In schools, colleges, and universities, security is paramount. Pupils, students, and staff are there to learn. It’s essential that only authorised individuals can access secure areas, and everybody else cannot freely move around the site. The challenge for educational premises is that they must combine security with free flows of traffic. There can be large numbers of people entering and leaving the site every day, as well as going to different locations within the site throughout the day.
No two projects are the same in the education sector. Every site has specific needs and preferences for their unique institution. Within the sector, there is great variation in the types of buildings to be secured. For example, university students may be issued with access credentials for themselves to get them access into the correct buildings. However, this would not be an appropriate solution for primary schools. There, staff must be responsible for the safety and security of the children on site.
Online access control for schools
In educational facilities, there are often complex traffic patterns to accommodate, with large volumes of people moving throughout the site. The best way to handle foot traffic in schools is with online access control. By centralising the locking system and access permissions, online access control offers better visibility, better security, and better overall building management.
ATRIUM for schools, colleges, and universities
For small- and mid-sized sites of up to 500 doors and 10,000 users, ATRIUM is a powerful and flexible access control solution. All the electronically locked doors across the site are linked in ATRIUM. Users, whether staff, older pupils, or adult students, are registered and issued with credentials. In many cases, swipe cards are the chosen credential in schools, often with a photo and ID information printed on them.
The ATRIUM software is free to download and use, and allows full configuration of a huge range of parameters. With the large influx and exodus of people at the beginning and end of the school day, some sites choose to allow free access during those periods. Using Schedules in ATRIUM, certain time periods can be set up with special access settings, such as not requiring credentials to be presented between 8:00 and 9:00am. However, for after-school clubs or out-of-hours services such as cleaners or contractors, individuals can be required to present a valid credential to gain entry.
Instant lockdown for schools
ATRIUM online access control is equipped with an instant lockdown function. In the event of an emergency or active threat within the site, all secured doors can be instantly locked. Any new access to the doors is prevented until the lockdown is lifted. Stopping all access to and within the site can prevent a threat or emergency from developing, giving emergency services time to respond effectively.
Individuals can also be assigned special lockdown access rights. In the event of a lockdown, while everybody else’s credentials temporarily stop working, the credentials of a person with lockdown access rights continue to grant them access. This allows security teams to escort emergency services through the building safely, without disabling the lockdown.
Integrated building management
Complex buildings such as schools and universities necessarily have complex systems. Access control, fire alarms, intrusion alarms, CCTV, and sometimes elevators all need to be managed and maintained. With ATRIUM access control, integration is seamless and easy. Intrusion alarms and fire alarms can be controlled directly within the ATRIUM management portal. Specific users can be permitted to arm and disarm alarm systems.
Elevator control is available in ATRIUM for up to 256 floors per account. With the A22 controller, an additional A22-EC is required to enable elevator control, along with CAA-480A units connected in a daisy-chain formation. With the A22K encrypted controller, elevator control comes built-in. The A22K controller is also equipped for CCTV and ANPR integration via additional licence cards. Teachers and other staff can be granted access to automatic car parks as well as the building itself, all in one system. If a door is forced open or left open too long, a CCTV feed can be set to pop up on the screen, instantly alerting security staff.
Door automation for better accessibility
Schools and colleges should be accessible to everyone. Nobody should be unable to study on-site due to disability. Education facilities must therefore be adapted to accommodate people with less or limited mobility. Many school buildings, particularly older ones, are not equipped for sliding doors. Door automation systems for swing doors are therefore a common solution.
DIGIWAY automatic door operators can be used with single and double doors with either a push or a pull action. By combining with ATRIUM access control, doors can be set to automatically open when a valid credential is presented. Students and staff with less mobility can therefore move more freely around the building, while maintaining robust security.
Biometrics for added security
There are benefits and risks with any type of security system. Traditional swipe cards, which are commonly used as access credentials in schools and universities, can be lost or stolen relatively easily. However, they are very convenient to double as an ID card. The balance of benefits and risks depends on the specific circumstances and requirements of the site.
In cases where security is the primary factor, biometrics may be a suitable solution. ievo fingerprint or facial recognition readers can be used in conjunction with ATRIUM access control. Where swipe cards might be lost or stolen, biometric data overcomes this challenge. Fingerprints and facial features are unique to individuals, guaranteeing that only authorised people can gain access.
In schools, such as Millthorpe School in York, fingerprint readers can allow access to external individuals such as cleaners, contractors, and after-school clubs in the evenings, without requiring security officers to manually grant entry.