How Intelligent Key Management Systems Transform Universities
In today's rapidly evolving security landscape, universities face numerous challenges when it comes to ensuring the safety of their campuses and the protection of valuable assets.
Claire Wheeler, Education Specialist and Market Development Executive at Traka highlights a critical aspect of campus security as effective key and equipment management. She presents the benefits of using intelligent security technology not only for key control but also for providing flexible solutions and supporting students with extra learning resources.
With sprawling campuses, diverse facilities, and a multitude of stakeholders, university campus estates must safeguard and maintain a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and contractors.
Security Challenges in UK Universities
Rapid advances in technology mean there is a plethora of potential solutions for each security challenge. but the fact the choice is so wide can, in itself, be a problem.
This is especially set against a resource-constrained environment, where educational managers face the daunting task of balancing competing priorities, limited budgets and tight timelines, alongside increasing pressures of compliance and health and safety.
Taking a back-to-basics approach, this is where the significance of adopting technologies and best practices to streamline key and equipment control processes and enhance accountability – all done with minimal disruption to facilities - can make a difference to safeguard a university’s assets and personnel.
Enhancing security through real-time transparency
Traditional key management systems typically involve physical key cabinets, manual record-keeping, and limited visibility into key usage. These systems often lack adequate security measures, leading to vulnerabilities, potential non-conformities and security breaches, alongside health and safety concerns.
Locating specific keys, often left in drawers, and monitoring their usage can be time-consuming and prone to errors. These challenges present the need for an advanced key management solution that addresses these issues and provides enhanced security and operational efficiency.
A Contracts and Business Services Manager at one top 10 UK University highlights, “Using a manual system means there is no control over keys being issued or returned. This can lead to unauthorised access to protected areas and health and safety and security risks for both students and staff.”
The same can be true for universities that support laptop loan services for students. A multitude of factors contributes to the demand for this service, such as the growing reliance on technology for academic endeavours and the need for equitable access to digital tools.
Use of efficient secure tech to enhance student learning
To meet this need, traditionally, universities must allocate personnel to manage and oversee the entire lending process. This involves tasks like inventory management, including the procurement, organisation, and maintenance of a substantial number of laptops.
Universities must establish efficient loan procedures, which entail administrative staff coordinating reservations, check-ins, and check-outs, as well as managing the necessary paperwork. Adequate technical support is also crucial, as the laptops need to be regularly updated, maintained, and repaired. Cont/d…
In a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a dedicated laptop loan service is based in its library facilities. As the Senior Manager (Data Centres) explains, the manual process was subject to intensive time resources on the staff who had to hand out and receive laptops from students and staff.
Saving Resources and Creating Seamless Operations
Intelligent key management and locker systems streamline each of these control processes, eliminating the need for traditional processing and manual record-keeping.
These systems offer centralised administration, allowing authorised personnel to assign, track, and revoke access to individual keys and keysets. Real-time visibility into key movements across the campus estate enables efficient key retrieval and reduces the time spent searching for keys.
The automation of key control processes minimises administrative burdens, empowering staff members to focus on their core responsibilities and enhancing operational efficiency. As a public research university identified, the difference with intelligent key management is that it “saves time that we no longer have to track people down for missing keys. If keys are not returned, their access is simply revoked.”
From a laptop loan service perspective, library staff can utilise their time for the benefit of student services and the system has been transformed to enable a self-service facility. There is also an enhanced tracking of loan laptops and reporting on usage, alongside an ability to identify faulty machines, that can be recorded as needed technical servicing and not used until the issues are resolved. Licencing requirements and cyber security can be closely controlled and managed remotely.
The operational benefits of intelligent security
Alongside the practical benefits, universities cite the operational benefits of intelligent security, and the ability of advanced tracking software to enable administrators to monitor and access keys remotely, and in real-time. Cont/d…
This feature saves significant time and effort that would otherwise be spent on searching for misplaced keys or manually documenting key usage.
As a university that is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the Complete University Guide and Guardian League Table suggests, there is also reduced footfall in the key room. Staff and contractors can be set up to access the cabinets remotely, removing the need to queue for access at peak times. They can then quickly gain their required access credentials and get on with their work.
Access can be made temporary for contractors and designated staff and there is a level of accountability to indicate unauthorised access or missing keys. This together with the detailed audit trail capability, recording who accesses which key and when creates a greater responsibility for the security of a university campus estate.
Key management systems have the capacity to integrate with contractor management software to ensure compliance with health and safety protocols, ensuring that keys are issued to only authorised contractors.
Flexible working and wellbeing
As one of the world’s top 100 universities highlights, the use of intelligent locker systems plays a vital role in supporting flexible working and student well-being.
It allows the specialist university to create a flexible study space that can be used as a computer classroom or seminar space as required. The ability to provide a choice promotes productivity and a positive learning or working environment for staff and students. Flexible working also has the benefit of saving space on campus – a valuable estate commodity.
Locker systems come equipped with features like individual compartments, charging capabilities and remote management options to ensure devices are ready for use whenever needed and are compliant and secure from potential malicious security breaches. Cont/d…
Remote management options, such as reservation systems or mobile applications, provide users with convenient access to available lockers and allow for enhanced tracking and monitoring of usage.
In summary, intelligent key and laptop locker management solutions offer universities a comprehensive set of tools to enhance security, improve operational efficiency, comply with H&S legislation and provide a positive student experience. Simple to install and integrate with building and contractor management systems means there is no disruption in setting up data transfers from a staff or student database.
The addition of audit control adds to the accountability and responsibility of all staff and students as they seek to enjoy the facilities on offer at their university. And by ensuring secure access control, automating management processes, and offering convenient storage solutions, these systems contribute to a safer, more efficient, and student-friendly environment.
Traka, a leading provider of intelligent key and equipment management solutions, is collaborating closely with universities to deliver customised and tailored solutions for their specific needs, and can also adapt and scale with evolving requirements.
With a deep understanding of the challenges faced by educational institutions, Traka works closely with university administrators to assess their requirements and design bespoke systems that optimise key and equipment management processes. By implementing Traka's advanced technology, universities can enjoy the benefits of streamlined operations, enhanced security, and improved student and staff experiences.
For further information please visit https://www.traka.com/global/en/solutions/sectors/education?utm_source=campus_estate_management