Minimizing the Tradeoff Between Security and Convenience

Integrated key management and asset control systems offer a non-intrusive way to keep your campus safe.

Physical security for campuses typically involves a number of technologies, devices and use of manpower. Because of the nature of the campus environment, operational systems must balance security requirements with the need for open access.

Technology solutions that fall under this umbrella and are commonly implemented into an overall security strategy might include indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras; card-key type and/or biometric access control systems; ID management solutions; information management control systems; guard tour systems and so on. Complementing these solutions on most large campuses is a key control and asset management system that is integrated with the physical security systems via local or wide area network (LAN or WAN).

Lockers Help Campuses Manage Weapons, Devices and More
Key control systems are a custom-tailored solution designed to record the access history of each key, including user, date and time of checkout/return. They also eliminate outdated lock boxes, unreliable manual logs and messy key identification tags. Constructed of rugged stainless steel, the illuminated key storage system is designed to resist abuse and is alarm-protected against tampering. By releasing assigned keys only to authorized users, the system helps ensure adherence to industry standards, such as those from the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS) and Clery Act.

The widespread use of key management and control systems as a security management tool in medical and educational facilities has led to the implementation of large locker systems. In a hospital emergency ward, for example, confiscated weapons can be temporarily secured in a controlled locker. This protects the medical staff and hospital patients and visitors from accidental weapons discharge and helps to prevent criminal acts.

Other items, such as mobile communication devices, iPads and vehicle keys may also represent potential security breaches if stolen or misplaced. Research facilities — often located in university or medical environments — must utilize additional precautions for securing beta prototypes or research that is stored on a laptop or removable storage device when not in use. 

Asset control systems that can hold and control access to firearms and other small devices with an audit trail to record when a locker was opened and by whom, are the ideal solution for these situations. Items can be returned to any unused locker for convenience, and systems can be set up as personal storage. The systems also let security management know when something is wrong. An open door, the use of force to gain access, a power failure or even the misuse of the keypad will trigger an alarm and record the event in the log file.

When integrated with monitoring software, the tracking information provides reliable confirmation of all access transactions. Items can be returned to any locker but if they are not returned, the software can send an E-mail alert to the system manager. When the system is integrated with an access control system, alerts can also inform management if someone tries to leave the building without returning an item taken from a locker. In addition, with built-in serial port connectivity as part of the asset control system, managers can access, program and monitor the lockers from anywhere via the network.

This convenience enables facility managers to access reports, change users, establish permission levels for each user code, monitor data or configure the systems using TCP/IP from virtually any location. It’s a tremendous time saver and adds safety and security measures because individuals can be removed from the system quickly and easily.

Modules Make System Design Easy
Configuring a key control and/or asset management system is as easy as identifying needs and then building the system with modular components that can be changed as needs change. Multiple lockers and/or key storage cabinets can form a single fully-integrated system to hold hundreds of keys and other valuable items in multiple locations. They can be tailored to suit a variety of access needs with a built-in keypad, biometrics such as fingerprint readers, and a magnetic or proximity card reader.

Users can select a cabinet size according to their needs and, if more than one cabinet is required, the arrangement can be side by side or stacked. Choices for modules include mechanical key storage modules, key card-style modules, lockers of various sizes or blank modules to be filled at a later time. Each key control and asset management system is powered by AC electricity and supported by a 48-hour backup power supply.

An orderly and secure system for management of valuable assets as well as keys, custom designed for the application, is a cost effective way to help ensure security in any facility or area.

Fernando Pires is the vice president of sales and marketing for Morse Watchmans.

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Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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