By Jeremy Saline, Senior Director of Business Development
ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions
Students Have High Expectations for High-Tech, Including Security and Access Control on Campus
The more sophisticated technology becomes, the more people expect to see it rapidly adapted to their daily lives to make things easier, faster and safer. College students are among the most likely to seek, accept and adopt these advancements as they emerge. In fact, evidence of an innovative campus is often one of their prerequisites when looking at schools. This expectation applies to how easy and secure it is to access buildings, residence halls and storage areas as well as events and everyday services like laundry, dining facilities, vending and more.
Today, cutting-edge security technology and its related high level of trackable accountability are viewed as logical, appropriate and essential. And if they seem to be missing, people question why. The idea, though, is to avoid making surveillance safeguards and electronic access control (EAC) installations look imposing or feel oppressive. Achieving this goal requires a solution that can combine powerful functionality and pleasing product design equally well.
Fortunately, ASSA ABLOY fully understands the need and can respond with solutions for safer, secure learning and living environments that also enhance the overall campus interaction experience. It’s an advantage that fits well with new building designs and renovations of classic structures that are making campuses more accessible, efficient and attractive, which is essential for recruiting.
Thousands of Doors and Needs
Campus settings are so open and have such diverse access needs that it’s necessary to maintain a high degree of flexibility and fluid movement across the gamut of housing units, academic buildings, research centers, specialized labs and venues. Advanced ways to schedule and authorize entry for extracurricular activities are also a must-have to make the most of facilities and administrator time.
Equally important are robust safeguards to accommodate all these requirements and to activate a quick response for securing openings when a sudden “event” occurs. Such a mix of security and flexibility across the large footprint of a campus poses challenges for higher education stakeholders, and for many manufacturers of door opening products. Luckily, this can be solved with the comprehensive continuum of door and electronic access solutions available for colleges and universities from ASSA ABLOY.
The continuum keeps expanding with innovations like our Aperio® line of wireless locks that make it easy to extend access control to more doors and other applications, package delivery locker systems like the Luxer One for students ordering necessities online, Safer2Open™ touchless and low-touch door openings that help reduce germ spread, and support for mobile access credentials that are supplementing key cards or replacing them altogether.
In fact, higher education is leading the way in the rapid migration to mobile credentials for electronic access control, thanks to the popularity of Apple Wallet and Google Pay applications that students use for just about every transaction now.
Keeping up with the needs and latest innovations in security and access control is complex enough, but another critical issue today is the ability to manage the tens or hundreds of thousands of doors around a campus as efficiently and effectively as possible. Getting there requires capturing all the data about this vast array of doors and a team that knows how to maximize the use of the information. Compounding the challenge is the current state of locksmith, facility and security personnel retirement, retention and recruiting.
Capturing the Value of the Door
There’s a greater appreciation today for the high value that doors play in creating a safe, secure and healthy learning environment and in providing fluid movement around campus. As a result, university and college decision makers are now looking at door openings as vital assets instead of merely necessary expenses.
This realization means complete information about these assets needs to be catalogued and monitored in a more precise way throughout the entire lifecycle of a building. Subsequently, schools are implementing comprehensive systems to identify and track door opening assets including:
- Documenting existing doors and hardware for facility management and maintenance
- Smart tagging to provide easy access to data about each door
- Creating virtual design guides to ensure consistent standards in all new construction and renovation projects
- Managing master key systems to improve operational processes
Taking this approach benefits the campus from both a financial and a security perspective. Proper documentation helps with specifying what’s needed for new builds and for renovations that can be shared with architectural, design and construction teams. The use of project punch lists to manage what is specified, bid and supplied can be a useful tool to verify quality control throughout a project. Getting as-supplied documentation is also crucial for efficiency and cost control before and after a project gets handed over to facilities management.
When something is treated as an asset on a balance sheet, capital funding can be used to maintain it. That makes it easier to keep up with technology upgrades proactively instead of relying on deferred maintenance funding only when it becomes available.
Smart tagging at each door allows maintenance staff (with permissions) to pull up detailed information about the product on each opening, including part numbers, warranties, and gives them the ability to order replacement parts and generate work orders, all right at the door. This streamlines maintenance overall, so doors are always operating properly.
From a security standpoint, it’s equally important to be able to understand and communicate exactly what is on each door and how it should operate. This ensures the university has the right level of security throughout campus and visibility into every detail of its doors.
The ability to access this level of detail is also necessary for the key system, which can be a vulnerability in facility security. When you issue a new key, card or mobile credential, it’s paramount to know exactly what level of access is being provided to a user. Today, solutions exist to manage every aspect of a key and credentialing system.
Schools are also moving toward standardizing to a single access control software instead of trying to bounce among 4, 5 or 6 disparate systems that emerged over time as housing and academic buildings came online.
Documentation is enormously important, but it’s also a huge undertaking. Even with experienced security and facility teams on board, creating comprehensive documentation can be a strain on resources. The ability to capture information from thousands of doors in a timely manner isn’t always possible or the most efficient option for internal teams.
Fortunately, ASSA ABLOY offers professional services by field resources who are door hardware experts and can complete the task easily, so institutions are set up for success.
Our Openings Studio™ software also simplifies the process and is playing a significant role in accelerating the digitalization of the door opening. Along with expediting smart tagging and managing door asset documentation, the program allows users to visualize their security doorway world in 3D and efficiently develop specs that can be easily shared among architects, designers, builders and facilities managers.
Retirements: Knowledge Flying Out the Door or New Opportunities Knocking on It?
To stay on top of door security and access advancements efficiently and effectively, universities and colleges need an internal workforce that’s able to master the installation, connectivity, operational and maintenance requirements of these more sophisticated door security solutions as well as the management of the documentation data. Which brings up another issue: labor shortages.
Many locksmith veterans are retiring from colleges and universities, which can lead to a loss of institutional knowledge. Detailed standards, design guides and smart tagging can help fill that potential void. So can an eagerness to keep learning and growing. While retirements and attrition may temporarily complicate things, they can also have a positive impact, opening doors of opportunity for bright, enthusiastic members of the existing talent pool or “new collar” candidates looking to expand their skills in an important, rewarding livelihood where there’s always something fresh to learn.
As locksmiths retire from universities and new players step in, comprehensive solution/product knowledge and expert installation become even more critical. That’s why our company has such an extensive and intensive training academy available to the higher education community, from in-person foundation and product specific hands-on installation courses to apprenticeship programs, online virtual sessions and our mobile installation training unit.
Training helps teams get quickly up to speed on existing and emerging door security trends and products, facilitating faster adoption, reducing stress and stemming resistance during workforce transitions. Training is also crucial for employee retention, demonstrating an institution’s commitment to continuing education for locksmith, facility management and campus security pros seeking to renew or advance their careers.
Opportunity abounds in the locksmith and campus security profession. For those who love to work with their hands, possess a natural aptitude and curiosity about mechanical and electromechanical innovations, and embrace new technology in general, door opening security and access solutions offer a rewarding, ever evolving, vital pursuit.
With assets fully captured and the next breed of installation and maintenance professionals in place, managing campus doors should be as easy as using mobile credentials and wave-to-open solutions.