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How colleges use security technologies to manage students and faculty

How colleges use security technologies to manage students and faculty
Security technologies like video surveillance, thermal imaging and contactless access control are not only helping keep universities safe and secure, but can also help in the fight against COVID-19.
Higher education institutions need security systems to help keep students and faculty safe and campuses secure. The coronavirus pandemic has created a whole new invisible threat to campus security officers, one that a good security systems can be adapted to help combat.

Smarter video surveillance systems

Angela Osborne Guidepost Solutions
Angela Osborne,
Regional Director,
Security & Technology Consulting,
Guidepost Solutions
Every college campus has a video surveillance system in place; however, how advanced these systems are can vary greatly. Today, universities can use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning to make video systems even more effective.

In the era of COVID-19, smart video systems can help campus security officers identify campus hotspots, monitor whether or not people are complying with social distancing guidelines, and even determine if people are wearing face masks.

Companies like IPVideo Corporation provide a temperature and mask detection solution to help campuses ensure compliance, validate that all students and faculty are wearing masks and confirm no one has an elevated temperature in line.

David Antar, President of IPVideo Corporation added that temperature and mask detection cameras can be integrated with access control. Students and faculty are scanned as they enter a facility and are only granted access if they do not have an elevated temperature and are wearing a mask.

Thermal imaging scanners

Thermal imaging technology has become an increasingly visible part of day-to-day life since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It has become a quick and easily deployable tool to conduct temperature checks en masse.

A number of schools have explored the use of thermal imaging devices in an attempt to identify people with heightened temperatures. Despite some inherent challenges, Angela Osborne, Regional Director of Security and Technology Consulting at Guidepost Solutions, explained these systems can be effective and provide for greater social distancing between the subject and the examinee. However, their implementation is exceedingly important as environmental effects (e.g., sunlight, reflective surfaces, air flows, etc.) can significantly hinder their accuracy.

Touchless access control prevents germ spread

Access control on college campuses has been undergoing a change for a while now. More and more universities are starting to explore touchless access control systems and are focusing more on mobile credentials.

Yet, there are several challenges to address. For one, many schools use student IDs not just for access control, but also as payment cards for university stores, cafeterias and library services.

Additionally, this transition would require a significant investment. The coronavirus pandemic may just be the push schools need, though. Osborne noted that a number of schools are looking at any security solutions that provides less physical contact. “These solutions have considerable viability in the post-COVID-19 world as we continue to move away from the use of access cards in place of leveraging mobile devices,” she added.

Universities are also leveraging access control logs to aid in contact tracing; although, success has varied. Osborne noted that this is due to the nature of access control: a record will normally indicate when students or staff members entered but not necessarily when they left the site or where in the building they went.

Evaluate new technologies

Coronavirus has lead to a lot of repurposing of existing technologies, as well as development of new ones. While we’re all eager to deploy any technologies that could help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is also necessary to consider privacy implications and critically evaluate the technology being proposed.

“Many of these systems provide the perception of safety without providing accurate readings,” Osborne warned. “In addition, some systems are being relabeled from other firms with serious cybersecurity concerns. It is easy for a procurement department or facilities team to purchase these devices unknowingly and perhaps without security’s knowledge.”

Paul Timm, VP of Facility Engineering Associates, recommends first testing new and emerging technologies and then introducing them gradually.

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