Sensitive Sites and Infrastructures

Schools: Cutting extra maintenance costs with effective systems of access control

Every day in Italy, at least one act of vandalism takes place at a school, leading to extra maintenance costs that can run into the tens of thousands of euros. But reducing the incidence of damage to people and structures, and enhancing the quality of service is simpler than it seems, provided one key condition is met: access points must be adequately controlled.

Damage and theft constitute one of the major extraordinary maintenance costs for schools, and waste resources that could otherwise be put to much better use. Schools are exposed to two specific systemic risks:

  • Internal vandalism:
    • Damage to the insides of buildings
    • Damage to facilities (multimedia screens, laboratory apparatus, fitness equipment ...)
    • Deliberate tampering with installed systems
    • The theft of belongings
  • External vandalism:
    • The smashing of windows and glass partitions
    • The deliberate destruction of furnishings and materials
    • The unauthorized use of areas inside the premises
    • The theft of belongings.

While vandalism can also, though not necessarily, cause reputational harm, its economic harm is undeniable and can be substantial:

  • The costs of repurchasing structural elements (doors, locks, windows and partitions)
  • The costs of repurchasing educational materials, teaching tools, and furnishings and fittings
  • The cost of extra servicing, repairs and extraordinary maintenance
  • Extra cleaning costs.

Extraordinary costs of this kind are unfortunately frequent, but can be avoided by preventing the acts of delinquency that are their cause. A key, easy-to-use, and yet rarely adopted solution is the installation of an effective system of access control and management.

An effective system of access control and management should respect the “4+4” rule.

A system of access control and management for school premises will only be workable if it fulfils four conditions:

  1. Ease of use: System information needs to be readily available without necessitating too many operations at the control interface. The ideal instrument for retrieving basic data (names and surnames, the number of children present in the areas being monitored, the entry points in use, the timetables for authorized passage through entry/exit points) should be a tablet or an app.
  2. Speed of use: As pupils have little time to get in and out of school, their arrivals and departures need to be monitored without causing overcrowding. It is therefore advisable to install turnstiles with motorized arms to encourage fluidity in the throughput of pupils, especially those on their way in.
  3. Robust but not obstructive: Children - and teens especially - are often reluctant to contain their exuberance, especially when moving in groups. Rather than external sensors/readers, preference should be given to integrated sensors, which are more practical and less subject to wear and tear.
  4. Economical: School budgets are often in the red. It takes experience in planning and design to come up with the most suitable solution: one that balances considerations of cost with effectiveness.

... Once again, there are four guidelines to be followed:

  1. Precision in calibrating the installations. Jostling and disorderly lines are a matter of course in any school. In order to prevent falls or accidents, it is of fundamental importance to calibrate precisely the opposing force of the turnstile arm. Precision is also needed in setting the sensitivity of the sensors for the detection of barrier-jumping and unauthorized entry attempts.
  1. Invisible security. The school must not be turned into a prison: Generally, full-height turnstiles are not necessary. To protect against the risk of the theft of computers from a laboratory, for example, all that is needed is a badge reader. The secret is integration, and when determining the level of control, the choice should always favour the most easily integrated devices, such as security cameras.
  1. Differentiated access. The entry and exit points should be differentiated according to the type of traffic (pedestrian or vehicular). But it is also important to verify, for instance, whether administrative staff will use a single building pass (badge) and a single security point both to gain admittance for their car and to clock on and off for work.
  1. Safety first. Particular attention must also be given to matters of safety: Emergency vehicles must be able to gain admittance to the school at any time of day or night. Accordingly, from the design stage, the plans must include a reserved entry gate for emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines.

For more information….

Came Project Department
Tel +39 0422 494512

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