Key Control and Management As a Best Practice for Campus Security

Tim Purpura Mar 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM
Tim Purpura

By Fernando Pires – VP, Sales and Marketing – Morse Watchmans

As part of the federally mandated Clery Act, by October 1 of each year post-secondary educational institutions must publish and distribute their Annual Campus Security Report to current and prospective students and employees. This report is required to provide crime statistics for the prior three years, policy statements regarding various safety and security measures, campus crime prevention program descriptions and procedures to be followed in the investigation and prosecution of alleged sex offenses.

Key Control for Improved Security

One of the most practical and functional among the measures available to campus security for improving safety and security is the implementation of a key control and management system. In addition to providing improved building security and minimizing the potential for loss or theft of property, key control and management can be administered in a manner that balances security requirements and the need for public access.

Key control and management systems are designed to release keys only to authorized users and to record all transactions. The user has the ability to set their own key control policies to specify which individuals may be authorized to access keys and when and for what periods of time in order to conduct their work. Key control policies, usually determined by campus administration and/or security, are implemented through the use of key control software available with a good key control system.

Because most facilities including college campuses will continue to rely on mechanical keys, a secure method to manage access to building and office keys is necessary to help ensure their safekeeping. The alternative is a situation where campus police do not know who has keys, which buildings are vulnerable to unauthorized entry or which offices may have been entered and when. However, new key management technology can augment the legacy mechanical keys and deliver an integrated state of the art solution that can be tailored to a school’s needs.

Understanding the Technology.

With a secure key control system, keys are stored in a computerized cabinet and can be accessed only by authorized individuals with an approved user code, an access identification card or a pre-registered biometric fingerprint. Each individual key is secured to a locking mechanism with built-in memory chip, and the data from the chip is recorded when a key is removed or inserted into a key slot. Users can only access keys for which they have an authorized user code and most systems allow keys to be returned to any location in the box.

For campuses with high volumes of keys, a computerized storing and tracking system is not only more efficient than a key box and manual tracking system, it also vastly improves the security of the facility. Functionality such as on-line monitoring, updating and reporting can also add to a system’s efficiency. At any time, security management can view who currently has keys out or who has had keys out and when. And when keys are not returned as scheduled, e-mail alerts can be sent to security management to allow quick action.

New systems available today also offer larger modules or lockers for securing valuables such as cell phones, computers and weapons. A good system should be constructed of stainless steel and complemented by an on-board alarm system that will sound if the unit is tampered with or if incorrect codes are repeatedly entered.

Graduating to Larger & More Integrated Systems

The capability to integrate a key control and management system with other physical security measures adds tremendous value and allows best of breed solutions to be implemented without costly upgrades or overhauls. For example, when a building is secured with an access control system, the access cards can also be stored and secured in a key locker, using the same key locking mechanisms for tracking and auditing. And if someone tries to leave the building without returning an item taken from a key locker, an alert can be sent to campus security.

Cost effective, modular key control systems can be located throughout a campus facility and are easily added to as needs grow or change. The limitless configurations allow the key management system to be scaled up as needs expand and smart designs help to reduce wall space while providing easier access.

The implementation of a key control and management system is an effective way to enhance campus security and can help address response to the Clery Act.