University campus buildings and student accommodation facilities are complex infrastructures and, with so many security requirements, it can be difficult to keep on top of them and the challenges they impose. Andrew Shaw, architectural consultant for Allegion UK, discusses how to ensure the security and safety of the students of today and tomorrow.

Many UK universities treat safety and security as a feature hard-wired into their systems, as young adults and their parents are citing safety when it comes to important factors when choosing a university. It’s listed in prospectuses and on university websites to ensure that current and prospective students, staff and parents alike have a clear idea of the safety and security procedures in place.

Security teams must consider high-traffic areas, access for all, student turnover, fire safety measures, security of people and belongings

Eliminating the possibility of crimes

Student accommodation and campus facilities can pose many security challenges, and with the high turnover of students, keeping track of access is important. This not only allows the responsible persons to keep everything running smoothly and safely, it also helps to eliminate the possibility of certain crimes.

Security teams must consider high-traffic areas, access for all, student turnover, fire safety measures, security of people and belongings, as well as efficient and smooth people movement.

Choosing the right doors and door hardware

Every October, universities must ensure that everything – from individual student data records to premises refurbishment and site safety – is in place to welcome new and returning students, staff and visitors. This means that throughout the academic year as well as over the summer and other holidays, universities have a constant obligation to keep safety and security standards high.

It’s important to give the appropriate thought to which doors and door hardware are suitable to specific requirements, to maximise security and, in-turn, student safety and wellbeing

In student accommodation, for instance, students may be living there for approximately eight months of the academic year. They’ll then vacate the premises, which are readied for the next intake of students. Student accommodation has also been previously criticised for poor design, especially when it comes to fire safety and general security.

With that in mind, it’s important to give the appropriate thought to which doors and door hardware are suitable to specific requirements, to maximise security and, in-turn, student safety and wellbeing. In campus facilities, too, the buildings must cater to the ebb and flow of those entering and exiting premises. Therefore, doors and door hardware must facilitate access and egress, particularly in high-traffic areas.

Combining mechanical locks with electronic access control

When it comes to university accommodation, without a key handover strategy in place, how can universities be sure their students have adequate access? For example, some access control systems allow tracking of who accesses and exits a premise. They also easily issue and retract credentials, allowing someone access as easily as it can be taken away.

Conversely, traditional mechanical locks can be beneficial both as a stand-alone solution and as a combination with electronic access control. Ultimately, all design aspects of a particular building must be considered before arriving at a product choice. The variety of choice available means universities can opt for hardware that suits their needs, even when faced with budgeting pressures.

Every university campus has both exterior and interior sections, so implementing an adequate lockdown plan must include both of these layers

Implementing effective lockdown strategy

The Complete University Guide states that an estimated one-third of the UK’s student body becomes a victim of crime (mainly theft and burglary). When you also consider the vast number of new students moving away from home to university, it’s easy to understand how their lack of knowledge about a certain area may make them susceptible to victimisation.

One focus for optimising security in university facilities and accommodation is to put in place an effective lockdown strategy. Every university campus has both exterior and interior sections, so implementing an adequate lockdown plan must include both of these layers.

On top of this, it can be easy to make the mistake of carrying out dangerous or ineffective methods without recognising them as so. For example, using tape, magnets or other barricades on a door could not only invite security risks but is also a breach of fire safety regulations.

Doors and door hardware that facilitate maximum egress can help to improve evacuation and prevent unnecessary stagnation of movement

Fire safety protocols

A sufficient evacuation plan as well as high-quality doors and door hardware can help to keep students and staff safe. In the event of a fire, students and staff must be clear on what is expected of them to ensure a smooth and effective evacuation.

Doors and door hardware that facilitate maximum egress can help to improve evacuation and prevent unnecessary stagnation of movement. Specifically, hold-open devices are linked up to the fire alarm so that in the event of a fire, the doors release immediately and then return to a closed position. Similarly, exit devices (such as panic bars or emergency exit devices) open without keys and are easily accessible, to allow a functional exit if needed.

Selecting the right solution for university security

When it comes to university security, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The age of the buildings, credential platform and protocols, budget and long-term security strategy must be considered.

A lack of product knowledge, older buildings and too much choice can all lead to a reluctance to upgrade old systems or even the wrong selection of products. With effective lockdowns and locking systems being of high importance, it’s important to recognise the industry fallacies and steer clear from the risks posed by ‘value engineering’. Wherever you are on the continuum, there are solutions fit for your specific requirements.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Embracing digital transformation in the security industry
Embracing digital transformation in the security industry

Many industries are, to a greater or lesser extent, in the throes of digital transformation. As with any change programme, digital transformation efforts often under-perform against expectations. Yet, the number of digital transformation programmes continue to increase, as commercial pressures intensify. As security professionals we need to embrace our role in digital transformation, as security is everybody’s business. For all those people weary of hearing about digital transformation and believe it’s a business fad, consider your own behaviours. If you use a smartphone to search, find, order, buy, message, watch, learn, play, bank, pay, enter, exit, navigate, communicate and more then you are part of the reason that digital transformation is a commercial necessity. The way we live our lives has changed significantly over the past twenty years and this needs to be reflected into how we rethink the way we do business. Digital transformation is about more than technology, it allows people to solve their traditional problems in new and better ways than before. Better can mean faster, at lower cost, using fewer resources, easier to maintain, more compliant and/or easier to report insights. IoT, criminal activity and security  The number of internet connected devices worldwide is increasing at an exponential rate; by the end of 2025 there are expected to be 75.44 billion. Internet of Things (IoT) means digital transformation converges physical and digital for security professionals. Criminals use smarter digital tools such as malware, drones, key cloners, signal readers and more, which impact both physical and cybersecurity. To counter this, digital transformation provides security professionals with access As security professionals we need to embrace our role in digital transformation, as security is everybody’s businessto valuable actionable insights to identify and deter threats to people and assets. All transformation starts with an idea generated by people and ends with people experiencing the output. Therefore, digital transformation starts and ends with people. To ensure a solid foundation to any digital transformation agenda, people need to have a clear purpose to engage. This is where security leaders can inspire their colleagues with a laudable purpose of embracing disruption at the same time as focusing on safeguarding people and assets. Non-security colleagues should understand that security risks are advancing at a faster pace than enterprises can adapt. As a security leader, you are advocating a movement where your colleagues adopt relevant enterprise security risk management practices in their daily thinking and working. The message is clear that digital transformation presents abundant opportunities and these need to be evaluated alongside the proliferating security threats that can become a business continuity failure. Security professionals and digital influence  The number of internet connected devices worldwide is increasing at an exponential rate; by the end of 2025 there are expected to be 75.44 billionSecurity professionals can influence digital transformation success by translating an enterprise’s strategy into secure operational reality. The security narrative should emphasise the people side of digital transformation and how technology can act as an enabler of a safe and secure experience, both for employees and customers. Operationally, digital transformation is about agility, adaptability and navigating uncertainty. Old ways of thinking and working will be blockers to transformation, so security leaders ought to identify the rapid enablers of a ‘secure’ digital transformation. Better people, processes and overall technology People generally don’t want more in their lives, they want better. Better people. Better data. Better technology. Better processes. Digital transformation creates significant ‘better’ benefits for security: For example, connected (IoT) sensors, video analytics at the edge and machine learning identify threats faster; workflow technologies and automation detect, investigate and remediate routine responses; cloud provides many benefits such as agility, scale and mobility; and, smartphones/digital devices provide real-time communication and collaboration. Tackling all the ‘better’ needs within a security approach is necessary – focusing on the prioritised commercial needs first. Think about how to drive radical simplification into digital transformation agendas to ensure complexity doesn’t create too many unmanageable risks. Designing enterprise security risk management into the business operating model will facilitate colleagues to be empowered for safe and secure change. Communicating security successes and breaches with commercial impact insights in a timely and concise manner across the enterprise will prove the value of active security engagement throughout digital transformation programmes. Transforming the world Digital technology is transforming the world around us, in a way that impacts every area of security. Security professionals are now businesspeople and technologists, in addition to their traditional security remits. Embracing this impacts security recruitment, training and employee engagement, within the security team and with non-security colleagues. Without a doubt, security professionals are integral to digital transformation programmes.

What are the security challenges of protecting utilities?
What are the security challenges of protecting utilities?

Utilities are an important element of critical infrastructure and, as such, must be protected to ensure that the daily lives of millions of people continue without disruption. Protecting utilities presents a unique range of challenges, whether one considers the electrical grid or telecommunications networks, the local water supply or oil and gas lines. Security technologies contribute to protecting these diverse components, but it’s not an easy job. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of protecting utilities?

Q&A: how the ‘secret service of Hollywood’ protects celebrities
Q&A: how the ‘secret service of Hollywood’ protects celebrities

At a major music festival, a fan in the crowd aggressively leapt over a barricade to approach a famous artist. Personnel from Force Protection Agency immediately implemented extrication protocol to shield the artist from physical harm, quickly reversed course and calmly led the client away from the threat. Force Protection Agency (FPA) personnel intentionally did not engage the threatening fan in any way, as local venue security personnel were present and tasked with apprehending the rogue fan. FPA’s efforts were directed expressly toward the protection of the client, avoiding unnecessary escalation or complications and minimising physical, visual, and legal exposure. Dedicated to the safety of clients Force Protection Agency is a unique, elite-level agency inspired by a vision for excellence and innovation Specialising in protecting celebrities and high-net-worth individuals, Force Protection Agency is a unique, elite-level agency inspired by a vision for excellence and innovation, and dedicated to the safety and success of clients. The agency was formed in 2017 by Russell Stuart, a California State Guard officer and security and entertainment industry veteran. The agency is the culmination of 20 years of experience in the fields of security, military, emergency management, logistics and technology, media and entertainment, and celebrity management. We interviewed Russell Stuart, Founder and CEO of Force Protection Agency (FPA), which has been called “the Secret Service of Hollywood,” for his insights into providing security for celebrities. Q: What unique need in the marketplace do you seek to serve, and how are you qualified to serve it? Stuart: The needs of celebrity and high-net-worth clients are complex and constantly changing. When dealing with a high-profile individual, discretion is paramount, extensive communication is required, and adaptation is ongoing. A critical objective is anticipating and planning for all types of potential negative scenarios and preventing them from even starting, all while not disrupting the normal course of operation of the client's day or their business. Force Protection Agency is poised to serve these needs by innovating and intelligently managing the planning, procedures, and personnel used in every facet of protecting the client’s interests and achieving their objectives. Q: What is the typical level of "professionalism" among bodyguards and security professionals that protect celebrities? Why does professionalism matter, and how do you differentiate yourself on this point? Stuart: Professionalism is an overall way of approaching everything to do with the business, from recruiting, to training, to making sure the right agent is with the right client. Nothing matters more; polish and precision are not only critical to mission success, but also support the comprehensive best interest of the client while preventing costly collateral damage and additional negative consequences. True “professional protective services" is intelligent strength and proper execution, not emotional or reactionary violence. Unfortunately, the latter is frequent among many celebrity bodyguards, and often incurs extremely expensive and even dangerous repercussions. Q: Your company has been described as "the Secret Service of Hollywood." How true is that comparison, and how does your work differ from (e.g.) protecting the President? Force Protection Agency prides itself on providing its services with discretion, precision, and poise Stuart: Totally true, and for this reason: the keys to success in protection are prioritization, and planning. Most people fail to even recognise the first, negating any level of effort given to the second. Establishing the true needs and the correct priority of objectives for each individual client and situation, and firmly committing to these without deviation, are what distinguishes both government secret services and Force Protection Agency from the vast majority of general security firms. Also, the term “secret service” implies an inconspicuous yet professional approach, and Force Protection Agency prides itself on providing its services with discretion, precision, and poise. Q: What is the biggest challenge of protecting celebrities? Stuart: The very nature of celebrity is visibility and access, which always increases risk. The challenge of protecting a high-profile individual is facilitating that accessibility in a strategic and controlled manner while mitigating risk factors. A client’s personal desires and preferences can often conflict with a lowest risk scenario, so careful consideration and thorough preparation are essential, along with continual communication. Q: How does the approach to protection change from one celebrity (client) to another? What variables impact how you do your job? Stuart: The approach is largely determined by the client’s specific needs, requests and objectives. The circumstances of a client's activities, location, and other associated entities can vastly disrupt operation activities. A client may prefer a more or less obvious security presence, which can impact the quantity and proximity of personnel. Force Protection Agency coordinates extensively with numerous federal, state, and municipal government agencies, which also have a variety of influence depending on the particular locations involved and the specific client activities being engaged in.  Q: Are all your clients celebrities or what other types of "executives" do you protect – and, if so, how are those jobs different? Stuart: Force Protection Agency provides protective services for a wide range of clients, from the world’s most notable superstars to corporate executives and government representatives. We also provide private investigation services for a vast variety of clientele. Force Protection Agency creates customised solutions that surpass each individual client’s needs and circumstances. The differences between protecting a major celebrity or top business executive can be quite different or exactly the same. Although potentially not as well known in popular culture, some top CEOs have a net worth well above many famous celebrities and their security needs must reflect their success. Q: What is the role of technology in protecting famous people (including drones)? Technology is crucial to the success of security operations Stuart: Technology is crucial to the success of security operations and brings a tremendous advantage to those equipped with the best technological resources and the skills required to maximise their capabilities. It affects equipment such as communication and surveillance devices like drones, cameras, radios, detection/tracking devices, GPS, defensive weapons, protective equipment, and more. Technology also brings immense capabilities to strategic planning and logistical operations through the power of data management and is another aspect of Force Protection Agency operation that sets us apart from the competition. Q: What additional technology tools would be helpful in your work (i.e., a “technology wish list”)? Stuart: The rapidly growing and evolving realm of social media is a massive digital battlefield littered with current and potential future threats and adversaries. Most mass shooters as of late have left a trail of disturbing posts and comments across social media platforms and chat rooms that telegraphed their disturbing mindset and future attacks. A tool that could manage an intelligent search for such threats and generate additional intel through a continuous scan of all available relevant data from social media sources would be extremely useful and could potentially save many lives. Q: Anything you wish to add? Stuart: Delivering consistent excellence in protection and security is both a vital need and a tremendous responsibility. Force Protection Agency is proud of their unwavering commitment to “Defend, Enforce, Assist” and stands ready to secure and satisfy each and every client, and to preserve the life and liberty of our nation and the world.