Visualizing the Future of Campus Security

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Visualizing the Future of Campus Security

For those of you who could not join us at NACCU this year, the following is a recap of the session presentation Byron Whetstone, American Direct’s CEO, presented to the conference in April 2023 

Close your eyes and imagine a campus of the future. From wearable credentials to imminently approaching access control rooted in ambient computing… the future may be closer than you realize.  

I am Byron Whetstone, the CEO of American Direct and I invite you to join me in a peek into the future of campus security.  

As an industry veteran it’s exhilarating to think about how far we’ve come over the past 30 years. While we didn’t quite bring the vision of the Jetsons to life, we have come pretty darn close. I’m not here to chat with you about robots or flying cars on the campus in the future, but I believe at this very moment we’re on the cusp of an evolution within the industry. 

Things that previously felt like they were in the distant future are happening right before our very eyes. 

Think back only ten to 12 years ago. Students and faculty on campuses across the country used new badge technology to make purchases at their Student Unions and to swipe for meals in the dining hall. 

But in a matter of a few short years, we’re swiping and beeping for everything across campus – to access residence halls and individual dorm rooms, to make purchases all over campus, and more! And that’s where we’re starting to see growing pains. 

From the standard card or badge credential to new access tools like your phone or smartwatch credential, companies like American Direct are working ahead and building technologies that keep our clients prepared for the future. And right now, that looks like a present with safer, more efficient campuses. 

The future of campus security will be reliant on the technologies we have today (like those smart technology wearables) as well as the ongoing evolution of innovative technologies that are already underway. 

Looking even further into the future? We’re already thinking about the emerging credential ecosystem. Imagine us, as humans, AS the credential. Existing with a metadata digital trail as we do today, but one that uses further technologies to anticipate our movements and commands. Our identity becomes bigger on a digital scale. 

Pause for just a second and consider the current residential home. You’ll recognize this transition is already happening even if you haven’t thought about it in these exact terms. It’s likely you have taken part without even knowing. 

The value of security is no longer simply based on proximity.  

Security companies used to have an advantage by being close to your location. But now, home security is largely a DIY market. Residential security has been flooded with companies wanting to put security into the hands of everyday people. Consider the boom of Nest, Ring, or SimpliSafe; your security controls are as personalized, and as immediate, as your smartphone.  

The value of security has shifted. Security value equals time.  

You know the famous saying: “Time is money.” 

But in education and commercial spaces, the question of scalability isn’t that simple. Placing the safety and security of lives in the hands of the DIY market opens the door for significant failure. So, where do we go from here? 

Innovation is the core value that will define success for the future. 

Companies, schools, and organizations who make innovation a core value – like we do at American Direct – will continue to lead the pack and thrive long into the future.  

We’re looking at campuses as they exist today and ensuring they’re capable of adapting to the rapidly evolving security needs of the future. And what we’ve identified as the most rapidly evolving security opportunity is the consolidation of identifiers. A phone, a watch, a fob, a card, all have a unique identifier.  

It’s not about the lock anymore. 

Doors, frames, hardware are and will remain an essential part of campus security – but the potential goes way beyond the physical lock. 

One thing we can guarantee won’t change: for American Direct, people will remain a priority over technology. 

The people we care for at our organizations and universities are the driver behind technology. They are the reason we must continue to evolve with campus technology to enhance the user experience. Students and staff must be at the center of technology design. 

Communication is the future of access security.  

Connectivity and control over the door opening will no longer be enough. As the future expands, so do the challenges. Enhanced technology support is rapidly becoming non-negotiable. 

In the future, companies will not (and cannot) accept systems that lack interoperability. For the credential ecosystem to work, all the parts and pieces must align and communicate together seamlessly. 

The more tech we accumulate to streamline processes and protocols, the more metadata there is to communicate. And the more data our processes pull in, the more potential problems can be created. But we are working with an eye toward the future to create advanced solutions. 

Things that previously felt like they were in the distant future are happening right before our very eyes. 

Ambient computing knows and predicts human command, without any physical action required. Ambient computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will drive the data points students and faculty create long before access control technology catches up. 

In the future, the risk of failure still won’t be an option for us. 

Predictive analytics will drive the analysis and impact of the credential ecosystem.  

Instead of seeing problems on the horizon, the future will be riddled with opportunities for data scientists and security specialists. Their careers will revolve around the security data we are just beginning to harness today. 

Here’s my vision for campuses of the future:  

  • Campuses of the future will harness technology and data to save money on energy, space, and time. 
  • Campuses of the future will converge IT and Facilities Management teams as the hard lines that have defined these roles blur. 
  • Campuses of the future will realize the interoperability is essential to safety, security, and communication.  
  • Campuses of the future will ease user adoption as we embrace ambient computing to adopt future credentials in their environments. 

If you’re considering the best way to build your university into a person-first, technologically advanced campus of the future, contact us to learn how our forward-thinking and knowledgeable team can prepare you to meet the future head on. We’re ready to equip you with total access control solutions.