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Access control systems – making students safe

Students preparing to move into university accommodation will no doubt worry for their safety – or at least their parents and teachers will – and news circulating the internet has given them good reason to. A video that went viral last year recorded students at Nottingham Trent University chanting racist comments in front of the door of another student in their university accommodation (halls). Rufaro Chisango shared her short video to Twitter, which instantly caught the attention of users across the planet. Thankfully, with the advancements in technology and the implementation of access control systems in university halls, Rufaro was physically safe from any threat. But now, expectations must be higher to ensure that this type of behaviour, or risk, does not happen again.

What are access control systems and are they necessary in 2019?

When it comes to implementing access control systems on a site, there are two main functionalities used. The first has a more basic yet effective approach and has the ability to enable or prevent someone from entering or exiting a location — this could range from the whole site, a wing of a building, or a singular room that needs protecting from unauthorised personnel.   

When looking at the second option, this allows security managers to track any movement around a specific location — which can be beneficial when it comes to audits and discovering how compliant users are with the systems.  It can also detect any areas where improvements could be necessary.

For people to gain access to a locked-down area, they must have valid credentials; this is no different for university campuses. The purpose of having such security measures in place is to help protect students from unauthorised access, which could potentially threaten their wellbeing or put their possessions at risk.

No student should feel unsafe in their own home but it was found that 52% of students have noisy housemates, 37% of housemates steal food, 8% live in dangerous living conditions and 6% have experienced a break-in or a burglary. Access control systems – a worried student

With data from a survey carried out by Save The Student suggesting that the average cost of renting is £131 per week, students are left with little to live on after deducting the payment from their maintenance loan. Yet one in three people feel like their accommodation is not worth the cost. As a result, there is a demand for larger investments into deprived areas — accommodation providers are under pressure to make changes, or encounter detrimental damages that will impact them in the long-run.

Implementing access control systems and why they are needed

Access control systems have become an integral part of British university campuses, as well as accommodation facilities. Evidently, from the story above discussing the racist chants, it has become critical to ensure the safety and protection of young people as unsolicited actions can be carried out without any prior detection.

To improve safety, providers are giving students greater choice on their flats; students can decide whether to be in a loud or quiet building, with non-mixed or mixed gender housemates and can even specify the age range of the people they’d like to live with. 

Key benefits of access control systems:

Opposed to regular keys which can be copied, key cards are unique and can be deactivated when lost or when a student leaves their accommodation contract. This removes the risk of any unauthorised entry and heightens the safety of the new tenant after the previous lease is up.

Those trying to get into a locked-down area will need the required credentials, so if they have no card, they won’t gain entry. As they require the swipe of a unique key card for entry permissions which are given only to students, this will make it difficult for anyone other those who are enrolled as residents to enter.

Security teams can properly manage each location in real time. Using access control systems and key cards, this can all be documented and easily accessed when needed.

Cards can have customised permissions, for example, certain credentials may only be able to gain access between specific times of the day. This is particularly useful when it comes to accommodation employees such as cleaners, as their key cards can be matched with their shift patterns.

Students, in particular, are avid users of smartphones and now, locked areas can be accessed through the use of such device as credentials are able to be stored safely; this is an extremely important new feature as smartphones are very rarely out of the hands of young people.

You can’t put a price on safety, and university accommodation providers are now realising it by installing access control systems.


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