering of evidence: Numerous incidences such as bullying, vandalism, theft and many more occur on the school premises. Access control systems are a great way through which the school can monitor activities on the school’s premise and acquire evidence of certain occurrences. The evidence collected helps in conflict resolution as it provides a full unbiased picture on the occurrence of events. The existence of access control systems at a school can eventually help deter the occurrence of misdemeanours by either the staff or the students.
- Multi-building management: most school premises are usually large with multiple buildings. Access control systems facilitate the management of all the buildings from a central location. Having the access control systems means that you can easily manage access to building A from building D which is across from it or in an entirely different location. The central location access not only reduces the response time, but it also saves on money as not many staff would be required onsite to deal with a situation. Access control systems can be integrated into other systems such as heating/cooling systems and even lighting systems. This is a powerful and multifaceted solution to managing the building land; it is also beneficial as it helps to save on money, time and energy.
- It becomes easier and quicker to zero in on an issue. Access control systems reduce the amount of time that is required to locate an issue. Advances in technology have allowed for access control systems to do more than just sound an alarm as they can now locate the exact point from which the issue is coming from. Great access control systems have a dynamic mapping feature shows the location/position of all the locks and doors in the systems and shows them on a map that is easy to comprehend and follow. Dynamic mapping makes it easy to respond as it shows you what/where the concern is.
- Access control systems offer efficiency. By eliminating the need and use of keys, access control systems allow for efficiency as the same keycard/code can be used to access different doors/locks. Keys are not only cumbersome, but they are also easy to lose. However, with an access control system, access can be tailored and streamlined based on different factors such as the individual’s capacity/permissions.
In a school’s premise, access control systems mean more than electronic devices that allow/deny entry into the premise or even ones that can detect and resist attacks before they happen. It means making sure that the entire perimeter of the school is secure. Aside from the systems, access control policies can and should be implemented to work in conjunction with the access control systems. Access control policies set a tone for all other security efforts. Some of the policies that can be considered include, limiting access points on the school premise, having well-defined entry and exit points, constant collection and analysis of data collected from the access control systems, having proper visibility of all access point and distinctly marking perimeters. Schools seeking to install access control systems should use the access control policies such as the ones previously mentioned to guide them on the type of access control system that they require. In schools where the human traffic is high, anti-passback systems are perfect for restricting access if an individual has entered the premise and is yet to leave as their card or code cannot be used for re-entry.
It is also important that schools and their respective managements are conscious of the possibility that access control systems could experience failure just like any other systems. Being conscious of these facts helps them to plan accordingly should an internal or external system failure such as dead control panels or hacking takes place.