How Integrated Systems Benefit Campuses

How Integrated Systems Benefit Campuses

Solution providers need to use a consultative approach

Campus security requires a delicate balance of securing critical components such as patients, students, intellectual property or pharmaceuticals, yet provides an open and welcoming environment to its numerous and diverse visitors. Lobbies, gardens and public meeting spaces, for example, must be available to the general public while a few feet away behind an adjoining door a laboratory full of cancer research may need protecting.

Campuses use internal security teams, contract outside officers or employ police departments to implement security programs. These teams use technology and rely on outside experts to help make decisions and execute their security programs. They require a lot of support.

Security directors need to work with solution providers who can assist them through all phases of their process. The solution providers need to use a consultative approach. Ideally, if the solutions provider, integrator and any other parties involved can all work together—and put the customer first in all situations—the end user will benefit and achieve success.

Where Do You Start?

Company stakeholders must come together and perform an audit of their current security system. When you gather all the stakeholders in one room and perform a deep dive of the current security system, operational gaps are uncovered. Silos between departments are removed and collaboration begins. By thinking beyond security and figuring out operational challenges, security directors can see the big picture and determine next steps. Operational gaps will provide a compelling reason to make a change and provide the important data needed to develop a business case to upgrade a security system or add new technologies to meet company needs.

Campus security directors need to look at everything from a risk, cost and compliance perspective. What is at risk? How much are inefficiencies costing the organization? In regulated industries, how is compliance achieved? What happens if compliance is not achieved? Answers to these questions will help determine what technologies and programs are needed for the next several years

Open is the Only Choice

Security systems are not always kept up-todate like technologies in other areas of our lives. Can you imagine not updating your phone or laptop with the latest software versions? Updates automatically occur and we don’t know about it until it’s done. Why aren’t access control or video systems updated as often? Why do organizations choose not to invest in the latest solutions and operate the most recent versions?

With DIY security solutions becoming more affordable and millennials maturing into leadership roles, the security industry is going to see an uptick in organizations upgrading their security solutions, particularly their access control systems. End users are going to need to run the most updated software versions to keep their systems operating at peak performance.

As campuses review their technologies, identify operational gaps and understand they need to upgrade, they will need to install open solutions that will grow with them. When they select their solution provider, they need to ensure they offer open solutions. Open solutions providers are willing to share their Application Programming Interface (API) with manufacturers to develop integrated solutions.

For example, if a hospital uses access control and video management in its parking structure, but needs to upgrade and install a license plate recognition (LPR) system, they will want to install a LPR system that can integrate with the access control and video system. The result is the security team will be able to view the LPR video via the access control system, eliminating the need to open a second program. This streamlines the process in the Security Operations Center creating a more efficient security program.

When a company invests in an open system, they are future proofing their system. Open systems are nimble. They can expand easily, integrate with new technologies and provide the opportunity for an end user to expand when they are ready. There are virtually no limits.

Proprietary systems have limited integrations with third party technologies and upgrades or expansions that are expensive. If the proprietary system reaches end of life, the customer will need to perform a complete rip-and-replace which is expensive and time consuming. Often companies that offer proprietary systems sell direct to the end user, which means the company is stuck. Open systems are offered by integrators of all sizes, boutique integrators or national integrators who can provide alternative solutions and expertise.

Identity Management Integration Helps

Campuses are overloaded with data and inefficient processes that impact business operations and continuity. They need better systems and solutions in place to mitigate risk, meet compliance and save money.

When processes get overcomplicated, or there is pressure to meet rigorous compliance requirements, the tendency is to hire more people to resolve these challenges. Implementing an identity management system can help streamline processes to help mitigate risk and meet compliance, which saves money. An identity management system can help with these six challenges on any campus:

  1. On-boarding. Easily on-board new employees by automating identity and access rights. Assign the correct access levels every time based on employee type.
  2. Change requests. Automate access changes for employees, visitor or vendors.
  3. Off-boarding. Automatically remove access when no longer needed.
  4. Recertification. In environments when employees need to maintain certification, an identity management system can help prove and enforce compliance.
  5. Audit. Reduce manual errors, confusion and delay when you implement a standard, automated audit process.
  6. Compliance reporting. Ensure compliance for HIPAA, SOX, NERC/CIP, etc. and save money.

Your Biggest Threat

Visitors pose the biggest threat to campus environments. Not only do we know nothing about them, but navigating the challenge of maintaining an open and welcoming, yet secure environment is challenging. In a campus environment, where there are many points of entry, you need to determine what risks a visitor brings versus the cost of a visitor management system. At how many locations do you need to manage visitors? Rather than hire more people, use technology to automate the visitor process.

First, determine the risk by measuring what you are protecting and the risk if a visitor slips through. In a university setting, it may be laboratories, proprietary work or expensive equipment. In hospitals, it might be pharmacies, birthing centers or psychiatric wings. If an authorized person enters a pharmacy, what regulations are you not adhering to? What money is lost if drugs are stolen?

A visitor management system enlists the help of employees and engages visitors the moment their appointment is scheduled. The visitor receives an email that includes an NDA they need to sign before entering and information about where to park. Once in the lobby, they can sign in using a kiosk or tablet, which automatically notifies the visitor of their arrival. They can receive a guest access badge that only allows access where they are authorized to be in the building, and will terminate once their allotted appointment time is over.

All of the visitor information helps campuses meet audit requirements by providing an audit trail. Visitor management systems save money and help meet audit requirements.

Now Tie in Incidents

Universities, healthcare campuses and virtually any campus environment needs to proactively investigate and manage incidents. Examples of incidents needing investigation include theft, loitering, weather, active shooters, injuries, inspections and poor processes. What are the steps to dispatch an officer when an incident occurs? How do you notify an officer and provide the details about the incident?

Data capture plays a big role in the effectiveness of managing an incident. If you have officers writing notes at the scene, then returning to the security operations center to re-input into a form, file or Sharepoint site, the process is ineffective. When an incident occurs, information needs to be collected, sorted and managed effectively.

How is that achieved?

After you review the incident and turn it into a case for investigation, what steps are needed to pass the information to the right people to share, collaborate and work the case? Using paper or a USB is inefficient. You need to pass the information at the right time quickly and easily.

Using an incident and case management system that integrates with the rest of a security program can help manage the data, streamline the process and resolve cases more quickly.

Once you have the data, what you do with it makes all the difference. Understanding the data helps understand the likelihood of risk, where it is and how to manage it. The data helps you analyze trends and assign extra security when and where its needed.

What about Internal Threats?

Internal threats pose a high risk to campuses. People change their behavior before they are about to do something different, such as steal intellectual property. They attempt to enter areas at odd times, or try a door they don’t normally use. Managing internal threats using analytics identifies employee patterns to determine behavior abnormalities. Campuses can use machine learning via their open access control platform to perform threat analysis and add another layer of security and save time, money and headaches by catching someone before they commit an offense.

Implementing an open and integrated system provides the most secure and easy-to-execute security program for campuses needing to control access, manage identities and visitors and keep a tight rein on incidents. Capturing the right data using automated systems will help mitigate risk, meet compliance and save money.

This article originally appeared in the March April 2020 issue of Campus Security Today.


  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • Unlocking Peace of Mind

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown Read Now

  • Emerging Campus Access Control Solutions

    Emerging solutions in campus access control can mean different things. Usually, we expect the topic to focus on the very latest in door security products and solutions that have just been recently released or are about to be launched. After all, staying up on improvements to keep campuses safer is critical. Plus, it’s always interesting and exciting to learn what’s new and how innovations are going to better protect lives and assets and help the industry be even more successful. Read Now

  • Here’s How Instructional Audio Can Play a Key Role in School Safety

    Ensuring the safety of students and employees is critical in today’s educational environment. While the threat of a school shooting is in the back of everyone’s mind, the truth is there are many possible scenarios that could crop up at any time in classrooms, hallways, and other school spaces—from fights or altercations to a sick child or staff member who requires emergency attention. Read Now