4 Reasons Why You Should Install Electronic Access Control in Dorms
Moving from mechanical to electronic access control solutions save a campus time and money, as well as provide many other benefits.
Many university administrators across the country have installed electronic access control (EAC) solutions on the perimeters of their residential halls. This makes perfect sense given the perimeter is always the first line of defense. Unfortunately, many have yet to install EAC on the student rooms inside due to budget restrictions or higher-priority projects receiving their attention. Despite this, residence life and facility managers are quick to admit that handling student room keys is a hassle.
As students lock themselves out and lose their keys, a staff member must manage room key masters, and it’s time consuming to replace lost keys or rekey locks. Making the move from mechanical to electronic solutions makes the most sense in terms of overall value, and here are four reasons why.
1. EAC Provides Greater Security and Benefits
Using electronic locks and access control on residence hall doors offers better credential control. Unlike standard keys, credentials can be quickly issued and revoked in the system. This makes them ideal for students and staff who want and need access now.
Through the security smart cards and smart phones provide, the encryption and other security measures built into the card and system provide for greater security during use or if a credential is lost. When using mobile credentials for electronic access, there are fewer lost cards to reprint as students are less likely to misplace their cell phone compared to a card.
Interestingly, according to a 2012 Unisys report, it takes 26 hours for the average person to report a lost wallet (potentially containing an access card), but only 68 minutes to report a lost cell phone. Reporting the loss of a phone and changing credentials is likely to happen much more quickly than if its owner loses an access card, thereby ensuring the integrity of the room’s security.
Smart cards and mobile IDs can’t be duplicated, as can keys and magnetic stripe or proximity cards. If a smart card is misplaced or lost, it can be replaced without duplication or misuse concerns.
Last but not least, EAC capabilities allow for an audit trail, so that administrators can see who has accessed which rooms and when. Audit trails and reports available through the EAC system provide staff with usage trends. Depending on the EAC system chosen, reports can be issued in real time to provide more information when needed, such as in theft investigations.
2. EAC Costs Less and Is Easy to Install
The lower costs and ease of installation is another reason to buy into EAC for student rooms in residence halls.
Electronic locks come with wireless options. Not having to run wires prevents unnecessary destruction of walls, which makes for quicker and simplified installation. This saves time and money throughout the installation process.
In addition, there are different options of wireless technology that communicate with the access control system (such as 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi). Campuses can choose the solution that fits the specific needs of the application and building. Selecting one over the other is a choice driven by the type of application and usage goals. For instance:
- 900 MHz is ideal when real-time communication is essential and signal range may be problematic
- 2.4 GHz is best-suited for situations when real-time access control is not needed, access rights seldom change and use of the existing IP infrastructure is preferred.
Electronic locks are designed to fit into a standard cylindrical door prep, making it easy to upgrade without having to replace the door or modify the frame. Installation is complete in minutes using just a Phillips screwdriver, with no additional holes to drill or wires to run to the opening. This simple installation makes a once-daunting task more manageable for administrators thinking about increasing the use of access control to improve efficiency, convenience, safety and security. In addition, with a low price point, it doesn’t cost much more than a standard mechanical lock.
In making a decision to move to EAC for student rooms, administrators must choose carefully to ensure the locks are able to adapt to future upgrades. For example, oftentimes the hardware and software systems are proprietary and not compatible with other components or systems, which, while they may not be needed at the moment, may be needed in the future.
It’s important to consider multi-technology locks, which can support credential upgrades that may occur in the future. Open architecture hardware works with as many different systems as possible.
By going this route, administrators aren’t tied to their current system or forced to overhaul their locks, readers or software. This protects the initial investment for years to come as locks will not need to be replaced to accommodate a new system.
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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!