At their most basic level, key control systems are designed to securely protect keys in an electronic key cabinet - only to be released to authorized users based on pre-determined factors. At their most complex, key control systems are an integral piece of the larger security puzzle - allowing university departments of all types to manage campus security in a specific, highly integrated manner across the campus enterprise.   

The Morse Watchmans Campus illustrates how key control and asset management solutions can be applied across colleges and universities to facilitate heighted levels of security and safety.  

We invite you to tour the interactive Morse Watchmans Campus to see how our range of solutions meet the specific needs of various campus departments.

Just hover over and click the desired department for more information. 


Campus Security, Police, and Public Safety

On college and university campuses across the country, the role of the campus police is evolving. More and more university administrations are authorizing campus police officers to carry firearms in order to provide both a stronger deterrent and a more effective response to high-risk situations. Along with these changes comes the need to secure sidearms and ammunition when officers are off-duty. 

Morse Watchman’s automated asset management solutions are intelligent devices that can help improve operational readiness for campus officers. Weapons secured in the large tamper-proof lockers can be quickly and easily accessed by authorized personnel with all access activity automatically recorded for later investigations or for on-demand audits. The system is programmable to help ensure that stored weapons cannot be accessed by individuals outside of their regularly scheduled hours. Emails and text messages can be sent automatically to supervisory personnel if a weapon is not returned to the locker as scheduled.

Our asset management systems can also be configured with key modules in addition to the lockers, making them even more useful in a campus safety department. Keys for patrol and emergency vehicles can even be stored in additional key cabinets designed for fleet vehicles, which offer the same control and tracking features as the lockers. When these cabinets are networked, the keys can be returned to any key cabinet on campus, and the system will always know which cabinet they are in, who has them, or who has had them out. 

Facilities Management  

As the residential ‘keeper of the keys’ for universities, facility management teams experience longstanding challenges with managing physical keys across a college campus. Hundreds to thousands of physical keys can be in use with a college campus at one time, yet the loss or theft of a single key can create a serious security vulnerability. Beyond the concern of having a key fall into the wrong hands, the loss of a key can necessitate expensive refitting of locks with loss of one master key easily costing a university tens of thousands of dollars in re-keying.  

With a key access control system for universities, it is easy to find the specific key needed and limit the use of masters to authorized individuals. Keys for specific areas can be grouped on tamper-proof key rings,  with audit trails to ensure that the last person to remove a single key or keyring can always be identified. Custom key control locker modules also help keep employee’s mobile devices and laptops secure in various locations.  

Furthermore, students, teachers, administration, maintenance, and others all need access to different locations across campus, and it is costly and inconvenient when a member of the facilities team has to trek across campus with a master or spare key when a key goes missing. Key control systems help eliminate this problem, as quick access can be granted for specific keys, and all keys can be returned to any key cabinet located anywhere on the system. This not only reduces headaches for facilities teams, it further reduces the risk of additional keys going missing.  

On-Campus Housing 

On-campus student housing represents a large income source for universities while also being one of the biggest security concerns. With thousands of students living across multiple buildings, there are potentially thousands of risks relating to lost keys, inappropriately used staff keys, and improper key sharing. Such risks include vandalism, theft, harassment, or worse, all of which negatively impact public perception and student safety. All the reasons why university housing departments must ensure the security and accountability for the keys that control entry to student residences.   

Besides risk reduction, there are several additional reasons why it is important to control and track all of keys utilized in student housing. Student housing facilities require constant maintenance, often when students are away or in class. Contractors need temporary access to buildings when there is construction or other outside work being done. Key management gives localized access to contracted workers, such as plumbers or HVAC technicians, without giving access to the entire building. Should there be a fire, injury, or other emergency, a key is still the best way for first responders to gain entry. Key control systems help manage all of these situations safely, with the capacity to manage up to 18,000 keys and 10,000 users per site. 

And while many historical universities still largely rely on traditional locks and keys to secure individual rooms, many universities have opted to upgrade to card-enabled access control systems. The good news is, innovative key control solutions can be designed to handle traditional keys, proximity cards, or both.  


University athletic departments are responsible for ensuring the security of collegiate athletes, coaches, trainers, and fans. From expansive stadiums to intimate training and locker rooms, there are a variety of athletic facilities that could benefit from a reliable key control solution to mitigate risks and liabilities while protecting people, property, and assets.   

For example, key management systems help to manage tiered and varied access, which may change as different types of events take place at a stadium, arena, or field. A key control system can easily be configured and reconfigured by security personnel to give temporary access, such as to VIPs or coaching staff while maintaining security in the rest of the sporting facility by ensuring that staff requiring specific access are only granted access to those areas (e.g., those with keys to the practice fields being restricted from the concessions stands, and vice versa).  

Asset management solutions are also essential to athletic departments, as training and equipment is becoming more advanced and expensive. As mobile devices become more prevalent in athletics, from on field game plans to boardroom displays, protecting such devices becomes all the more essential. Asset management systems can help to ensure that small mobile devices, including tablets and laptops, are stored securely when not in use. 


Universities are like small cities unto themselves, which necessitate internal transportation departments that oversee university busses, staff vehicles, shuttles, equipment transport vans, and fleet vehicles. Some university fleet management departments even oversee rental cars, boats, tractor trailers, and more. Working with and managing large numbers of vehicles creates a unique set of challenges for a university. This includes working with drivers, service technicians, and internal management to provide each with the tools, wheels, and information they need in a timely manner.  

Key control systems secure and protect the keys to any and all university vehicles. They make it easy to get data on the current status of any bus, shuttle, or other vehicle at any time. Users can see what employee is using which vehicle now, and who was using it on the date it was tagged as running a red light. Users can also check at any time which vehicles are available for use, where they are, and where their keys are located. With key management systems, security and administrators can be assured that only authorized drivers take out approved vehicles, with alerts being issued when important vehicle keys are removed. 

Fleet management systems further ensure that each campus vehicle (or other mode of transportation) is correctly utilized within the university. For example, intuitive key reservation guarantees that a twelve-seater school bus will be available for the ten-member debate team and will not already be in use by the five-person swim team. Policies can be customized to enable automatic allocation of a vehicle for each driver. Configure settings by lowest mileage, most fuel, priority, first in/first out, and more. Each driver need only enter their code and the key for their allocated vehicle will be released to them. 

Health Services  

While it is not uncommon for universities to have their own student health services center, some universities are dedicated entirely to teaching medical sciences. Keeping track of keys in either type of facility is one of the most important security initiatives for universities. This is because healthcare operations are highly regulated, housing expensive equipment, sensitive patient information, and controlled substances. Key control and asset management deployed in these environments assist in minimizing risk related to theft, insider threats, and more.  

It is critical to protect controlled substances and medications from theft. Key management systems help protect access to medicine storage and dispensing areas while maintaining accurate records of who had access and when. Key management systems also make it simple to track which individuals have accessed a drug dispensary or storage area and can send notifications when a restricted substance is accessed, to provide administrators with a record of access and alert them instantly if an attempt is made to take controlled substances, access private information, or utilize expensive equipment. 

Asset management solutions can also be used to store smaller pieces of equipment and small amounts of medications. Furthermore, such solutions allow doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff to secure belongings, both personal and company-owned, before entering sterile areas. Healthcare facilities can keep track of crucial mobile equipment by installing asset management to augment their existing storage systems.  


University sciences are large internal departments with each specialized study different than the next. These departments produce critical research, utilize sensitive, sometimes volatile, equipment, and house significant financial investments. Protecting these assets is therefore more than just a matter of lab security, but one of public health and safety. It is not uncommon for students and faculty to protect their research under lock and key, and rightfully so.  

Unfortunately, many science departments rely on manual procedures for signing keys in and out, making it impossible to determine with certainty who is using a key and where it is. Conversely, key control systems are programmed to record usage activity for each user by access code, time, and date and to provide daily audit reports. These reports can then be used to monitor which keys have been returned as scheduled and which keys are still out or overdue. This information assists administrators in ensuring the return of all keys and eliminates guesswork when tracking lost or overdue keys. 

Science departments must also accommodate personnel and students working varied schedules and odd hours. This is why it is crucial that administrators be able to control and made aware of who has access to a building or area at any given time. For example, a visiting science professor might need to be able to enter a laboratory with expensive, hazardous equipment – and administrators will want to ensure that this access is given only to that one professor and not to all visiting professors across the board. With smart key control solutions, security personnel can be aware at all times of who has keys to what locations and can change permissions as needed. 

Fine Arts 

Art, music, and theatre buildings are full of valuable instruments, supplies and resources, and various storage rooms for such assets. Unfortunately, these items are valuable to not only the artists that use them, but to thieves as well. It therefore makes sense to protect the keys charged with securing such assets.  

Key control systems make it easy by storing keys in a tamper-proof electronic key cabinet and releasing assigned keys only to users with the proper authorization code (either fingerprint identification or numerical code). Key control systems automatically record the access history of each key, including user, date and time of key access/return. The illuminated key slots make accessing and returning keys simple and the system readily accommodates both hard keys and plastic key cards. When keys are not returned when scheduled, e-mail alerts can be sent to administrators to allow quick action. 

Asset management solutions also offer a reliable place for students and faculty to store their personal belongings while practicing or performing. By installing asset management systems, artists of all types can ensure that their belongings are only accessed by themselves or other permitted users, and they are notified if other access is attempted. Asset lockers that are part of a key control system can be managed as efficiently as keys and are infinitely scalable.   

Financial Services/ Bursar’s Office 

Bursar’s offices work to ensure financial integrity in the management of university funds. There are many keys in use on a daily basis in a bursar’s office, including include keys for cash drawers, safe rooms, offices, server closets, and more. By turning every key into a data point, key control systems ensure that staff are working ethically, safely, and transparently. Electronic key cabinets can only be opened by users with the proper authorization code (biometrics or PIN), and cannot be manipulated or easily tampered with. Security management can establish permission levels for every user immediately make any necessary changes. The forensic trail produced by key control systems (who took out a key, where, when, etc.) further provides invaluable evidence in the event of an incident.  Knowing who had possession of a particular key and when is critical information when investigating allegations of misconduct.  

Key control is also essential when dealing with financial services as it relates to cybersecurity. Gaining physical access to a server room or laptop used by the bursar’s office could have the same or worse destructive consequences experienced from a cyber-attack, including the theft of data, IP theft, extortion, disrupted business operations, costly compliance infractions, etc. Simply stealing a server, laptop or copying data onto a portable drive produces the same damaging results. Key control and access management solutions provide another layer of security that brings cyber-security to the physical realm.  

Student Union 

Many consider the student union to be the heart of a university. It brings students, faculty, and prospective students together, providing them with a strong sense of community. Today’s student union buildings are large and diverse, housing bookstores, food vendors, shops, offices, meeting rooms, and more. Given their importance on campus and variety of facilities within, student unions also require a way to control and manage the keys to some of their most crucial assets.  

Student unions are unique as there is a significant level of turnover within the leadership ranks. Students appoint new leaders while others graduate, meaning those managing keys to various areas of the student union building are always changing. Key control systems accommodate these changes while reducing the risk of missing keys. Access to certain keys can be revoked or granted when and where required. And with “notes” functionality, it can be required that if any campus key is permanently removed from the electronic key cabinet, the transaction must be documented.  

Key control solutions are also ideal for granting localized access, giving students or faculty access only to areas required only for the period of time they will be there and nothing more. In this way, a meeting room key intended for use by the chess club cannot be accessed by anyone else during specified hours. This goes for keys and/or access cards related to storage rooms, cash boxes, vendor facilities, lockers, and more.  


University grounds departments are charged with tending to the beautification and maintenance of a university’s campus. Although it is hard to imagine keeping an outdoor landscape under lock and key, university groundskeepers require tools, equipment, and vehicles that need protecting.  

While landscaping tools and equipment are often locked behind a series of closed doors or storage facilities, if the key to one of these areas is accessible to all employees, then there is no way to accurately determine who accessed the equipment and when and when. Key control for the grounds department addresses such insider threats by providing audit capabilities that tracks a key’s removal and return to the key cabinet with both time and user specifications. Furthermore, individual keys can be tracked, so lost and misplaced keys become a thing of the past. 

Fleet management solutions also help groundkeepers manage and safeguard the vehicles utilized in day-to-day activities. From the trucks utilized to transport plants to ride-on mowers and snowplows, fleet management solutions enable control of when the vehicles are deployed, when they are returned, and who is authorized to drive them. The system can also restrict access to the vehicles to certain times of the day and limit certain users to specific vehicles. The result is a more secure, efficient fleet that is critical to the operations of all universities.  



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The Morse Watchmans Campus: Reimagining Key Control for Universities – Read More

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Case Study:
KeyWatcher® System Enables Customized Application for University of California San Francisco  Read More