South African campuses facing protests, violence and arson are prime deployments
Physical security is a primary concern for and college campus either at home or abroad, but in countries like South Africa where physical security threats to campus take a variety of forms, access control is paramount.
Of the many access control tools available to institutions is biometrics-based access control and authentication. Now cementing itself as a viable option in the U.S. for access to select campus facilities like dining halls, biometric access can help universities abroad to improve on-premise security, as well as help facilitate student management systems.
At least that’s the claim from Nicolas Garcia, senior manager at Morpho South Africa, in a recent interview with ITWeb. In South Africa, security is a top priority on campus where in recent months protests, violence, arson and other concerns have posed risks to student safety and campus property.
After recent student protests at the University of Johannesburg, some higher education institutions in the country have spent as much as 2 million Rand, or roughly $147,000, per month on additional security measures.
“The biggest threat to tertiary intuitions today is controlling access to unknown individuals,” Garcia says. “To curb the risk of attacks and protests instigated by outsiders, institutions must know who accesses the campus, at what time, and even where they are and when they leave.”
Card access is a component of physical security in the country, but Linda Glieman, general manager of client services at Morpho partner company Impro Technologies, says that may not be enough, citing some familiar challenges. “The problem with traditional card access is that anyone carrying that card is able to enter the campus. Students lose their cards and often go for days without reporting it lost or needing to access the facility, which creates a security risk.”
In addition to facilitating access control, biometric authentication could also open opportunities for institutions to build on other campus systems beyond security, including payments and exam control.
Exam entrance control is still in its infancy when it comes to biometrics, but educational institutions are starting to implement solutions to control access to these venues, says Impro’s Glieman. “The problem historically has been that these are not fixed venues and therefore installing hardware in the venue for exam purposes was not practical, speed of access is another barrier to adopting a controlled solution.”
One possible solution to this issue going forward is the introduction of mobile biometric readers and tablets, says Glieman. But to deliver the best value and security to campuses, she concedes that biometrics systems must be world class.
In particular Glieman implores campuses considering a biometric solution to select a supplier that has extensive experience and offers reliable, accurate results. Using a lower grade supplier could pose a risk to a campus’ security system.
The access control system underpinning the biometric solution is also a key consideration. Integration with the university student management systems is a critical factor to ensure success in managing who has access to the facility, Glieman adds.