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Improving Campus Security without Compromising Accessibility

How do we provide the best security for our students, faculty and staff yet still allow them to move freely throughout the campus? How do we bolster physical security without sacrificing easy access to campus facilities, resources and services? These are the questions that colleges and universities are routinely asking themselves around campus security. 

As real-world fraudulent ID card usage and on-campus violence are ever increasing, there is an inarguable need to improve campus security without infringing on the user experience.  So where does one begin?

As noted in a recent Ingram Micro Advisor article1 on developing a physical security plan, “While security on school campuses is a top priority, it’s also important for students (and teachers) to feel safe and welcome at their school. Most colleges in particular have open, highly accessible campuses, and any security technology should preserve that spirit, rather than stifling it.”

The good news is that the solution may not be as challenging as it once was. Today, the vast majority of student IDs leverage barcode or magnetic stripe technology to provide access to dorms, classrooms, libraries and on-campus meal plans.  Utilizing a contactless smart card with an embedded smart chip is more secure because it cannot be easily cloned and inherently diminishes the opportunity for unauthorized individuals to obtain card information. One main benefit of leveraging contactless smart card technology is the ease of use it provides for students and faculty to access various campus facilities and services by simply tapping the card on a reader.  Since the information is specific to the cardholder, cards can be configured to allow access to specific buildings, services or applications.

Some schools have also begun adding an option for mobile credentials. This technology leverages the proliferation of smartphones by putting a student’s credentials onto their mobile phone and then using it to give students access to facilities and payment systems on campus.

If you are not ready to upgrade card technologies just yet due to budget or resource restrictions, there are several options available to universities and colleges that are relatively affordable and easy to implement.  One such option is simply adding a visual security element (VSE) to student IDs that will make student and staff credentials easily verifiable.  From overt to covert options spanning holographic overlays, microtext, fluorescing images and more these VSEs provide a quick method to determine if the card is authentic as students and staff enter sporting or other campus events. 

Beyond student credentials, campus security can also be greatly enhanced with an effective visitor management system. Such systems allow for the check-in, check-out and tracking of all campus visitors improving student and staff safety without impeding on accessibility.

Many security solutions can be used to effectively secure the campus and its assets without restricting students and staff from enjoying campus offerings.

Learn how George Mason University utilized contactless smart cards to improve the student experience on their campus.

Learn more about improving campus security and accessibility in our webinar



  1. http://www.ingrammicroadvisor.com/physical-security/how-to-develop-a-physical-security-plan-for-an-educational-campus