Asset Protection: The Unstudied Subject at Universities

 While the issue of personal security retains a high profile across universities in the United States, there is another subject that hasn’t gained quite as much attention from administrators, but is important to a well-run and safer campus. It takes a back seat because it’s not a high profile consideration for most schools – asset protection. Most of the time they are write offs or a cost of doing business; that is until a new CFO or Manager takes over and looks at things with a fresh set of eyes and realizes they are spending a significant amount of dollars replacing or repairing assets every month. That is assuming you even know what’s missing…“you can’t measure what you don’t manage” If you say the words “asset protection” to a facilities director, that individual may think of the money put into building a new football field or research facility, and the importance of those facilities to selling the university to prospective students. A football field can be vandalized or equipment stolen from the locker rooms and materials can mysteriously disappear from important research projects. The reality is, internal theft takes place at college campuses across the U.S. every day, just like in casinos, retail stores, hospitals or liquor stores. That’s why many of these businesses establish internal security controls to prevent theft by employees and capture or deter bad behavior. Theft is not the only issue administrators should pay attention to though. An accident could occur to a university vehicle, even an inadvertent one, and when it is returned, the employee might not report it (accidently or otherwise). How does the fleet staff figure out what happened and properly report it to insurance? How much does that cost the University every year? Not knowing which employee caused the accident means the feedback and training that person should get because of the accident would not occur and therefore will continue to occur because of limited accountability. Regardless of the actual details, fleet protection down the road would suffer and cost the University real money which they could be using to fund something else. Universities face a multitude of situations that require asset protection. The potential for internal misuse of facilities, equipment and vehicles can all be reduced by effective key management and asset control. Personnel requiring access to different buildings, university fleet vehicles or equipment can be identified, audited and effectively managed through a reliable and effective key management program. What exactly is a “key management program?” A strong key management system turns conventional keys into clever keys and controls access to critical assets, while recording key usage and compiling comprehensive management information. That’s a lot of information, so let’s break it down: In a university environment, for example, the key management system would ensure that only authorized users have access to specific keys (e.g., to certain buildings or fleet vehicles). Only those with predetermined access would be able to use the keys, which are protected through security groups set specifically to each individual user and that particular key or asset based on his or her access needs on campus. Once an individual pulls a key, that audit trail begins. The system recognizes when the key is taken, by whom, and how long it is gone. Keys not returned are identified. When a key is not returned, a proper key management solution will notify the appropriate manager through text or email which makes managing the potentially costly situations pro-active instead of reactive. The software that manages the key cabinets and lockers also tracks and audits if necessary the frequency and use of a particular key. Again, an innovative key management solution can notify the manager via email or a text of an alert situation. This sounds like a burden to set up one might say, I don’t have the time or resources to bring thousands of students and staff into another security platform. Again, a proper key management system will do all of this for you through integration. Whether into your existing access control database, HR database or time and attendance, a good key management system will utilize your “day to day” data and carry it seamlessly into the management software making the entire process very user friendly with minimal additional administration. At the heart of a good system is the iFob, a bullet-shaped nickel plated brass tube that carries a unique ID and stores more event data than any one administrator will likely ever use. Once permanently attached to an iFob with a robust security seal, individual keys are electronically tagged and can drive just about any process imaginable to increase efficiencies and productivity within a University. Each iFob is then assigned a “home” within a key cabinet and locked in place until released by an authorized user. Locker for wordpressImagine 100 cleaning personnel showing up at 9pm, meeting at one centralized location on campus, signing out master keys the old fashion way from some employee being paid $15 an hour to sit around, watch TV and drink coffee until all the keys have been returned. They will collect the keys, chit chat, have a cigarette and if you’re lucky start work by 9:30pm. In addition to the human element and risk of ensuring all keys have been logged properly, in and out, imagine the time wasted every day as they get distracted from their job functions because they are catching up with friends while they collect keys. Now imagine those same 100 cleaning personnel, showing up at 9pm at their assigned buildings to clean, taking a building key (not master key) from the key management system and starting work by 9:01pm with full accountability, 100% auditability and the capacity to ensure they cannot “clock out” for the night until that key has been safely returned. Which one sounds like a University you’d like to send your child to? This type of system protects not only facilities and fleets, but can also be used to secure areas around campus and protect equipment such as laptops, iPads, tablets, radios and other costly equipment. It provides superior asset management in a simple, easy-to-install (and learn) system. An effective key management system, strategically placed throughout the campus can save thousands of dollars on employee utilization and lost keys. The key management system cuts down on internal theft, misuse of facilities and vehicular damage, saving the university money and ensuring better protection of its students and staff. Beyond these areas, many universities have specific types of facilities that require unique protection, like the safe management of biological, medical, hazardous or nuclear wastes. Applying a key management system to any of these types of areas ensures only authorized personnel are on-site and have access to maximize safety and mitigate negligence. The software program tied into the key system provides feedback on who has the key, how long they are in the facility and when they leave. This type of information is important for oversight and enforcement if safety or security issues arise at any point. A good key management system is also useful to university administrators when service contractors or vendors are hired from the outside and must get access to facilities on campus. Special access levels can be developed and implemented, allowing temporary access for these types of temporary contractors. Similar controls for these types of outside technicians can be embedded into the software so only specific keys at specific times can be accessed by these individuals. University leadership is tasked with many responsibilities, including the safe and proper use of facilities and the protection of assets. A strong program through an effective key management system helps those in charge prevent and deter theft, vandalism and improper use of facilities and materials. Innovative key management systems and locker solutions can be networked together between remote sites while controlled under a singular software platform. This allows universities to decentralize the keys & assets, putting them where they need to be, while still have 100% accountability. That means better control, fewer losses and significantly less time on administration. And any school administrator can relate to that. By: Danny Garrido - President, TRAKA USA To learn more visit: (www.trakausa.com)