The Impact of Technology

The Impact of Technology

Top six questions to help answer the impact of security on campus

Technology is everywhere in today’s classrooms and campuses. As the suite of technology solutions for campus security expands, so does the complexity for how to apply them in a fit-for-purpose way. The IT managers of the world not only have the job of creating enriching learning environments, they also have a responsibility to apply technology solutions that have the potential to save lives.

The convergence of IT and security makes it possible to approach campus security in a more comprehensive and holistic way, but that convergence raises new questions and concerns. Whether you are a campus IT manager, a security professional or administrator, there are six common questions you’ll face when it comes to improving campus security.

Q: How does convergence impact campus security?

A: The convergence of IT and security enables campuses to manage both physical and logistical security with the same policies and procedures, ensuring a more consistent, streamlined approach. Convergence also presents an opportunity to leverage the IT infrastructure to increase access control coverage at a much lower cost than traditional deployments.

With the recent proliferation of IP-enabled cameras, WiFi and Power over Ethernet (PoE), network infrastructure can be re-used to connect IP-enabled access control locks. The ability to expand the access control system more easily and affordably means a higher level of security across campus. In addition, the influence of IT standards on physical security can facilitate troubleshooting, ensure maximum performance and reliability, and minimize costs. Use of standardsbased technology also eliminates the need for any additional training.

Q: Can my existing network handle new technology tools?

A: It’s the responsibility of IT professionals to protect the network, so it is only natural that they approach the addition of new types of devices with caution. One of the most common concerns is the security of the information being transmitted. Be sure to verify that any solutions considered are using AES-128 encryption and support the latest WiFi standards. From there, campus network security policies can be easily extended to physical security and access control.

It is also common to be concerned with how much bandwidth IP-enabled locks use. WiFi and PoE locks have negligible impact on network resources. Over the course of a day, each lock transmits only 5kB to 10kB of data when communicating with the network, either at scheduled intervals (WiFi) or throughout the day (PoE).

Battery-operated WiFi locks are not always communicating on the network—they are only truly “on” a few seconds a day to communicate updates and card privilege changes. WiFi locks are usually offline (asleep), waking up for an “alarm condition” or on a user defined schedule. Alarm conditions can also be user defined and include, but are not limited to, card unknown, door prop, door forced, metal key used, low battery, etc. to allow campus security a level of personalization to fit the specific needs of the entry point. PoE locks operate in a similar way, but because of the PoE connection they are able to communicate additional information, such as real-time door position status and unlock commands.

Q: I am interested in increased access control but am concerned about the required maintenance of the associated systems. What do I need to be prepared for?

A: There are a variety of access-control solutions available, each with varying levels of required maintenance. It is important to find a solution that can balance security needs with budget and maintenance requirements. Luckily, there is a wide range of options on the market that can be customized to help meet each campus’ unique needs.

One of the most frequent questions regarding the maintenance of IP-enabled access control locks is actually quite simple—how often do I need to change the batteries in WiFi locks? There isn’t a definitive answer because it varies depending on usage. But typically, batteries need to be changed no more than once per year. Most campuses are finding the 16 to 18-month time window as optimal for battery life. Annual maintenance works best with campus schedules and is easily managed during winter and spring breaks. This maintenance is usually done by the lock shop with no burden to the IT department. In some cases, student housing workers are used to change the batteries. The battery level can be programmed as an “alarm event” sending an email to the maintenance department.

Q: How do I ensure that my user information is secure?

A: Using the latest credential technologies is the best defense in protecting user information. These technologies use NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) cryptographic standards to provide comprehensive identity security. They also provide the flexibility to work across a broad range of smart devices, including mobile phones, micro-processor cards and wearables. IT professionals can feel confident that the access control system offers the same level of data security enforced by other campus systems.

Q: Sustainability is an important objective for our campus. How does electronic access control contribute to these goals?

A: Electronic access control can have a significant impact on sustainability goals. Intelligent IP-enabled access control locks can reuse the existing IT infrastructure and reduce the number of components needed to provide complete access control.

In addition to reducing materials and associated manufacturing impacts, this also reduces costs and installation time. Equally as important, these solutions are extremely energy efficient and decrease power consumption up to 86 percent versus traditional access control solutions. Look for manufacturers who offer transparency, down to the individual ingredients used in their products. It is important to consider the full lifecycle of a product to understand its true impact on all sustainability objectives.

Q: What can I do to make it easier to keep up with changing technologies?

A: There is nothing more predictable about technology than how quickly it changes. In order to be prepared for this constant change, seek out a future-proof solution that makes it easier to adapt as new technology becomes available.

The importance of credential technologies—when it comes to protecting user information—is an excellent example of technology that is constantly evolving based on the latest security requirements. Thankfully, there are locks available that support legacy magstripe credentials as well as the latest contactless or smart card credentials and mobile access. This allows for an easy transition when migrating a user population over to the newer credentials. Similarly, there may be frequent changes to electronics that support the latest communication technologies or other advancements. Modular locks that allow users to upgrade components make it easier to adapt to changing technologies without having to replace entire units.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Jim Primovic is the director of Campus EAC Sales, ASSA ABLOY.

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