Preparing Your Campus
Leveraging security and access control to create the optimal student experience
- By Jim Primovic
- June 01, 2021
Creating a safe and secure learning environment has always
been a top priority for campus security professionals and
administrators, but it becomes more and more complex with
the constantly changing landscape.
Now, for example, on top of this already tremendous task,
campus security professionals must also address health and wellness,
an issue brought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic. After
an incredibly challenging year, colleges and universities are preparing
for the upcoming academic year with a focus on addressing these
multifaceted requirements in an effort to provide the optimal student
Access control solutions have always played a critical role in
increasing security at schools, especially as part of lockdown strategies
and active shooter response plans, creating an impetus for
schools to increase their investments in security technology. Following
the COVID-19 pandemic, campuses will require a similar longterm
commitment to successfully address the threat of this virus and
future health safety risks.
One important element in creating and maintaining a safe campus
environment is frictionless access control. A frictionless access control
experience makes it is easier to manage access to an area without interfering with the user experience, makes it more functional in
reducing touchpoints and enables social distancing. Three types of
technology and solutions are key to the enablement of a frictionless
access control experience: mobile applications, touchless solutions,
and wireless technologies.
Mobile and remote applications enable distance learning from kindergarten
through higher education. The technology grew exponentially
in importance and adoption during the pandemic and will
likely continue well beyond – particularly for credentials. Mobile
access is now desired more than ever for door openings – both for
convenience and as a means of reducing touchpoints during the issuance
Limiting touchpoints throughout campus is a key tactic for creating
a safe environment that allows colleges and universities to resume
everyday activities. Because doors to classrooms and buildings across
campus are a common and frequent touchpoint, touchless solutions
can reduce the risk of virus or other germ transmission.
For example, hands-free arm and foot pulls can be affixed to existing
doors as a simple, cost-effective solution to reduce touch. Fully
automated, touchless doorways can also provide complete safety and
convenience, enabling the opening and closing of doors without
touching or grasping hardware.
Expanding a campus’ existing access control system may seem like
a daunting and expensive project. However, new technology can
make a renovation project much more approachable.
For example, wireless access control solutions can be used to
expand existing access control systems easily and cost-effectively with
little to no construction or infrastructure updates.
Another important aspect of a healthy campus is understanding
the impact that building materials, as well as the design and operations
of a facility can have on the health and well-being of its occupants.
Today more than ever it is essential that every component of a
campus should contribute to a safe and healthy learning environment.
Many building product manufacturers offer transparency documents
that can help you understand exactly what materials are being
used and how they impact our health.
Ninety-six percent of 18 to 29 year old Americans have a smartphone,
which is arguably the single-most important possession of college
students today. Students rely on their phones for managing nearly
every aspect of their lives, and have come to expect the same level of
convenience with their school ID that is used for a wide variety of
applications from dining, vending and retail to attendance and access.
Adapting your campus to support a mobile student ID may require
re-examining your card office business model to determine what this
transition means for your campus, and what additional services can
be provided to enhance the student experience.
To ensure that you are able to meet this expectation to attract and
retain students, prepare your campus with access control infrastructure
that can support mobile access as soon as you’re ready to implement
it. There are also many other important considerations, such as
communication technology, credential issuer and credential type.
While this may seem overwhelming, trusted partners can help walk
you through this process to ensure a smooth deployment.
Student Housing to Accommodate Increased Demand
Campus housing has long been a critical component to creating a
sense of safety and security for college students, and demand for student
housing is continuing to grow. During the COVID-19 pandemic,
requirements for single occupancy drove this demand, despite many
colleges and universities facing declining enrollment for the 2020/2021
school year, as many first-time students delayed their first year because
of the pandemic and its impact on their college experience.
As we look ahead to the next school year, we are likely to see continued
demand for student housing due to an expected surge in college
applications as a growing number of higher education institutions
remove the requirement for standardized test scores.
The challenge is the ability to respond quickly and effectively to
this increase in demand. With decreased revenue streams, many
institutions are facing reduced funding for new construction projects.
With new construction being so vital to supporting a campus’ mission,
public-private partnerships (P3s) offer an excellent option for
funding campus development projects. P3 projects offer a number of
- A higher end living experience for students with better amenities
than the more institutional residence halls traditionally found on
- Economic development for the local community
- The ability to complete development and construction projects
more quickly and efficiently, while still prioritizing the student
However, there are also important considerations to keep in mind
as you embark on the P3 route. Private developers may not be as well
versed in the campus card or student ID, and the significant role it
plays in the day-to-day life of students. For a truly seamless integration
into your campus, you’ll want to ensure any new development
projects have the security and access control infrastructure in place to
support the use of the student ID, whether it’s a physical card or a
mobile credential on the phone. In addition, it’s vital that the sense of
safety and security you’ve established on your campus is carried
through to any private developments.
There are many factors that contribute to the student experience,
but in our roles as security professionals, it is our responsibility to
instill a sense of safety, security and well-being to create an ideal
learning environment. Thankfully, there are many tools and resources
at our disposal that allow us to do so. By working closely together, we
can accomplish this important mission.
This article originally appeared in the May / June 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.