The Impact of Technology
Top six questions to help answer the impact of security on campus
- By Jim Primovic
- Apr 01, 2019
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
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
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
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.