ISG Blog

Future Access Control Trends in Higher Education – Pt 2

Re-posted with permission from Campus Safety Magazine and edited.

This week’s post is a continuation of our discussion on future access control trends in colleges and universities. Today we will discuss visitor management, building management and cloud solutions, plus a few more.

Incorporating Visitor Management Is a Must

Managing guests is an essential function for any organization, and often there is dedicated staff for this. Automated visitor management solutions today can utilize deep integration and preparation to allow for little to no onsite staff interaction at the time of guest arrival.

Integrating visitor management systems with access control is necessary for its smooth operation. Customers can incorporate visitor management systems with popular email clients to automatically collect details of people scheduled to visit a place on any given day.

Once the system receives this information, it may begin with allotting specific parking spots for a guest and ensuring they have permission to enter the right buildings and rooms. Integration with visitor management systems also allows security managers to keep track of guests by following records of their access control event audits.

Building Management Integration Conserves Energy

We can integrate future access control systems to HVAC devices or building management systems (BMS) to conserve energy. This is important for institutions of higher education because sustainability is a critical value that they are trying to teach the next generation. In addition, as public universities in particular aim to cut costs to save programs and professors, any bit of cost-savings is worthwhile.

If there is no one occupying a facility, the temperature and lighting can be adjusted accordingly. There is no need to light up an entire building that doesn’t have anyone in it. The integration allows the access control system to communicate with other systems to unify the whole campus.

Similarly, when integrated with access control, BMS can also identify a person who has entered a building. Based on the schedule that has already been uploaded, the system will know where that person is supposed to go to and adjust the temperature and lighting in that location accordingly.

Wireless Locking Systems Can Reduce Costs

Demand for integrated wireless lock systems is also on the rise in the education vertical. Many of the integrated lock manufacturers make wireless locks with a reader, exit-request buttons and lockset mechanism in a single unit.

Wireless solutions are attractive for their lower costs, as they can can be installed without cables and drilling deep into the infrastructure. Wireless systems are most popular for use in residence halls to control each room, especially when there are at least 100 installations in a building, making the overall cost and ease of installation a critical factor.

These costs will come down further if users elect a mobile credential-based system allowing for much easier management of credentials. Before, the price of controlling access to individual rooms was too high for many campuses to afford. Mobile devices are best suited for wireless networks as they already support most wireless technologies like Bluetooth (BLE) and near field communications (NFC).

Adopt Systems With Open Architecture

As more customers seek to integrate the operational technology of universities with security systems, open architecture becomes critical. Solutions with open architecture don’t restrict customers into one system and vendor for every need.

Unfortunately, there are very few access control vendors who specialize in higher education. Many of them use proprietary systems that have frustrated campuses to no end with their lack of flexibility and high ongoing costs.

This is where the selection of the right manufacturer become vital. The right vendor can provide an open system that can integrate easily with other solutions without compromising security.

Consider Cloud Solutions/Security as a Service

Cloud-based or security as a service (SaaS) solutions are becoming more popular because they are easier to manage. However, they have yet to make significant inroads into higher education. For the most part, colleges and universities still prefer on-premise installations. This could be because many of them are not familiar with the cloud systems and how they operate. Moreover, many campuses believe that the subscription fees of cloud services are more expensive than owning the entire system on-premise.

However, we are beginning to see an interest in SaaS. Naturally, as campus customers start to show interest, manufacturers become increasingly interested in entering into such markets and providing a solution that addresses specific user pain points. It is expected that more conversations related to the cloud will become prevalent in higher ed as the technology becomes more mainstream and accessible.

The main attraction of SaaS-based systems in the enterprise segment is lower upfront costs, but it can also save users money when it comes to managing the IT department. The cost for an end-user to manage an IT system, including server fees and installation fees, can be relatively high. Each new piece of equipment must be configured and added to the server, which can be time consuming and, as a result, costly. SaaS systems alleviate the need for local IT teams, allowing the end-user to allocate these resources elsewhere. In addition, there are other distinct advantages to SaaS, such as easier software, firmware and server updates.

Campus Access Control Integration Is Here to Stay

The dominant trend in higher education access control now is integration. Customers want easier installation and operation at reasonable costs. Integrating with event management, video surveillance, building management and visitor management systems will enable users to access all of these facilities from a single interface. It will also allow for more automation and help campuses reduce the number of employees required to operate the system.

In the coming years, we may see mobile credentials becoming more popular as they will reduce the costs and hassle of replacing cards and allow more remote control. Access Control as a Service could also earn more interest, as campuses become more aware of the convenience and efficiency of cloud-based solutions.

Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is certain: higher-ed access control is a unique market with changing needs that reflect an evolving technology landscape. It is important for manufacturers to fully understand these needs and help to identify ways to better automate processes and improve efficiencies as a result.

Talk to Your Local ISG Expert

Don’t wait until you suffer an access control failure; let the ISG help you plan for your future. Discuss your campus technology needs with the ISG dealer in your area. See if any of these future access control trends might solve a current problem at your college or university.

Discover if an ISG solution would benefit your institution for video surveillance, access control, mobile credentials, visitor management and more.

Contact us today!

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