Bringing Biometrics to Campus
Biometric security solutions are gearing up to capture greater market share and make physical access control systems (PACS) in education more secure.
- By Steve Humphreys
- February 01, 2021
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered the “normal”
operational practices that educational facilities previously
operated under. With much of the world still in recovery
mode, students and staff are still primarily engaged in virtual
and/or hybrid learning, leaving campus officials with a finite
window of time to consider and implement strategic security solutions
that establish a “new normal” to better protect everyone on
The post-COVID-19 normal will forever impact the campus environment
and security strategies will largely be centered toward several
key initiatives, including people counting, occupancy controls,
temperature screening, contact tracing, and reducing office touch
points. Many legacy security systems are now being re-evaluated to
allow for touch-less or frictionless access control — a move designed
to eliminate the need for employees, visitors, and students to physically
touch a surface when using an access control system. Though
upgrading outdated technologies is historically a cumbersome and
expensive process, there is a better solution. Enter: biometrics.
The global biometrics market is forecast to reach $82.8 billion by
2027, growing at a 19.3% CAGR from an estimated $24.1 billion in
2020 – an impressive feat considering the relative newness of the
technology. While the biggest factor driving this demand is the pandemic,
which has increased the focus on “contactless” identification
and access control solutions, the increasing transition to the cloud,
partnerships with dealers and customers, and the total solution
offered by biometrics have also played a part.
We’re seeing biometrics be adopted across many verticals, concentrated
in higher security areas – hospitals, data centers, federal
government, critical infrastructure, banking, and more. For
instance, airport facial recognition implementations continue to
roll out every day; contactless biometric bank card applications are
on the rise, and we’re even seeing the advance of biometric smart
cards for digital identity and payments. When it comes to security
and access control, touch-less workplace solutions are in high
demand to track and record access, as well as restrict access to only
the right people at the right time.
What About Biometrics in Educational Facilities?
In education, it’s becoming more and more critical to adopt security
measures that can ascertain a person’s identity without simply
relying on the possession of an ID card. Biometrics technology, at its
core, prevents a common concern among university campuses in
which a person comes in possession of someone else’s ID card, granting
them access to data they shouldn’t have or to an area they
shouldn’t be in. Verifying an individual’s fingerprint or facial features
to authenticate their identity is the most effective way to maintain
students’ and staff members’ safety.
For campuses concerned about costs, there is good news – facial
recognition isn't expensive to add to existing security solutions, and
in many cases, it's coming almost for free, with good cameras becoming
more pervasive and facial algorithms getting better at off-angle,
off-lighting recognition. Additionally, despite some voiced concerns
surrounding contact biometric technologies in light of the pandemic,
fingerprint recognition will continue as an additive, either as a lower friction
option, new installation, or multi-bio-factor authentication.
While biometric authentication is convenient and gaining traction
among most, some privacy advocates say that biometric security leaves
the door open for unauthorized access to personal data. But think about
it this way: biometrics are already a part of our everyday lives. Facial
and/or fingerprint recognition is used to unlock phones, tag friends in
social media photos, and when going through security at the airport.
Biometric identification isn’t going away – on the contrary, the
demand is growing. However, this doesn’t mean that concerns are
unsubstantiated; privacy concerns and identity-based threats are
valid issues that must be addressed before widespread adoption will
With hackers and those with malicious intent becoming more
sophisticated in their approaches every day, proactive security solutions
can veil a user’s identity during data collection, making the biometric
system much more difficult to hack. Additionally, using multi-factor
authentication helps circumvent fraud attempts and keep
consumers’ data safe from threats.
Whether educational facilities are deploying campus-wide access
control, managing ID badging, or gathering real-time video intelligence,
biometric security solutions enable schools to feel confident
that the people on campus all belong there.
This article originally appeared in the January February 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.