Connecting a University in Greater Manchester

Universities are a unique breed when it comes to physical security. Their scale often exceeds many large blue-chip companies in both the number of doors that they must secure as well the quantity of active card holders, often exceeding 40,000. 

This higher education establishment was no different when they presented us with the brief of connecting their disparate systems.  

The primary objective was to stitch multiple systems together in an effort to reduce data entry. It quickly became apparent that the Access Control system was the sole candidate for dealing with the grunt of the work effort and very quickly it was transformed from a monolithic, disconnected platform to a bespoke piece of middleware. 

The first connected system was the student record system SITS. However, over the years the University had tailored this so it no longer represented an off the shelf solution and thus the endpoint that we connected to was a completely bespoke Oracle view.  

We designed a receiver for the dataset within the view which enabled the student record system to be able to push new starters and record updates which we were able to action instantly. 

The first deployment of this interface enabled the import of the usual cardholder data that an Access Control system is capable of storing. Generic site wide access was also automatically attributed to new starters.  

Over the coming months and years other stakeholders have formed an orderly queue to add their requirements to the list.

However, the immediate increase in efficiency of enrolling students was noted across many of the departments across the campus and very quickly a second project was undertaken to scale out the deployment to include a plethora of custom field data.

This additional data enabled the v2.0 of the interface to automatically grant cardholders access to specific rooms based on their course codes, to specific dorms derived from their residences codes and access extensions should someone have to return for exam re-sits.

The second iteration of the interface had not yet been finished before the library team consulted us to provide them with analytics to enable them to uncover the real hour by hour attendance of their multiple learning facilities, fine tuning their operating hours to suit. 

Over the coming months and years other stakeholders have formed an orderly queue to add their requirements to the list. These included integrating printing services, staff, visitor and contractor data imports, and facilitating GDPR requests from a business and end user perspective. 

It has reduced the risk of data breach by automatically cleansing identifying data of people where there is no legitimate reason for retaining it. 

The resultant system has dramatically reduced manual data entry in turn nearly eradicating erroneous and superfluous data. It has empowered the customer to better secure their premises by doing away with the archaic methodology of holistically granting access to those that often didn’t need it.

It has reduced the risk of data breach by automatically cleansing identifying data of people where there is no legitimate reason for retaining it. 

Furthermore, it has improved the satisfaction of their customer, the cardholders as their requests for access or replacement cards can be turned around orders of magnitude more quickly than before.