February 24, 2016
Last week we discussed 5 Essential Applications to consider for Primary Schools. However, access control offers endless other benefits that are often underrated or not even thought of. Therefore, we decided to outline eight additional access control applications that will help you to create safe and secure environment in schools.
1) Automatic Unlocking of Doors During Breaks and Lunch
To prevent intruders, it is important that the number of doors that can be opened from the outside is kept to a minimum. One of the options is fitting electronic locks to doors that lead to playgrounds and outside sports facilities, with proximity card readers for entry and push-buttons for exit. This will prevent intruders from entering the premises through these doors while the children are in lessons without affecting their use for emergency evacuations. Teaching staff can use their pass cards to enter the premises during lessons.
Where doors need to be unlocked at certain times of day such as break times, lunch periods and between sports lessons, the access control system can be programmed to automatically unlock the doors at these times and lock them again during lessons, making life easier for the teaching staff.
Access Control management software, such as Norpass3, has special features that enable staff to be issued with special staff cards that can be used to ‘latch’ individual doors unlocked while a group of students need access through the door, and then relock the door afterwards. This avoids the need to use makeshift methods of wedging doors open, which may let in cold draughts and potentially cause a safety hazard.
2) Protecting Premises Outside of School Hours
Access control can be used to complement intruder alarms and CCTV for protecting premises from theft and vandalism outside of school hours. The access control system can monitor individual doors and provide ‘door forced’ alarm outputs. These can be used to raise remote alarms with specific details of the incident using methods such as text messaging and email alerts.
It can also provide event monitoring 24 hours a day, keeping records of all access attempts, both authorised and unauthorised.
3) Access Control for Outbuildings and Storage Cupboards
It is not always possible for a networked access control system to reach remote outbuildings without major civil works or wireless communications. In such cases, it may be more appropriate to install a simple standalone single-door system.
The system will work independently to protect the outbuilding by ensuring that only authorised card holders are allowed access.
If the main school premises are protected by an access control system, the same pass cards can be used for the standalone system, if necessary.
The same cost-effective solution can also be used for storage cupboards, where the cupboard door is fitted with a small magnetic locking system and compact standalone access controller fitted on the outside. The access card for each authorised member of staff can be quickly and easily ‘learnt’ into the standalone system as a valid card.
For a more secure option biometric readers can be used, for storage facilities containing valuable and expensive equipment, or other buildings that need added security measures.
4) Unlocking All Doors During an Emergency
Where many doors are fitted with access control, there is always a risk that unlocking doors using cards, push buttons or ‘break-glass’ door releases during an emergency will delay the evacuation process.
For this reason an Access Control Software, such as Norpass3 provides an ‘all doors unlocked’ input so that a fire alarm panel can unlock all doors when it raises an alarm. It allows the operator to control the method in which emergency actions are registered on the access control system, and the way in which doors are returned to their normal state after the emergency.
5) Roll Call and Muster to Account for Everyone During an Emergency or Fire Drill
Many access control systems offer a roll call feature where a muster report can be generated instantly during an emergency.
The report will produce a list of all card holders that are recorded as being within a certain building or area, giving the fire safety wardens a roll call against which to check that everyone has been safely evacuated from the building.
For this system to function effectively there must be a system in place whereby all staff members, pupils and visitors have pass cards, which they must present to the entry and exit readers as they enter and leave the building. Ideally, turnstiles should be fitted at the main entrance, but if this is not possible, strict discipline must be applied to the use of pass cards.
Another option is to place ‘muster’ readers at evacuation assembly points so that all evacuated personnel can register their presence, thereby allowing wardens to concentrate on those people on the roll call that have not registered their presence at the assembly point.
6) Risk Management – Supervision
Key areas where risk management is important include science laboratories, gymnasiums, athletic fields and even libraries.
Each has a significant potential for health and safety risks.
The need to manage this risk is even more important when facilities are made available for after-school use. Security in these facilities can be enhanced and risk can be reduced by controlling the access points and ensuring that supervision staff are always present.
Norpass3 provides a feature where designated hazardous areas can be monitored to ensure that the correct number of supervision staff are present when students are present. Staff and students must use valid pass cards to enter and leave the area. If the system detects that the number of supervision staff in attendance has fallen below a required minimum, an alarm can be raised to ensure that the problem is attended to immediately.
7) Facility Usage Monitoring
Facilities such as libraries and gymnasiums are often available for extracurricular activities, where it may be necessary to monitor or restrict the time that each user spends in particular areas.
Where the entrances and exits are fitted with access control, in addition to preventing unauthorised access, the access control system can be used to monitor and restrict how long each authorised card holder spends in each area.
Norpass3 includes an optional ‘Usage Monitor’ that can be configured to monitor the time each user spends in an area.
Where an allocated time limit has been exceeded for a particular card holder, access can be automatically disabled, with an option to automatically reset and re-enable cards to their original access status on a weekly or monthly basis.
8) Tracking Down Staff Members
A benefit of using a PC-based access control system is that it keeps a record of the use of access cards to enter each controlled area of the premises. The access control software can be configured to store a virtual plan of the premises so that the use of an access card to pass through a particular door is recorded, and the card holder is registered as being in the area that the door leads to.
If for example, there is an important call for that person and he/she needs to be found quickly, a few key presses on the access control PC will typically produce a window showing the last registered location of that card holder. Norpass3 also provides a record of all recent movements of the card holder.