Security is being reviewed at tertiary institutes following the kidnapping and murder of university student Leigh Matthews. Priority is being given to the security at South African tertiary institutes. International security company Gallagher Security Management Systems (SMS) believes tertiary institutions need a broad-ranging preventive and remedial security system.
Gallagher SMS GM, South Africa, Mike Foley says the company has extensive experience and understanding of facilities management, including access control and security in the tertiary education sector.
"One of the biggest problems facing universities is managing student access - who goes where and when. This is relevant to both the tertiary campus and halls of residence or dormitories.
"Often, there are far more people living in student dormitories than permitted. Because keys are easily duplicated it is difficult to ascertain who is living there legitimately. This is a security risk for tertiary institutions because they do not know who is on the premises at any one time."
Around 50 Cardax security systems have been installed in higher learning establishments around the world by Gallagher SMS, a New Zealand-based company.
Foley says with the Cardax FT system, students can be issued with one access card which doubles as their student identification.
"Security levels can be layered with the Cardax FT system, employing higher security measures in certain areas. Students or staff may require a PIN (personal identification number) to access certain areas of the campus, or photographic comparisons may need to be established before access is granted. We recognise that people come and go from tertiary facilities at all times of the day and night so the buildings need to be 'open'. That does not have to mean they are not secure."
By securing the outside perimeter of a university, those who access the campus are immediately restricted, Foley says.
"Unfortunately tertiary institutes are often easy preying grounds for dangerous criminals. There are generally young women about, often working or moving around the campus alone. This is especially dangerous after dark.
"Universities around the world are now employing perimeter security solutions, such as the PowerFence - an electrified perimeter fence also produced by Gallagher SMS - not to keep their students in, but to keep unwanted visitors out."
Cardax FT can be linked with other security measures, such as perimeter fencing, video cameras, alarms and security personnel monitors. A breach in security can trigger a video camera to start recording at the incident site, as well as activate alarms. Reports are automatically transmitted to the security-monitoring centre.
Duress points can also be installed at strategic places around the campus, allowing those in danger immediate video and audio contact with the security control room.
As well as providing the platform for an integrated security system, Cardax FT also works as a student management programme. Cards can be used for library, photocopying and computer services, booking equipment, purchasing cafeteria items and even signing in at class or exams.
"Exam time is another major concern for tertiary providers," says Foley. "Is the right student really sitting the exam? With Cardax FT's photographic system, students can be visually identified as they badge their card to enter the exam room."
The system can be set up to work with current student registry databases, saving data entry time. Students can be automatically assigned access privileges depending on their courses.
Cardax FT can also work as an effective building management system, controlling intruder alarms, airconditioning, lighting and company recourses.
One of the first universities to employ Cardax FT technology, the University of New South Wales, in Australia, maintains that its security conscious approach is a drawcard for prospective students.
The institution's campus services manager, Alan Egan, says Cardax FT fits the university's philosophy of 'seamless and discreet' access control, providing a secure and safe environment 24 hours a day.
"The security of the campus is achieved by utilising various levels of card access," says Egan. Once inside the secure campus, access is provided to buildings, rooms within buildings and equipment within rooms.
"A good example is a lecturer allowing free access to a theatre while immobilising the space detection alarms and then activating the teaching aids from the smart lectern. This procedure is achieved from one access card - as is the reverse procedure to secure the theatre."
The University of New South Wales is one of the largest access control systems in the Southern Hemisphere, with 57 000 cardholders, 125 permanent buildings and 38 000 rooms.
Mike Foley says South African tertiary institutions should take a leaf out of the University of New South Wales' book.
"They need to step up the security mark before another family has to experience the anguish of losing a loved one."
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