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Wireless access control on university campuses

Understanding wireless access basics and the value of a keyless campus experience

Before, this required students to carry a mechanical key, but wireless allows students to use their campus ID card, or in some cases their mobile device. Students can use the same credential for access, financial transactions and more. Eventually, students will be able to manage everything from their mobile device — something we’ve seen universities already begin to adopt.

Important considerations for wireless access control on university campuses

Before your campus is ready to move to wireless hardware — or expand wireless to additional doors — there’s some homework to be done. What is the current door access system in place on campus, and will it support the transition to wireless? Are there compatibility concerns that need to be addressed?

There’s quite a bit of interdependence between reader, locksets and the card technology on campus. In addition to selecting wireless hardware that fits into your credential ecosystem, make sure you select a solution that keeps your options open to various manufacturers’ hardware and avoids the proprietary “trap” game.

The next thing to think about is the functionality of each opening and the best connectivity option for each. Universities need to decide between real-time vs. intermittent offline connectivity. Selecting one over the other is a choice driven by the type of application and the goals of your campus. Are there frequent access and schedule changes to the door? Is there a need to have instant remote lockdown or unlocking capabilities at these doors? Is there a need for frequent feedback at the doors, like student wellness checks?

Starting the evaluation process

Once your campus is ready to implement a solution, ensure there is campus-wide support. Find a group of supporters that can help you champion this solution across campus. The decision to deploy wireless access control on university campuses doesn’t fall to just one group; there needs to be buy-in from multiple departments on campus. Collaborate with housing and residential life, facilities, security, IT, finance and other stakeholders. For example, facilities might have concerns about maintenance of these devices, and IT will want to know how the deployment of these devices will impact their networks. Understand their concerns and build a consensus with the entire campus team.

Next, evaluate available wireless solutions that meet the group’s security needs. Leverage your e-hardware, one-card and door access partners who are members of and participate in the National Association of Campus Card Users (NACCU). Reach out to them for their expertise. They will be able to answer questions and propose solutions tailored to your campus. Connect with your peer institutions about their experiences with certain solutions and take in their suggestions about deployment.

When it comes to securing higher education facilities, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The needs of each opening must be considered in addition to the campus-wide experience a school hopes to achieve.

Consider a pilot program before jumping into the deep end of the pool. Working with a sales representative, schools often are able to start with 10-50 wireless locks in a single building. This allows the staff and students to interact with the solution and evaluate if it’s the right fit to improve security, convenience and efficiency on campus. If it is a good fit, determine deployment for the rest of campus — remember, it’s fine to start small and grow.

Summary

When it comes to securing higher education facilities, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The needs of each opening must be considered in addition to the campus-wide experience a school hopes to achieve.

Seek out the advice of industry experts at your disposal. They can guide you through best practices and help achieve a customized security solution using wireless that will benefit all.

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