What is the most robust and cost-effective security solution for schools?

December 09, 2015

This is the question school boards and administrators continue to dwell on in the past few years. According to a BBC investigation a total of 30,394 crimes were reported and took place in school facilities in 2014, whilst in 2013 it was 28,444. According to this report issues included robbery and burglary, violent crime, and drug offences.

Therefore, ensuring schools’ security has become a priority, as installers and system integrators are trying to come up with the most robust and cost-effective security solution. However, school settings can sometimes present challenges to establishing a secure environment, as there are a lot of factors to consider. So what would be the best solution? The answer to that is Access Control, and here are three reasons why:


How Access Control Can Provide Secure Environment for Schools?


1) Potential Crime Prevention

A lot of schools implemented video surveillance cameras in order to boost security. Whilst cameras are a great solution for documenting and reviewing past accidents and issues, they don’t help to prevent these issues.

On the other hand, access control devices help to control who is going in and out of the school buildings. Therefore, most of potential threats can be prevented just by locking the doors and managing access to different visitors at different times.


2) Keep Track of Staff, Students and Visitors

On top of that, access control helps to track current location of teachers, administrators, students, and visitors. Before, issuing temporary ID cards for visitors was time consuming process. With latest advancements in access control technology makes this process easier and faster. Administrators can easily program temporary ID visitor card, with access to specific areas for a specific time.

In addition, thanks to modern access control software school administrators can keep track of staff. For example, NorPass3 has a special ‘Roll Call’ feature allowing users to printout a list of who is on site and where.


3) Monitoring and Reporting Option

Nowadays access control solutions provide special software offering various report templates, which can be used for better security planning, and responding faster to potential issues. As was mentioned features like ‘Roll Call’ informs you of who is on site and in which area. On the other hand, reports help clients to keep track of how long visitors or staff members have been in a particular area.

These reports can be helpful for T&A (time and attendance), or making sense of any issues in a particular area. For example Norpass3 ‘T&A Total Duration’ report provides a list of all users who have spent a certain amount of time in specified area. So let’s say, school administration has noticed that equipment in particular area is missing. By running this report they could see if any member of their staff has been too long in this area. Thus, decreasing the number of school theft made by staff members.


4) Inform When the Door Has Been Left Open

Access control systems can be easily integrated with other security systems such as fire alarm, lights, video surveillance and heating. Therefore, it can be programmed to give a signal when the door has been left open for longer than needed or even when it has been forced open. Or access control system could trigger the camera system to record the site. This allows administrators to close the door on time and review the situation through video surveillance. In addition, school administrators won’t have to look through long video records, as access control only triggers cameras when the actual break-in is performed. 


5) Cost-effectiveness

With access control, lost card can be easily disabled. Whereas, if a member of staff lost his/her key, schools would have to change the lock and re-issue the keys.

Cards such as Mifare can serve several different functions, apart from access control. They can also be used for cashless vending in schools, which can help reduce bullying. Moreover, it’s more efficient, as there is no need to use various cards, when now all the functions can be combined in one card.


6) Protect From Equipment Theft

Areas containing expensive equipment, requires higher security than other areas might require. With access control, administrators can use a ‘buddy mode’ at certain controllers. This feature only provides access when two valid cards are presented at the same reader within short period of time. That way, a person can’t access the area without another authorised member of staff, even if he has a card.

Another option, is to use double security, and install readers accepting only two types of credentials. For example, you could use a PIN and Prox reader. As cards could be easily stolen, double security measure makes sure that this person won’t be able to access that area.


So How To Install a Robust Access Control Solution in Schools?


1. Area that needs access control system

Before the installation takes place, you should carefully consider all the elements involved and plan out your security solution. Therefore, make sure to think of the following questions:

  • Are there any specific security issues your clients would like to address?
  • How many doors they want to control?
  • How many controllers and readers will you require?
  • What kind of security solutions your client wants to implement for each area?

These questions will help you to focus on the solution your client truly needs. It will also save you a lot of time during the installation.


2. Consider Different Levels of Access to Different Doors

Before installing an access control system it is important to consider and talk through how many access levels each room or cabinet should have. Then, you should appoint access times appropriately. Doors that are open during the day, will be locked during the evening. However some staff members might have to access this room outside “open” hours. Therefore, assuring that all the access levels have been thought through, will help to maintain needs of students, staff and visitors, whilst ensuring security. 


3. Educate Your Clients

In order to reap the most benefits of access control systems, administrators have to understand how to use all these different features, and what could be done with the information gathered. In particular it is especially important to educate clients on how to enrol new users, create different access levels, and compile all data into various reports. All access control software solution should be demonstrated several times if needed to ensure highest possible adoption and usage amidst school community.

Nortech provides free training for installers, designed to provide all the essential information required to install access control solutions. During these trainings you will also find out more about the features discussed above.


4. Communicate With Your Suppliers

As with any business relationship, communication is the key to success. Therefore, if you are unsure about any particular project or just have an enquiry, make sure to contact your suppliers. Communicating with your suppliers will help you to see the situation from a different point of view, and also will give assistance in complicated situations during the installation.

For example, here at Nortech our technical support team is available at any time throughout the whole process. Whether it is an enquiry before, during or after installation, we provide our clients with technical support to ensure that they have all the essential information at hand.


Overall, access control doesn’t just provide a secure environment for schools, but also is a helpful tool for verifying time and attendance for staff and students, track access to equipment rooms, and track arrivals and departures, making it an efficient and cost-effective solution to most issues affecting school’s security.