20 June 2011
From murder, rape and robbery to alcohol and drug abuse, campuses are vulnerable to the same crimes as the world at large.
Thanks, however, to giant and ongoing strides in security technology, and despite high crime levels in most countries, it is viable for places of higher learning to provide safe environments for staff and students.
In South Africa, wracked by crime throughout its length and breadth, its safest campuses attribute their success to cutting-edge technology in conjunction with trained personnel.
“Without effective systems in place, our universities, colleges, technikons and the like would undoubtedly have descended into disorganised, crime-ridden chaos,” avers Zane Greeff, technical director for Elvey Security Technologies. “However, those that keep up with developments in the electronic security field are able to exploit a number of different avenues in their quest to minimise, if not eradicate, trespassing, violence, theft, arson, hate crimes, assault and vandalism.”
Ideally suited to this challenging job, he says, is a comprehensive security management system that can be easily and cost-effectively integrated with existing infrastructures such as video, intercoms, intrusion, fire and perimeter detection, and in so doing, deliver powerful end results. The days are long gone for inflexible, one-size-fits-all solutions. In today’s security-conscious world, universities want customised systems capable of addressing their unique challenges. With the AC2000 standard edition, access control and security management worries are the thing of the past.” The AC2000 SE has been successfully installed at large facilities around the world including oil refineries, mines, ports, corporate premises and universities. Understanding that each site has its own unique challenges, the manufacturer CEM works continuously to ensure that its product is able to meet the most exacting of security needs, says Mr Greeff.
Traditionally chaotic, student registration has become far less onerous on staff as a result of innovations such as the Visual Imaging Pass Production System (VIPPS), which produces permanent and temporary identification badges for faculty staff, students and visitors. According to Mr Greeff, the VIPPS workstation is fully links with the AC2000, a fully integrated access control and security management system. Not only does it record and store the details of card holders but it also allows for the speedy retrieval of staff and student records as well as the assignation of access levels and time zones, thereby freeing up administration staff for other activities. What’s more, institutions can personalise badges with their logos, background images and text fields.
The growing trend to smart card usage is very evident in the world of degrees and diplomas, which invariably requires complex security situations within relatively limited budgets, notes Mr Greeff further. “Smart cards have enormous benefits since they can be used for multiple applications; it’s a “one card” identity solution for both access control and university management.”
According to him, each and every student and staff member is issued with a card that contains not only registration data but also their course and other information. As a result, they can use their cards in an administrative as well as access capacity. Smart cards allow them entry to libraries as well as access to resources such as cashless vending, photocopying and car parking control, simplifying their lives and simultaneously optimising institutional resources.
Inherent to the system is the card reader, which boasts an LCD display screen as well as an onboard database. In the unlikely event of a server communications failure, says Mr Greeff, the reader will continue to operate and store transactions offline, thus ensuring zero system down time, and - importantly - not locking card holders inside or outside the premises.
Another impressive feature of the AC2000 is its Access Levels application, which allows security personnel to link cardholders to access groups. He explains: “Within medical school, resident doctors could be assigned to a higher access group than first year medical students. This means the doctors would have access to certain areas such as the pharmacy, which would be off-limits to their junior counterparts. It could even be used to block access for truant or problem students.”
The alarm event display module (AED) provides security personnel with a complete graphical and textual representation of the current status of the entire system. For example, says Mr Greeff, if a reader has been tampered with, the AED will relay this to security staff in the form of real time graphical, audio and text-based alarms. This instant notification allows them to respond to alarm or system error situations immediately. In addition, it provides a dynamic, on-screen interface to external CCTV systems and facilities for CCTV switching and remote door broadcasting.
With virtually limitless expandability, he continues, the system lets universities and colleges expand their access control systems as they grow or their budgets permit. All that’s required is the simple addition of Ethernet-enabled controllers or card readers to the network.
Foot patrols remain a feature of modern-day campus security but what has changed is their efficacy and integrity of performance. This, again, is the result of technology, he says. An add-on module designed to monitor patrolling personnel, it specifies a sequence of readers to be visited by the guard within a prescribed period of time, failing which it will trigger an alarm. Further, the software is also capable of temporarily suspending and then resuming guarded tours.
The vehicles application, he maintains, never fails to excite. It allows security staff to produce professional passes or vehicle tags for all vehicles requiring access to campus and residence parking areas. Able to associate cardholders with vehicle records, it also stores details such as make, model and registration number on its data base. Cardholders on the system can then be identified as authorised ‘Approved Drivers’.
Vehicle access control cards or tags treat vehicles in the same manner as human cardholders, with the readers only granting access with the correct authorisation. Traces can also be applied to vehicles, thereby creating a visual display of their movement via the AED module. “This provides a full track record of vehicle card transactions, essential for reporting and monitoring purposes,” he says. Additional features of the vehicle module include anti-pass back, customised user definable fields and automatic disabling of vehicle passes/tags.
Other handy modules include the zone module, which allows a real time view and count of the movement of cardholders in selected zones; visitor management; elevator control; database portioning; time and attendance reporting, and failover, a dual redundant server.
(Full training, can be arranged through Elvey Security Technologies, and compulsory for those who wish to provide a comprehensive security management system to their customers.)
Prepared and submitted by Priyesh Jagjivan
Elvey Security Technologies
Tel 011 4016700
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org