11/30/2020 • Security, Intrusion Detection, Perimeter Protection

SMARTair

Solving key challenges in education sector security

London, November 2020 – Every place of education owes a duty of care to its users. This raises the stakes for security. Add the valuable equipment and personal data held on-site and this becomes one of schools’ and universities’ biggest challenges. Choosing the right access control solution is critical.

Filtering access into and through any education institution is a formidable task. Diverse user groups have contrasting needs: senior management teams vs. cleaners, or IT staff vs. students. Indoor and outdoor spaces may require totally different levels of security. Visitors should experience a controlled, curated flow through the site. Staff need timely access to teaching rooms. Student access to the library or IT suite must be monitored. All this must be achieved while maintaining exactly the right degree of openness and welcome.

Budgeting is an ever-present challenge. Although a familiar technology, physical keys require security management which can be time-consuming and labour-intensive. Physical key admin puts added pressure on busy staff when someone loses a key, for example. Locks need changing; keys recut and reissued — and this costs money. With an electronic access system instead of traditional lock-and-key security, a few clicks in the management software cancels and reissues all relevant credentials, with almost no extra cost added. It saves facility managers’ valuable time and the organization’s money.

Wireless locking is fast and cost-effective to install, because it requires no invasive drilling. It’s also cheaper to run as, unliked wired locks, wireless door devices are powered by batteries and use very little energy. Education institutions all over the world have already found success by switching from mechanical to wireless electronic access control, in both cost and time savings, and by addressing challenges specific to their sector and situation.

Schools: time-saving access control without a specialist security team

Small establishments such as local schools do not have the budget or need for an in-house security expert. Yet their security challenges match any faced by large institutions. An access control technology suited to schools must be intuitive to operate — both hardware and software.

Maintenance presents another problem: in-house staff are unlikely to have the expertise, yet contracting a specialist is expensive. At Vejle Friskole in Denmark, managing security based on physical keys had been eating up “a very long time, approximately 5 hours a week,” explains Henrik Kækel, the school’s Technical Service Officer.

Vejle Friskole’s mechanical keys have since been replaced by an access control system; around 80 doors and cabinets are secured with SMARTair wireless locks. Approximately 250 students and teachers carry their own fob, programmed with individual access permissions. Locking devices fit many different types of opening, so everyone at the Friskole opens doors and cabinets with a single fob. There’s no need for separate locker keys, for example.

Wireless devices secure offices and classrooms, and are robust enough to handle high traffic at the main entrance door. Everything is managed efficiently with the SMARTair software.

"It was really bad [before] because we had big problems with keys that were lost,” adds Henrik Kækel. “There was a lot of work in key administration.” Today, Vejle Friskole staff spend around 5 minutes a week managing their access system. They also have the option to extend their access control system whenever they want to gain even more granular control over school buildings. Fast to install, SMARTair locking devices are an ideal, cost-effective retrofit solution for the education sector.

Universities: attracting international students with modern security

Prospective students weigh up campus safety when choosing a university*. This may be especially true in the lucrative, competitive market for international students — for whom anxious parents needing reassurance are also key decision-makers**.

Students enjoy tech-based solutions to everyday problems — security and access control included. In Mexico, Arkansas State University Campus Querétaro (ASUCQ) uses a mobile solution instead of keys or key-cards to unlock doors. The smartphone communicates with lock readers via standard mobile protocols, exactly as an access card would. There is no difference in the locking hardware, only the credential.

With a SMARTair Openow mobile system, staff and students keep “virtual “keys” inside an app. Campus managers can amend every virtual key’s access rights whenever they want, in real time if necessary: ASUCQ’s system is online.

A smartphone-based solution is perfect for a user-group — students — who lose credentials with ease. “It’s much easier to lose a card than a mobile phone,” says José Alfonso Suárez, ASUCQ’s Head of Operations***. On-device password and fingerprint ID add another layer of credential protection. Such modern security doubles as a marketing tool, signaling the university’s commitment to student safety: it has an ROI beyond keeping the campus safe.

Student accommodation: an easy solution to the lost key problem

Keys are easy to lose. Students can be prone to misplacing things. It’s a tough combination for anyone running student accommodation.

For new premises in Rennes, France, specialist provider Easy Student sought reliable, key-free locking. They wanted the residence to run efficiently — “like a hotel” — and without the workload of physical keys. Switching to wireless electronic locking managed via simple software is a huge time-saver for these student halls.

Easy Student also chose SMARTair access control****. “SMARTair does not require any technical knowledge. I trained quickly and found the software very easy,” says Cyril Verger, Managing Director at Easy Student Rennes. “The solution really simplified my life.”

If someone loses a credential, the software interface makes cancelling it fast and easy — a major change from the old days of mechanical locks and key organization charts. “A lost key can still be used,” M. Verger adds. “A lost credential can be cancelled easily.”

Every Easy Student credential is programmed to open multiple doors: the student’s own room, the main door and bike park around the clock; plus the common area and laundry room between 6.30am and 11.30pm only.

“Our students are very happy with the solution,” he adds. “They got used to it quickly, because this type of access control is found in lots of hotels and private homes.”

To learn more about the benefits of SMARTair wireless electronic access control, download a free Solution Guide at: https://campaigns.assaabloyopeningsolutions.eu/smartair

*: www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/student-advice/where-to-study/crime-rates-in-university-cities-and-towns

**: see https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1180979

***: https://youtu.be/l-M7SMUEd9E

****: watch the video case study at https://youtu.be/nTHdpH2haQo

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