A modern access control system can be hosted on a campus network, allowing it to integrate with other systems to produce a more effective and efficient security response.

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Digital locks are making headway in higher education.

Many campus police departments are stretched thin dealing with crimes ranging from burglary to sexual assault, leaving them the resources to act only after a crime as been reported.

Fortunately, while most of the nation’s higher education campuses are safe, crime is still an everyday occurrence at many colleges and universities.

According to the most recent FBI statistics, 92,695 crimes were reported to college and university police in 2010. Of those, 97 percent were crimes against property. Losses can range from valuable lab or electronic equipment to personal items belonging to students, faculty and staff.

Most burglars are by nature opportunistic and look for easy targets that limit their time and risk of being caught. They look for unlocked or propped open doors to make a quick entry.

This points out the need for classrooms, offices and other common areas to be locked when not in use. And it’s vital to keep dormitory entries always locked with unmonitored access reserved only for residents.

Standard key locks can do the job, but come with significant shortcomings. If keys are lost or stolen, locks need to be rekeyed — an expensive and time-consuming expense. Tumbler locks can be picked and are vulnerable to a process known as “lock bumping” that can open most doors in seconds.

New technology is making the use of keys even more risky. A smartphone app now creates a digital version of keys that can be easily copied by any locksmith. A lost or stolen phone with this app could make campus keys available to criminals.

And two students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently showed that with as little information as a photograph of a high-security key hanging on an officer’s belt they can produce a perfect, low-cost copy using a 3-D printer.

Just one copied or stolen security key would give a criminal easy access to virtually an entire campus. The better alternative is switching to digital locks, using card keys and electronic readers controlled by a campus-wide access control system.


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