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Access Control Challenges In College Dorms: What You Need To Know

Access Control Challenges in College Dorms: What You Need to Know

On the night of January 15, 1978, serial killer Ted Bundy broke the lock on the backdoor of Chi Omega sorority house. More than 40 years later, the gruesome events that followed are still being discussed in news, movies, and documentaries.

In colleges and universities, student, faculty, and staff security is a primary concern. According to Campus Safety and Security Data, there was a combined total of 62,787 burglaries, robberies, and vehicle theft across US college dorms between 2012 and 2014.

Because of this, schools need to make sure that everyone is safe from harm while inside classrooms, walking down hallways, or going from one building to another. Additionally, campus security should extend to student housing.

But college campuses are almost always sprawling across acres of land. People come and go all the time, especially in college dormitories. This makes it more challenging to keep dormitories and other forms of student housing safe. The solution lies in access control systems for college dorms.

Understanding Access Control

Basically, access control means keeping the right people in and the wrong ones out. It’s a security technique that helps restrict access to an environment or facility. By using a set of specific credentials, like fingerprint scans or keycards, to be granted access, people in a building can ensure that only those who are allowed inside can get in.

The presence of an access control system is even more useful in college campuses, especially in residence halls. Places like these are where students might be at their most vulnerable. At the very least, their belongings are stored in their rooms and, if an unauthorized person gets access to their rooms or buildings, theft and more heinous crimes may follow.

But while an access control system is an excellent choice for student housing security, housing managers and operators may still face a few challenges while operating and maintaining their system. They must be prepared for the following challenges, so they can effectively run their access control systems.

The use of old school security system

Many college dormitories still use old school physical lock-and-key systems. The problem with this is that keys are easily lost and locks are easily picked or broken, as was the case in the Chi Omega house. This type of security system also isn’t practical because there may be a number of doors inside the students’ residence, meaning a student has to carry different keys.

Digitizing access control systems, meanwhile, is more economical. Most systems like this use keycards and biometrics. While keycards can be lost, too, its access to a dorm building can be remotely cancelled or suspended right away. Plus, if a student loses their card or if it gets stolen, there’s no need to replace the door locks for fear of someone else finding the card and using it for entry, which you would have to do with keys.

The use of biometric locks adds another level of security because the system is almost foolproof. Because these locks use fingerprints, access to certain rooms and the dorm building itself is limited only to those with pre-approved biometrics. There’s no risk of losing a key or having it stolen and there’s no need to manually lock a door each time you pass through. For places with high-traffic entrances like college dorms, this security system is the most ideal.

High student turnover

Many colleges and universities require their students, especially the freshmen, to stay at residence halls inside the campus. When their sophomore or junior year rolls around, though, students have more housing options. They can move into their own apartment outside the campus, live in sorority houses, or stay in the dorms.

No matter a student’s choice, this just means that dorm residents come and go every semester. The high turnover rate means it can be hard for student housing property managers to keep up on who still has access to their building and who no longer should have or no longer has.

With an access control system in place, more specifically, one that’s digitized, you don’t have to worry about collecting keys from students. You can simply turn off their access.

Not knowing who’s entering and leaving the building

Another access control problem that’s common in college dormitories is not knowing who’s coming and going. Regular keys can be wielded by anyone, so it’s a security risk. If a key gets lost or stolen, there’s no way of tracing its whereabouts or if it’s being used by someone else to come and go.

However, the use of keycards or biometrics to open doors leaves a digital record of a person’s entry into the building, what time they entered, and even their point of entry. If something goes wrong inside, like theft, it’s easier to weed out the more probable suspects because the records will show who was inside the building at that time.

This is also the reason access control systems are a perfect companion to surveillance systems or CCTV. Building managers can be notified when there’s been unauthorized access or emergency and they can use the CCTV system to ascertain more details.

Unrestricted access to any part of the building

One of the biggest issues with building safety is the ability to limit access to parts of the building for certain periods of time. In most cases, student residents have access to the dorm building at any time of the day. This is even truer if the building utilizes a lock and key system. If a building manager wants to bar student residents from a specific area, they’d have to install a separate locking mechanism to do so.

With a proper access control system, however, you can set specific time restrictions on your residents’ access to parts of the building. This allows you to grant access to specific areas only to the people who need it and only at the time they need it.

This feature of a good access control system is also beneficial for dormitories that set curfews. Because residents can only enter and exit until a specific time, they’re more likely to be back before they’re not allowed in.

Access control is a priority not just in college campuses, but also in businesses, apartment complexes, and even parking lots. Thankfully, technology has made the creation and installation of access control systems possible. With these systems, building managers do not need to worry about lost keys or lock replacements. By controlling who has access to a facility and who doesn’t, security is made easier and more efficient.

To get the best access control system, contact TED Systems. Since 1999, the company has been a trusted provider of electronic security solutions for Kansas City businesses, schools, and other facilities.

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