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Learning to Do More With Less: Adapting Campus Security for Lean Times

Source: Tevin Wang | Date: 01/31/2012

Related tags: access control, campus safety, physical security

In this third and final article, a&s analyzes what value-added vendors and integrators can bring to higher education, how to do more with less and the outlook for campus security.

In the education market, security funding is limited. “The biggest challenge is the education market does not always have full control over its own funding,” said John Moss, CEO of S2 Security. “Forces are unpredictable as politics may enter into security buying decisions.” “In North America, the security market is very much tied to the construction market. This year in higher education in North America, construction slowed down considerably due to the economic situation, as well as the political landscape,” said Barbara Winkler-Chimbor, Director of Global Education Market Development, Genetec. “There are no longer federal grants related to security in the U.S. like in the past. In the U.S. as well as Canada, the education market depends heavily on local state or province funding.” Governments are experiencing significant budget shortfalls and are focusing funds on providing competitive teacher salaries instead of capital improvements for security.

For European and Asian institutions, their willingness to spend money on student safety is reactive. “Our experience shows that student safety or security projects are only funded when incidents occur,” Winkler- Chimbor said. “No funding is truly applied for security.”

With challenged funding and resources, it is even more essential for manufacturers and system integrators to address the unique requirements of each school. “It is important to be flexible and robust to adapt to these different requirements,” said Terence Lee, Director of APAC System Integration, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. As financial realities limit the uptake of networked security in education market, it is crucial for venders and integrators to share best practices about how to balance an open learning environment and safety, so administrators can do more with less.

Do More With Less
Making the most out of existing IT infrastructure offers an efficient deployment. IP-based systems provide cost advantages without having to factor in wiring. “Educational facilities are often strained to find advanced technology while staying within budget,” said Steve Gorski, GM of the Americas, Mobotix.

Traditional, centralized structures have limitations since it requires high network bandwidth and the PC processing power is insufficient when using several cameras. The decentralized approach allows universities to gain access to the benefits of more resolution while maintaining cost effectiveness. “With the decentralized approach, the camera itself includes a processing computer and storage card, allowing PC to do the job of viewing video and camera control, thus putting less strain on PCs and reduces centralized storage needs,” Gorski said.

Maximizing Effectiveness
Campus safety is the fundamental reason for security systems. In a gloomy economy, vendors and integrators should consider what value their solution can add to colleges and universities beyond security. Some benefits of security can increase the effectiveness of existing security staff and improve resource management.

Remote monitoring allows a limited amount of personnel to cover a larger area while being more available. Security personnel can use the video captured by the system to determine what is happening before sending guards to the scene, thus multiplying the effective area the existing security force can patrol. “This allows universities to streamline their manpower operation and improve their process management,” Lee said. Integrated security solutions can translate to less data entry for staff members and less money spent on staff resources, meaning less dependence on physical guarding.

“Remote access to video also benefits other departments in a college or university, such as the maintenance department,” said Gadi Piran, President of On-Net Surveillance Systems. “Web-based access to cameras from any desktop can contribute to additional operational efficiencies campus-wide. Such opportunities should be considered when a system is designed — they can also boost a system's ROI.”

Security solutions also provide data to help staff make decisions. “Security solutions can be used for staff members to track traffic patterns,heavily used rooms or buildings on campus and more,” said Randy Montelius, VP of Engineering, Communications Engineering Company. In addition to keeping students and staff safe, cameras can help administrators undersatnd facility usage. Video can manage the flow of students, analyze bottlenecks that form between classes or view vehicle traffic flow.

“Video can track facility occupancy, especially during the weekend or off-hours,” Piran said. “Integrated with the HVAC system, video could help save energy costs, for example, by automatically turning up the air conditioner only when room occupancy reaches a certain number.”

Open Sesame
Colleges are seeking new ways to keep their buildings safe without breaking the bank. Issuing one smart credential also saves administrative costs. The cost of a single credential is lower than purchasing multiple forms of identification. The rollout of smart credential solutions for physical access control is typically done with card management systems that involve card issuance, personalization and access rights, simplifying management processes and distribution time. Smart card technology also helps enhance management efficiency.

For instance, by introducing smart credential-based authentication, a campus can immediately reduce the number of staff members needed to manage and control access to residence halls, recreation centers, laboratories and other buildings that only authorized students and staff should enter.

Maximizing the extent to which a credential can be utilized for campus living and activities is becoming more common. “Smart card technology offers universities multi-application functionality for logical access, cashless vending, canteen transactions, on-demand printing, library access and locker use, these applications enable the wider community controlled access to public services such as its buses, museum and swimming pools too,” said Simon Siew, MD for APAC, HID Global (an Assa Abloy company).

Transportation management is another common challenge that smart cards can address. “We have a case in Spain of school transportation solution that integrated GPS, text messaging and database capabilities,” Siew said. “All cards are personalized by the university and can be reprogrammed when the amount of transportation purchased expires. The university is considering opportunities for time and attendance and other future applications to be deployed using the same smart card technology.”

With limited resources and funding, selecting the right technology and laying the groundwork for deployment are the keys to make every penny count. Campus decision makers should look for platforms that are open to allow easy integration into other applications with minimal programming. An open access platform speeds up the time of deployment, reduces the cost of implementation and allows campus officials to get the most out of their investment.

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