Approaching Residence Hall Security Upgrades at Colleges and Universities

By Angelo Faenza, General Manager, PERSONA and Vice President of Campus Electronic Access Control Security Solutions, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions

As colleges and universities are faced with the challenges of securing their campuses, there is inevitably, and unfortunately, a need to prioritize activities based on the available budget. Though this may seem like an impossible choice, campuses need to ask themselves, ‘What is most important to protect?’.

The answer is, of course, the students - the core of the campus community. Students and their families trust the college or university to provide a safe and enriching environment in which they can learn and grow. As such, any discussion about security must begin with the residence halls. This is the place students call home in their time on campus, and it should offer the same sense of security as any other home.  

Important Steps

Because every campus is unique, there are no absolute, one-size-fits-all rules when it comes to upgrading security. There are, however, a number of guidelines used by many schools.

Step 1: Select the best partner

The first and often most critical step in your upgrade is partner selection. Be sure to do your research and ask the right questions. Request details on the company’s support offerings. Ask for examples of challenges encountered during the installation process and how they were addressed or resolved. Will the company work directly with the integrator to ensure that you can quickly overcome issues as they occur?

Step 2: Timing

The next area to consider is timing. It’s important to map out a comprehensive schedule. Whether you are upgrading all at once or in phases, scheduling has become more complex as colleges are increasingly using residence halls to house summer conference attendees. The long summer breaks that used to be perfect for maintenance and improvement projects are becoming a thing of the past. To make the most of the time you do have, schedule at the granular level, calculating how many locks will be installed per day. With proper communication and respect for students’ time and space, it is even feasible to upgrade security with students present in the resident halls.

Step 3: Future Proofing

Although you’re just starting, now is the time to think about the upgrade path. Technology changes rapidly, more so every day. Security upgrades are a major undertaking, so be sure to select a solution that can support your growth, changing needs and future technologies.

Step 4: Site Survey

Next, walk the buildings. Assuming every door is the same is a mistake that often throws an upgrade off course. A thorough walk through will alert you to a host of issues, particularly in older buildings, that may present serious challenges and even set your project back significantly if not accounted for properly.

Step 5: Build a Partnership

Finally, regardless of scope, remember that you are not only selecting a technology. You are choosing a manufacturer and an integrator to go through the process with you, embarking on what will hopefully be a long-term and productive partnership. It is critical that everyone share the same objectives and work together as a team whether things are going smoothly or, most importantly, if you encounter glitches along the way. It’s those challenges that will really showcase the entire team’s commitment to the success of your upgrade. Take your time, do your due diligence and choose wisely.

If you would like to know more, contact us.