The Costs of Crime and the Benefits of Security Technology, Part 2

In part two of this story, we explore the many benefits of locks and access control technology on campus.

This article is the second part of a two-part cost/benefit analysis of locks and access control. Read part one here.

Now that we’ve covered the costs associated with locks and access control systems in part one, let’s look at their many benefits.

For campuses that choose to install locks on doors so teachers can lockdown their classrooms in the event of a mass shooting, history has shown us that this strategy does much to mitigate the carnage resulting from these tragedies. In the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, for example, “Not a single student or staff member was killed behind a locked interior door,” Safe Havens Executive Director Mike Dorn noted to CS in 2013. “This affords additional evidence that lockdown is still one of our most effective tools to prevent death in mass casualty school shootings.”

Although the death toll from Sandy Hook was horrific, with 20 children and six adults being killed, many lives were saved because lockdown was implemented quickly in most of the classrooms. What that number actually is we will never know, and it’s impossible to put a price tag on who was saved.

Rate of Other Crimes Decreases Too
Active shooter events are one of the most dramatic crimes that can occur on a campus, but what about other crimes? Access control and locks can reduce the occurrence of these types of incidents too.

“We have saved a substantial amount of money by locking down some of our dietary serving areas and nourishment closets on the patient floors,” says Carolinas HealthCare System Locksmith Supervisor and Application Specialist David Moore. “In one instance, we were losing hundreds of dollars per week over a two month period because people were getting into our serving area of the cafeteria after hours.”

RELATED: What Else Are Your Doors Letting Into Your Building?

The University of San Francisco (USF) also experienced a significant decrease in thefts from buildings when it switched from keys to cards and filled in the gaps that were previously lacking access control, seeing a 47 percent drop in the first year alone.

Many Campuses Transitioning to Card Access
Like USF, a significant number of other campuses have transitioned or are in the process of transitioning from metal keys to proximity cards, smart cards, mag stripe cards or even near field communication (NFC) because of the increased security and savings they offer. Brad Aikin, who is Allegion’s commercial electronics portfolio leader, estimates the risk mitigation provided by monitored access control can lead to a 10-15 percent cost reduction compared to mechanical hardware.

“With mechanical keys, I can’t see if the door has been left open, or worse, kicked in,” he says. “On a monitored access point, I can tell if the door was left open. I can also tell if the door was forced open and respond very quickly.”

Access control also limits the suspect pool in investigations as well as the times when authorized users can enter a facility.

“One of the real benefits is being able to control when people can come and go,” says Val Verde USD Chief of District Security Christopher Wynn. “With keys, you can have people showing up at a school site anytime they want.”

Deploy Staff More Effectively
Val Verde USD has also used its access control system as a force multiplier.

“Let’s say you have a receptionist who is given an electronic buzzer to buzz people into a door,” says Wynn. “We replace that door lock with a Salto lock, and now the receptionist doesn’t even have to monitor the door. If the person’s credential allows them in, they get in. You’re saving a fraction of time for the receptionist, but maybe that fraction is 150 times per day.”

With stats like these, it’s no surprise that the force multiplier effect of locks and access control can have significant financial impact. At Carolinas HealthCare, they expect to save $200,000-$300,000 per year by moving to electronic keys. They also expect to save another $5,000-$10,000 with the new system’s auditing function.

“Electronic keys allow us to force audits by having staff revalidate sooner so it gives us up-to-date entry information and audit records without sending FTEs to do it,” adds Moore.

Proper Security Bolsters Your Campus’ Reputation
Although we’ve focused mostly on the security improvements that can be realized by installing locks and access control systems, an important aspect that should not be overlooked is how these upgrades affect how students, parents, patients, faculty, clinicians, visitors and employees perceive your school, university or hospital. Access control and locks can contribute to an overall feeling of safety and security that can have a positive impact on the recruiting and retention of these individuals.

RELATED: The Costs of Crime and the Benefits of Security Technology, Part 1

At a hospital, an incident caused by poor access control can certainly affect customer satisfaction scores, not to mention attract additional scrutiny by CMS, the Joint Commission and OSHA.

In higher ed, if an institution can demonstrate it is on the leading (but not bleeding) edge of technology by providing a 21st century campus experience – not only in security, but vending, off-campus retail, athletic event ticketing and more – it will enhance its brand and attract more students.

Although implementing the latest access control and locking solutions can be challenging, for campuses that do their research and create a well thought out plan, the investment is worth it.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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