Creating a safe and secure learning environment

Issue 2 2021 Editor's Choice

Creating a safe and secure learning environment

The age-old question for education providers is where to allocate budgets, with conflicting priorities and scarce resources proving to be an ongoing challenge. While security can often be the last item on the agenda, investing in solutions that keep people safe, reduce cybersecurity risks, protect assets, and optimise facility use, is essential to creating an effective and protected learning environment.

For University College London (UCL), managing the access of over 42 000 enrolled students, 20 000 staff and a system of more than 70 000 cardholders across its multi-site campus seemed like an immense undertaking. The sheer scale of the university’s operations determined the need for a comprehensive electronic access control solution to manage multiple systems, while providing unobtrusive, yet robust security.

A single identity

Gallagher Command Centre’s integrated security solution made it easy, connecting the university’s 107 buildings, controlling 1291 doors, 52 turnstiles, and 37 lifts. Gallagher systems also secure UCL’s top security areas such as high-risk research space and data centres, while helping to divide public and semi-public areas from departmental spaces. The solution was integrated with staff, student, and visitor records systems, and filters duplications to ensure a single identity for efficient cardholder management.

As a growing organisation, UCL’s security requirements are continually changing, but the scalability of the Gallagher system means that its needs can be consistently met. “Gallagher systems have been introduced as a progressive response to the need for more security control on site,” said Mike Dawe, security systems manager for University College London. “As UCL’s estate grows rapidly, the Gallagher system remains a key component of its security response, and in the measures deployed in new buildings.”

Access control management is an important component of effectively managing the flow of people and restricting access when required. Gone are the days when locking a door is a sufficient way to keep students safe.

Securing hostel access

The Western Cape College of Nursing on South Africa’s Athlone Campus, a sprawling complex of lecture halls and administration blocks, including four hostels accommodating 2000 nursing students, is a great example of how access needed to be more secure.

The nursing college had no method of limiting access to its hostels. People came and went as they liked with no record of who was on site and it was difficult to enforce visitor hours. Theft was a problem and reported cases of sexual assault had become a major concern.

Using Gallagher Command Centre, the college was able to effectively manage access to the hostels using integrated visitor management systems to monitor visitor movement and control visiting periods.

Biometric fingerprint readers were mounted on full-height turnstiles at each of the hostel entrances and exits to prevent unauthorised entry by people using lost or loaned cards. Anti-passback measures built into Command Centre meant students couldn’t ‘pass in’ a visitor, as it recognises and records that someone has tried to enter twice. In the evening, the system generates an alarm and reports on visitors still on site, allowing security to ask people to leave and prevent further visitors from entering.

Alongside access control, the college installed a comprehensive video surveillance solution, which has achieved significant cost savings through deterring vandalism and reducing theft. The video management system is seamlessly integrated with Command Centre, creating one easily managed security solution to track student, staff and visitor movements and ensure that when an incident does occur, security staff are quickly informed and able to respond effectively.

Gallagher’s security solution provides a reliable way to clearly capture data, enabling security personnel to easily find the right information for quick incident resolution. This has led to improved processes and procedures, and has aided in convictions when necessary.

The combination of the new access control system and an increase in physical security barriers means the college has also been able to decrease the number of security guards patrolling the facility, reducing overhead costs. Customising and generating reports for college management is also a straightforward task, saving time and money.

“We’re hearing more education facilities ask how they can make the most of their security budget,” says Morne Grobler, group operations officer for Africa at Gallagher. “We know, when securing educational facilities, it is critical for systems to be integrated and managed from a single platform. A scalable, integrated approach offers significant cost savings and flexibility, with the peace of mind that students and staff are safe while on campus.”

For more information contact Gallagher Security, +27 11 974 4740,,

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