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Addressing Higher Education’s Access Control and Scheduling Issues

Here’s how college campuses can upgrade their access control and scheduling processes with automation, cross-functional teams and systems integration.

Colleges and universities have access control and scheduling challenges that most other types of organizations, such as corporate campuses and hospitals, don’t experience. So how can institutions of higher education address these issues?

Campus Safety magazine spoke with Blackboard Senior Solutions Engineer Dan Lewis about how automation, having a cross-functional team and systems integration can help.

“One of the great challenges for higher education and higher education campuses is that most access control and security systems have been built for the corporate environment, which does not address a lot of the unique challenges that higher education has. Such things as large move-in days where you’ve got hundreds or thousands of students coming to campus for the first time, or returning to campus. Corporate environments usually have maybe 20, 30 new hires, so [in higher education] there’s a much greater level of complexity in dealing with those issues.

“Additionally, scheduling is much more complex than it would be for most corporate security systems because your holidays are more complex. The behavior of your system needs to be more sophisticated and to deal with such things as winter breaks, spring breaks, summer sessions, where you have different behavior that are needed for students and faculty and staff. While in corporate environments, they’re usually very simplistic holidays.

“In addition, the ability to pull data together from various systems throughout higher education, to be able to utilize and making some of those automated decisions you need for your access control and scheduling. So, it is important to be able to integrate a lot of different systems together to give you that functionality needed.

“Of course, to do this you need to have a cross-functional team bringing members of your institution together, and that can be administration, departments of public safety, IT, student housing, student engagement, any number of groups because you need the buy-in from all of those in order to really come up with a comprehensive solution that will work for everyone, and be able to pull all that data together, and utilize it in an efficient manner.

“When you can pull all that data together and use automated features that will allow you to assign access based on student, faculty or staff information, whether they’re freshmen that live in a certain residence hall that are a certain major and involved in certain extracurricular activities, you can set it up to have automated assignment of access. With the number of faculty, staff and students you’re managing, it’s critical to have that capability so that you can increase your efficiency in programming it and managing your access control and security systems.

“Additionally, it’s critical to be able to pull disparate systems together so that you can access video. You can access other information about your campus in one dashboard that you can monitor all those goings on at the same time. Because with all the information and all the incidents that are going on, you need to be able to react quickly and be able to draw upon that information in an efficient manner.

“If you have disparate systems, it’s very hard to be able to pull that information together, and then react to it in a timely manner. So again, what Blackboard brings to the table and what you need to be looking for your campus is a way to pull that information together, pull together the groups on your campus so that you can utilize all that information efficiently and effectively to help secure your campus.”

Blackboard is the 2018 Campus Safety Conference Event sponsor. For more information, visit Blackboard.com.

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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!

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