campus security

Campus Security And The Role of Access Control

It’s probably fair to say that most people who go to university have the time of their lives.  That’s not to say though that it’s something that isn’t without its dangers – as evidenced by a video last year of racist chanting recorded by students at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University.

The viral video highlighted the negative, and potentially dangerous, side of residing in  university accommodation. Thankfully, with the advancements in technology and the implementation of access control systems in university halls, the student (Rufaro Chisango) was physically safe from any threat. But now, expectations must be higher to ensure that this type of behaviour, or risk, does not happen again.

Could student safety and protection be greatly enhanced by the introduction of increased security mechanisms like, for example, access control systems?

Taking a closer look at access control

Essentially, an access control system offers two big benefits when it comes to security.  The first has a more basic yet effective approach and can enable or prevent someone from entering or exiting a location — this could range from the whole site, a wing of a building, or a singular room that needs protecting from unauthorised personnel.

The second benefit is that location movements can be tracked while a compliance audit can be completed.  It can also detect any areas where improvements could be necessary.

In addition to key cards, ID tags can also be incorporated into the access to a university hall of residence.  The purpose of having such security measures in place is to help protect students from unauthorised access, which could potentially threaten their wellbeing or put their possessions at risk.

With universities becoming ever-increasingly like businesses, and with the cost of entering university at an all-time high, the expectations are that student living standards and safety are paramount, especially with students – initially – having to live with strangers. According to a survey carried out by Save The Student, the average cost of renting is £131 per week, which leaves students with £8 to live on after deducting the payment from their maintenance loan.

Although university culture does play a large part on student life, excessive and unordinary behaviour is not acceptable. It was found that 52% of students have noisy housemates, 37% of housemates steal food (considered as theft), 8% have dangerous living conditions, and an astonishing 6% have experienced a break in or a burglary.

These stats highlight that there are many students who don’t view their accommodation as value for money.  Now, there is a demand for larger investments into suffering areas — accommodation providers are under extreme amounts of pressure to make changes otherwise they could encounter detrimental damages that will impact them in the long run.

Access control – the benefits explained

There are many potential benefits to having a campus access control system.  Evidently from the story above discussing the racist chants, it has become critical to ensure the safety and protection of young people as unsolicited actions can be carried out without any prior detection.

It’s true that some universities offer students the opportunity to choose their new living quarters with factors like gender, age and drinking preferences taken into consideration.  However, there are still many faults. Universities should be looking at implementing more personal options that enable young people to properly filter down the type of roommates they are looking for — such as language, religion, race, and more to create a safer and more familiar environment for all.

Access Limitation — an access control system means only eligible students can access the premises. As they require the swipe of a unique key card for entry permissions which are given only to students, this will make it difficult for anyone other those who are enrolled as residents to enter.

Advanced Credentials — smart phones are now a part of daily life for students.  Locked areas can now be accessed via security info/credentials stored safely on a phone.

The neutralisation of old Key Cards —university accommodation keys – unlike regular keys – cannot be copied.  Once a student has left, each card can be deactivated. This removes the risk of any unauthorised entry and heightens the safety of the new tenant after the previous lease is up.

It’s clear that university accommodation should have enhanced security.  This is even more pertinent if it can be used in a lockdown process that helps reduce the obvious risks that come with fast-moving incidents (i.e. firearm attacks).

Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications.

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learned his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky.

He has now developed as a top sports, music and current affairs journalist and has been printed in a range of publications including The Guardian. His interests include Cricket, Football, Rugby, Music and Current Affairs.

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