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By Alberto Jessurun / December 2, 2020 / Blog

Does Your School’s Access Control System Pass the Test?

Having a school access control system that works is more important than ever. Here’s how to choose the right one, and why you should. 

Access control systems for schools are often associated with the growing prevalence of school shootings. Parents, teachers, and students themselves are concerned about this and want to know that an institution is taking steps — including installing new technology — to combat this problem. Since 2009, more than 177 schools in the United States have experienced shootings. While awareness about the issue has played a role in improving safety, the right access control system can quite literally be the difference between life or death. 

In this article, we will discuss the importance of choosing the right access control system for your school, including these key takeaways: 

  1. Important considerations
  2. Types of access control systems
  3. Pairing an access control system with a surveillance system
  4. Training staff and students on access control
  5. Finding the best solution for your school

Important considerations

Choosing and implementing the best access control system for your school involves more factors than preventing school shootings. Your plan must account for the unique design of the school building. 

The access control system for any school should be tailored to meet the architectural elements and needs of the student body. Ideally, the main point of access should be a clearly defined, highly trafficked main entrance. It should also have safe visitor protocols in place. These two factors are your school’s first line of defense against unwanted visitors. 

Other considerations include ADA compliance and fire safety. The right access control solution for your school should not create a hindrance for those who need to access the school, especially those with special needs. Your access control system must also facilitate easy exit during emergencies.

Types of access systems

There are a number of options when it comes to choosing an access control system. These include a range of technologies suited to integrate with other systems, such as electronic locks that can be unlocked and locked with the touch of a button so administrators can lock down a school without having to go to entrances and manually use keys. This saves precious time during an emergency.

Another option is smart cards. Similar to the card system you have likely seen at today’s modern hotels, smart cards are distributed on an as-needed basis and scanned at entrances. This system allows the school to track who is coming and going, an important criterion for effective access control systems.

Electronic keypads are the next step for schools that do not wish to distribute smart cards. Instead, electronic keypads (with codes that can be changed as needed) may be installed at entrances.

For a more sophisticated solution, biometrics systems use physical characteristics to grant and restrict access, such as fingerprint technology. Another technology-oriented solution is remote access control. This cloud-based solution pairs with other measures to allow administrators to lock, unlock, change security clearance levels, and perform other functions from an off-site location. 

Pairing an access control system with surveillance

One natural next step after installing an access control system is to integrate that system with a new or existing surveillance system. Video surveillance is a powerful tool that can be used to monitor day-to-day operations at the school or review footage from a security breach. 

Modern video surveillance is a far-cry from the grainy black-and-white footage of a bygone era. From thermal imaging cameras to artificial intelligence that automatically analyzes live video feeds, surveillance is an access control system in its own right.

Training staff and students on access control

Every member of your staff, including part-time and full-time employees, should be well-versed in using and understanding your access control system. 

Once you’ve chosen and installed the right system for your school, dedicate time to ensuring that employees are aware of how to use it. This training should be refreshed often, and drills can be incorporated into training to create a hands-on understanding. 

It is also essential to inform students and their families about their technology. Make sure students know what to do when security measures are deployed, and make sure parents are aware that your school has taken stringent measures to create an environment where their children can learn safely. 

Finding the best access control solution for your school

If you have questions about choosing the best access control system for your school, Unisol International is here to help. We offer a wide catalog of products to fit your needs and complete solution design and installation services to make sure you realize the benefits you paid for. And we ship worldwide! 

When you’re ready to learn more and start creating an access control system that is user-friendly and designed with safety in mind, contact Unisol International

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