For most prospective college students, moving away to study on-campus represents a first real opportunity to experience independent living, with many young adults offered more freedom over their daily schedules and routines than they would have been given under the care of parents or guardians.
Of course, this new-found freedom is well-spent developing the time management, personal care and financial planning skills students will require if they’re to succeed later in life. Though for young people who have never lived away from home, some may be a little naïve to the dangers of the adult world.
Despite colleges and higher education facilities generally being safe spaces for students, just as in any public area, instances of theft and physical crime can occur. It’s up to educators and security staff to support young adults by developing smart resources and trusted systems capable of promoting personal security, primarily by providing students with a number of reliable ways to respond to potential dangers.
For school administrators and security professionals looking to strengthen their college’s general security posture, here are a few intelligent ways to promote personal security in higher education facilities.
Install app-based access control
One of the biggest security issues for most US colleges concerns instances of theft, burglary and other related property crimes, with students often required to keep track of multiple sets of keys, fobs and similar physical credentials that can easily become lost, stolen or simply misplaced on-campus.
If these traditional forms of access control are to fall into the wrong hands, students run the risk of their personal property being burglarized, with few preventative actions they can take beyond the time-consuming and potentially costly process of replacing locks or re-issuing keycard credentials.
By instead choosing to operate an app-based access control system, multiple sets of personalized credentials can be safely stored in each student’s smartphone and secured behind the multi-factor authentication protections already present in modern smart devices, removing the risks associated with lost or stolen physical keys and allowing security staff to remotely revoke compromised credentials.
Design intelligent lockdown functions
To successfully implement a campus-wide app-based access control system, college security staff will be required to develop a cloud-based management platform capable of communicating wirelessly with installed access readers, allowing students to transmit credential data to access on-site facilities.
The benefits of operating such a system, however, are not limited to credential security. In a cloud-based system, all installed security hardware capable of wireless communications (like IP and IoT-enabled devices) can be connected and controlled from a single accessible management platform.
This means school safety door locks, on-site alarms and app-based notifications can all be configured to automatically activate in response to reported threats, allowing for a system in which students are permitted to alert security teams to the presence of potentially harmful incidents, who can then:
- Investigate the claim by accessing live video security feeds
- Choose to engage wider security devices to lockdown specific areas
- Notify on-campus students of the incident via cell phone notifications
Provide secure student safe zones
In most cases, it isn’t practical or even possible to completely prevent unauthorized persons from entering educational facilities. Schools and colleges must have systems in place designed to permit access to guests, visitors, parents and contractors who require temporary access to certain facilities.
Alongside a carefully considered visitor management system capable of providing these individuals with relevant access credentials, administrators and security staff should ensure that private student spaces like communal recreation rooms, halls of residence, study areas and safe zones are secured.
A wise way to achieve this is via multi-factor authentication. For example, to gain access to private spaces, students are required to present their credentials to installed readers, they will then be sent a one-time code to a registered smartphone or email address to be entered before access is granted.
Develop an incident reporting system
Though it’s important for college students to develop personal safety skills during their time in higher education, there will be times in which it becomes necessary for professional security personnel or faculty members to provide dedicated support and assistance, mainly in response to physical threats.
It’s not uncommon for students to be fearful or anxious with regards to reporting crimes like assault or theft, so it’s essential that faculty members and security staff develop confidential crime reporting tools designed to allow students to report serious events in their own time and in a safe environment.
A confidential and secure crime reporting service can be integrated alongside existing cloud-based security management tools and made accessible via each student’s app-based access control account, allowing students to contact faculty members discreetly at any time to report sensitive issues.
Finding a reasonable balance between personal security and professional support in higher education facilities can sometimes be a complicated and multi-faceted task. Though with the operation of smart technology security systems, school administrators and security teams can improve their responses.
By providing students with more control over the way they access on-site facilities, staff can dedicate more of their time to addressing any serious incidents that may occur, and by allowing students to report such events reliably and confidentially security teams can be better prepared to respond appropriately.