Why Campus Environment Should Choose a Unified Solution
Campuses face a variety of challenges when securing their facilities
- By Kim Rahfaldt
- October 01, 2018
Campus environments experience
many challenges when it
comes to securing their facilities.
need to find the right balance
between having an open environment and a
secure environment. Students need to feel
secure, but don’t want to feel like their residence
hall is restrictive. The many entry
points on a campus mean lots of cameras and
access readers. How do you prioritize and
budget for a secure environment?
Healthcare campus environments are concerned
with child abduction, aggressive
patients and who has access to pharmaceutical
closets. Maintaining a secure—yet
open—environment is also challenging
because people are coming and going at all
hours of the day.
In commercial environments, managing
visitors is essential. How do you know who is
entering your building? Employees, visitors,
contractors, delivery drivers, etc. all need
access, and understanding the level of threat
they bring is critical.
What is the best way to tackle these challenges?
The following five steps can guide you:
- Perform a risk assessment to determine
your security needs.
- Develop a comprehensive security plan
based on risk assessment results.
- Identify technologies and security programs
that will meet the needs of the campus,
including meeting compliance requirements.
- Consider how a unified security platform
provides the best choice to mitigate risk,
reduce cost and increase compliance.
- Always plan for the future as you map
out your security plan for today.
Think about what you are trying to protect
and what you want to protect it from. In a
campus environment, this could mean protecting
students or patients from active shooters.
Work with a consultant, integrator or
even a manufacturer to complete. They can
help you identify the resources you want to
protect, and how likely the resources will be
exposed to risks.
Once you define what you are protecting, how
will you protect it? What combination of
technology, people and programs will be
effective? Should other departments get
involved in the plan? Risk and Compliance,
HR, IT and security, plus other departments
should have input at this stage to provide a
Your risk assessment will determine which
technologies you need to properly secure your
campus. A unified solution delivers a comprehensive
solution where you work with one
company. The following technologies offer the
best solutions for a campus environment.
Do you know who is on your campus and
why? Do they have access to the areas they
should, and more importantly not have access to the areas they should not? Identity and access management systems
can help you put procedures in place that grant access to specified areas
for specified times. Break it down by identity, and get as detailed as possible.
For example, only nurses and doctors should have access to the
pharmaceutical closets while the custodial staff should not.
When a new employee is hired, many departments are involved in
the onboarding process including HR, IT, and the security team, and
they all have different procedures and need to communicate. Sending
several emails and managing spreadsheets is cumbersome and inefficient.
It also takes days to process one new employee. An identity management
system streamlines that process using workflows that close
gaps. All departments can log in, fill in their information and the
employee is onboarded in minutes.
A record is kept for auditing purposes. It’s reporting capabilities
help healthcare institutions meet HIPAA compliance requirements.
This saves time and money while mitigating risk, and improves business
processes across the organization.
How are visitors managed? Paper logbooks are ineffective and provide
no useable data. Most often, security managers are concerned with
employees, visitors and contractors, but in campus environments, add
patients and students to that list. Who poses the biggest risk? Cloudbased
visitor management systems engage faculty and employees and
create a more secure environment. Visits are scheduled and temporary
access cards can provide access to specified areas during the scheduled
visit time only.
Information is provided to the visitor in advance of their arrival.
Important information about where to park, for example, can help
make a visitor feel more welcome, providing a positive experience and
creating a good first impression for your brand.
Once you’ve figured out what you need to protect, you can determine
how many cameras you will need and how you want to manage your
video system. See events in either real time or after the fact to investigate
alarms and incidents. When integrated with an access control system,
more information is provided to the security team so they can
make better, more informed decisions about how to respond and you
provide a safer environment to your patients, students and staff.
The access control system is often the heart of the security system.
Your risk assessment will determine where access is most needed. Budget
usually drives this process, and often access control is completed in
phases. The most critical doors receive card readers first, such as pharmaceutical
closets, office areas and laboratories in healthcare facilities,
and residence hall perimeter doors, research labs and professor offices
on university campuses. Corporate campuses focus on perimeter and
Phase two can start securing the next set of doors. There are always
more doors that need access. Plan out the phases and budget accordingly.
Security officers add another layer of security to any campus environment.
Equipping security officers with the right tools helps mitigate risk.
An incident and case management system can help security officers
investigate, analyze and document incidents so companies can make
informed decisions. Incidents happen every day, and proper tracking of
them can help a company determine if maintenance is needed or if a
certain employee always seems to be present during a slip and fall.
In a campus environment, a lot of time and money are spent dispatching
security officers or maintenance staff to investigate incidents:
leaky roof, burned out lights, slip and falls, etc. Tracking incidents can
help a company better allocate its resources, saving money. An incident
and case management system can integrate with your access control
system to mitigate risk and enforce compliance.
In public environments, an incident management system can provide
an efficient way to communicate among the security officers. Suspicious
individuals can be flagged in the system and communicated to
staff between shifts to be on the lookout.
COMMAND AND CONTROL
While operating all these systems may seem like too much to manage,
it’s not. Larger campuses should consider investing in a command and
control software system to manage all systems. The software allows you
to manage most systems from a single window. Rather than jumping
from application to application to respond to an alarm, users can see
everything from the one window. Manage not only the security functions,
but HVAC, water, BMS, intrusion, etc. The security operator is
more efficient, can respond faster and provide better security.
UNIFIED SECURITY PLATFORM
Choosing a unified system from one company provides many benefits.
First, the systems are designed to work with each other, which helps
mitigate risk. This also eliminates integration issues or “breaks” the
different upgrades often produce. Security staff only needs to learn one
operating system, which saves training time and money.
Second, choosing a unified solution means going to one place for
support. If you have a site support agreement with your manufacturer,
that manufacturer should commit to providing technical support
for your entire system, including any third party systems. This
is a huge benefit for the customer. There is one number to call, one
company to deal with and one relationship. Finger pointing between
manufacturers is eliminated. And best of all, the customer only
receives one bill. There is nothing worse than getting nickeled and
dimed for support issues. This allows the customer to better budget
their resources and save money.
Third, companies will also save money when they choose a unified
solution because they are working with one company. It’s easier to
negotiate better pricing when committing to one manufacturer for
your unified system. They understand your overall security needs,
goals and plans, and should have a vested interest in your success.
Overall, deploying and operating a unified system mitigates risk,
saves money and helps an organization meet compliance.
Plan out your security system for five to 10 years and phase in solutions
as budget allows. Choose technologies that can grow and expand
as your organization grows. Watch pricing structures and understand
product road maps before committing to a project of 10 years or more.
Select a manufacturer who wants to be a true partner. You are making
a long term investment and commitment,
therefore the relationship is important. Understand
your manufacturer’s company culture and
get to know who you will be working with on a
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.