Universities and student residences: introducing wireless access control and mobile credentials

Installing an access control system on a campus or in a student residence poses significant challenges: it is not simply a matter of automating an opening but of responding to the expectations of students, faculty and staff which have evolved along with technology and expect these systems to help create a more efficient and fluid overall campus experience.
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Access control, in fact, allows you to secure an environment while facilitating the daily routine of those who live there.  In the United States, where this technology has already been around for a couple of years, many universities are moving, or have already moved, to keyless entry systems where everything is accessible via the campus ID. 

Wireless devices are helpful in this transformation. Eliminating the need to run wires saves installation time and costs, enabling universities to connect more openings in less time. Introducing electronic access control systems is the first and most important step towards a keyless campus.

Electronic access control and the student experience

There are still some who don’t understand the benefits of moving from mechanical to electronical, maybe because mechanical keys are what they’ve known and trusted. But the new generations of tech-savvy students have different expectations.

It is similar to the evolution in car opening systems: until recently it was normal (partly because there were no alternatives) to open your car by putting the key in the lock. With the obvious inconveniences: “Did I lock the car?” - every time I asked myself this question, I had to retrace my steps and turn the key again just to be sure. When locking or unlocking the doors for passengers, you had to press a button on each door. Nowadays every car, even the cheapest models, has central locking using a remote control and it would be unthinkable to give up this convenience. Now you expect this feature when you buy or rent a car. If we had to go back to a totally manual system, it would seem as an obvious step backwards with technology.

accesso keyless università e studentati

Mechanical keys for doors are beginning to be seen in a similar light. In many situations and for those of us who like trying new ways of opening, they already seem obsolete because we prefer the convenience of electronic credentials or, more recently, mobile credentials. In the residential sector in our country, this technology is still in its infancy but who hasn’t been in a hotel or gym where they were given a card or credentials they could use directly from their mobile phone to check in, access their room and other areas?

Anywhere where there is a large flow of people and high turnover, like a university campus or student residence, adopting solutions like this is increasingly important. Using just one credential makes a student’s or a member of staff’s life a lot easier: they can be given access not only to their room or lecture halls but, for example, it can be used for other things like reserving a book in the library or paying for meals in the canteen.

In a world of connected devices, the possibilities of interaction grow exponentially: this includes potentially everything students interact with that can be automated or electrified.  Integrations can be easily tailored so universities of all sizes can improve security, operations and student experiences through their campus credentials.

Visibility and control

Upgrading mechanical doors to electronic access control enhances control and security by providing insights into what is going on around campus.  Audit trails, reports and alerts are available and, with the right technology, users have access to real-time data. Configuring locks and managing access rights can be done from virtually anywhere. Greater control over openings means more control over the campus as a whole.

This is especially important when you need to respond quickly in emergency situations, such as promptly deactivating access rights to credentials to limit a potential threat.

Choosing an option that has strong encryption, like smart and mobile credential technologies, can heighten the level of security. Mobile credentials offer an extra layer of peace of mind because students are far less likely to loan someone their phone than their campus ID card.  In addition, mobile credentials can offer multi-factor authentication with smartphones, which means there is a much higher probability that only those who should have access to a given space can actually gain access.

Key management

Electronic locks and credentials reduce time and costs associated with mechanical key turnover, improving operational efficiency. With mechanical looks, the creation of keys can be time-consuming and once a key is lost, there’s a loss in control over who can gain access. To overcome security threats, rekeying must take place. But with electronic credentials, rights can be deactivated immediately and new credentials issued quickly and efficiently.

As an example, a language centre in New York was experiencing an issue with high key turnover: more than 100 keys a week. The facility operates similar to a university, with students staying in residence halls on campus, but it lacks the routine schedule of a traditional school. To overcome the cost burden and inconveniences, the campus upgraded its mechanical doors in the residence halls with wireless locks with electronic credentials and adopted a one-card solution across campus. 

In this case, moving to mobile credentials improves key management even more. Students are far less likely to lose their phone than a physical credential or key. And if they do, they will notice almost immediately and report the issue.  A physical credential doesn't need replacing and the lock doesn’t need rekeying. It is all done through the access control system, saving time and money for both staff and students.

credenziali mobili università e studentati


The beauty of wireless control is that it is flexible so that customers can adopt it in phases and tailor it to fit their security needs. They can implement hardware a few doors at a time or building by building.  It’s fine to start small and grow towards your ideal state.

Wireless solutions also allow for greater flexibility in how the space is used.  Because they are less invasive, they can be easily introduced on new openings compared to hardwired options. This is important to consider if your campus or residence plans to expand or remodel in the future.  If the existing security system cannot be reconfigured easily and effectively, your school may not be able to adapt without costly modifications to its security solutions.

 Future proof

wireless access


Technology continues to evolve and with that comes expectations for a more seamless campus experience. This is evident in the mobile movement. Student residences, schools and universities need to be ready.

Even if a campus isn’t ready to transition to a mobile ecosystem tomorrow, it’s best to start planning from an infrastructure perspective now. It’s always a good idea to opt for scalable devices that can be installed to guarantee basic security via a regular card and are then extendable, with the possibility, at any time afterwards, of activating wireless functions and mobile credentials.



While electronic access control can do more than grant access to a space, it’s still expected to do its primary purpose: provide security. If that isn’t there, the additional benefits won’t matter. So it’s important to be sure that the hardware you install delivers convenience and efficiency without compromising security.

Electronic access control and credentials go hand-in-hand.  When you’re evaluating your campus security and solutions, consider how wireless can help your campus become a more convenient and efficient space.