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Education Security: you too can be creative...

A cause for concern.

Vandalism, arson, theft, bullying and aggressions on staff, child abduction or abuses…Ultimately, it is the responsibility of primary and secondary schools or universities to ensure the safety and security of staff, pupils, and visitors to their premises.  Damaged or stolen properties and sick-days taken by teachers after physical or mental ill-treatment by pupils or parents are also costing millions to the education sector every year.

But funding a security system is not always an easy matter, as financial supports vary from one establishment to the other and from one year to the other.

There are ways however of maintaining reasonable security without turning schools into fortresses, and at a cost which transforms security from a financial burden to pure benefits in loss prevention and safety.

Creative security solutions for a changing environment.

The precise balance is ultimately a matter for each school to decide in the light of its own circumstances and those of the surrounding community, the views of the parents and others.  But modern technologies offer a good platform on which to base an effective security system.

The progress made with IP based security, for example, means that schools investing in IP networks or IT technologies can stretch the pennies further by using them to support networked CCTV or centralised management of access control to IT rooms, student halls, or conference and lecture rooms.  As IP networks tend to not be fully utilised at night or weekends, it is then possible to use the available bandwidth to transmit or access CCTV footage, and effectively monitor schools out of hours without affecting the efficiency of the system during the day, when higher usage is expected.  Alarms can also be relayed over IP to trigger an immediate response from CCTV cameras, digital recording, and security staff.

An example of successful security: Siemens Building Technologies Security Products helps cut crime at Clare College

About Clare College

Founded in 1326, Clare College is the second oldest of Cambridge’s thirty-one colleges and occupies a large and diverse site developed over many centuries.  Of particular note are the buildings which surround the ‘Old Court’, a Grade I star-listed gem dating from the seventeenth century, and reputed to be have been designed by the great Indigo Jones.  With some 1,000 students, graduates, fellows and staff, Clare College is a busy and intensely populated site.

The Challenge

Despite its heritage, Clare College functions as a modern educational establishment and is far from immune to present-day pressures and problems.  Burglary was a major issue, with thefts being reported in increasing numbers from student rooms, as well as from sensitive areas within the college such as the computer suites, and also the libraries where rare and valuable books and manuscripts are stored.  Improving security needed a bespoke approach.  The College's sprawling site, with three main entrances, did not help the security situation, and any security hardware would have to be installed in a way that was sensitive to the College's age and architectural importance.

The Solution

To address these issues Head Porter, Peter Johnson, a former police superintendent and Cambridge Area Commander, decided to install Siemens Building Technologies Security Products access control technology at the college.  It has helped reduce crime at the site by an impressive 68 per cent.

Bewator access control equipment was linked to CCTV cameras via Bewator’s Entro software, an essential feature of which allows porters at all three of Clare’s lodges to view and control doors and gates throughout the site.  This allows the college to benefit from manning only one lodge at quiet times without compromising either security or user convenience.

In all, access control equipment was fitted to 36 doors throughout the site, including some within Old Court. 

Students and staff now all carry personalised security cards which, when held in the proximity of electronic readers, automatically release locks to open doors to authorised areas.  Sensitive areas such as the library, are accessible only to those who are authorised to enter them.  But despite the new security measures, users actually enjoy more freedom than previously as there is now no need for the night-time 'curfew' that had been imposed in an attempt to reduce unauthorised access at night. 

The slim-line design and flexibility of SBT hardware came into its own, enabling control points to be set up in even the most architecturally-sensitive areas.  And because all Bewator systems are designed to be expandable, Clare College can easily add new control points in response to particular security concerns.

Recent additions have included an automatic lock on the famous wrought iron gates at the main entrance to the college, and also at the Gallery Door entrance to the Great Hall.  The latter involved hiding a special ‘hands-free’ card reader behind wood paneling so as not to spoil the historic interior.

"Porters' Lodges are at the heart of College life and I felt it was vital we had a system that could be controlled from all three lodges at Clare College.  I am delighted with the performance of the Bewator equipment.  The hardware all works very reliably, and the Bewator Entro software that controls the whole system is very effective and easy to use.” Peter Johnson, former police superintendent and now Head Porter at Clare College.

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