Taking protection to the next level

Superior access control within student accommodation is a necessity and systems must be designed to ensure students feel safe

Dave Bulless, security technology expert at Allegion, formerly Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, comments

When young people move to university it may be the first time they have lived on their own, so complete peace of mind is essential for them, and also for parents or guardians who want to see their son or daughter is in a safe place.

Universities are faced with an array of options from mechanical lock and key through to electronic solutions, operated with specialist software. More often than not, the lock and key is found in university accommodation, but this can prove costly in public access buildings with a high turnover of residents, as students may lose keys, or take keys with them upon leaving the accommodation.

Consequentially, facilities management bills for replacement keys, new cylinders and administration costs can be extortionate, so it’s time to look towards more sophisticated options – in both new build and refurbishment scenarios.

Interflex access control systems from Allegion incorporate both online and offline technology to offer an integrated security solution. Negating the need for a mechanical lock and key, access is controlled accurately and simply through use of smart cards.

Smart card systems are suitable for both private student accommodation and residential areas on campus. With the ability to store data about the user and integrate with other systems in place at the university, students only need to carry one card to access their room, and it can also be used for cashless vending, library book rental, lecture attendance monitoring, canteen payment and PC access. Interflex security systems can also be customised to incorporate the latest biometrics technology, including finger and hand geometry readers. With increased government regulation relating international students, integrated systems capable of access control and biometric attendance monitoring are a requirement of increasing importance.

You only need to glance at city centres to spot the many new student accommodation buildings completed or currently under construction. There is an increasingly competitive edge to the sector, and a reliable security system can provide the cutting edge above others.

My advice to investors within higher education is to speak directly to manufacturers to decipher how a complete system can be tailored to fit their every need. Old technology lock and key systems have their place, but for high occupancy dwellings with frequent turnover of residents they are outdated and inefficient which can prove costly. Risk can be massively reduced through preventative measures and investment at the build stage.

As is often the case, an increase in initial investment can save much time, inconvenience and money throughout the life of a building. 

Making security top priority

A private accommodation project in York – a joint venture between contractors Ashcourt Property Management Ltd and property developers Nixon Homes – made security top priority during the design and building of new accommodation for students at the University in York. The contractors tasked Allegion with providing an access control system which would be flexible enough to offer adjustable levels of security for different areas of the development, as well as ensuring the safety and security of the students.

After a bespoke specification process, the Interflex IF6040 access control system was installed in the York accommodation and included IF4072 controllers and MFP700/WO2 online access readers to protect the perimeter doors and gates. This was complemented by more than 400 PegaSys offline lock terminals which were used to provide flexible protection around areas such as bedrooms, common rooms and internal corridors using network on-card technology via the students’ access card.

The integrated online and offline approach was supported by a complete, thorough and efficient installation process which ensured that Ashcourt Property Management Ltd received the highest level of support, not just during the installation, but long after it had been completed. 

For more, visit www.allegion.com