Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How to Improve Security When the Campus Is Empty

Empty lecture hall
When is your university campus empty? As a campus law enforcement or safety administrator, you’d probably say never.

Whether your university is in the midst of spring break, winter break, or even a pandemic shutdown, your officers and staff still play a critical role in maintaining the security and safety of university property and assets when students are mostly gone.

As such, those periods in which campus is “empty” certainly aren’t times to relax or let basic department practices fall to the wayside. You must remain vigilant while taking advantage of the relative quiet to improve your department and other campus security measures.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure your campus remains safe until — and even after — students return.

Encourage Preparedness

If you have the benefit of knowing ahead of time that your campus will be closed for a period, such as for spring or winter breaks, be sure to communicate with students about the importance of securing their belongings before they leave. Campus-wide emails and flyers can help remind students to lock dorm or apartment doors and windows or secure personal property like bicycles.

Perform Routine Audits

Once students are gone, you’ll likely have fewer emergency calls to respond to. While your officers should already be checking doors around campus during this time, it’s also a good opportunity for you to audit campus keys and other security equipment you might oversee. If your audit process for keys takes days rather than minutes, consider using an electronic key control system for managing and tracking key activity. The quicker audits can be performed, the more time staff will have for other tasks.

Prioritize Training

When your campus is a bustling hive of activity, it’s probably difficult to squeeze important training into your daily activities. From threat response drills to leaning how to use a new tool or process, quiet times on your campus can be used to prioritize training. Taking some time to catch up on training will prepare your officers and staff to be more effective and efficient when campus is full.

Review Processes

It might be difficult to do when operations aren’t moving at full speed, but the slower pace of a break also represents a chance to review your department’s processes as a whole. Do certain tasks make parts of your department less efficient? If a particular staff member is out sick or on vacation, does that limit your department’s effectiveness? Look for areas that make life more difficult for officers and consider options that can eliminate bottlenecks and obstacles.

While an empty campus might seem like a great time to kick back and relax, it’s certainly not. It’s a time to be vigilant and an opportunity to improve and make your campus a safer place. If your campus is already starting to open up following COVID-19, consider these tips for keeping your key control running smoothly and cleanly in the face of the new normal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Key Control Is Key to Safely Reopening Your Multifamily Community

Hands unlocking door
As much of the country begins reopening after the shutdown from COVID-19, leasing offices across the country are preparing to resume something more like business as usual. Of course, there will be adjustments: social distancing guidelines, mask wearing, increased sanitization procedures, etc.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cleaning guidelines and the National Apartment Association (NAA) COVID-19 Operational Best Practices offer some helpful guidance for transitioning employees back to the office and reopening to the public. In addition to those guidelines, consider making adjustments to your key control process. Keys and key control systems are high-touch areas that are sometimes handled by multiple people each day, so it’s important to implement protocol to protect your employees, residents, and property.

Start with the following tips.

Keep Vendor Traffic Flowing

Whether it’s carpet cleaners, pest control, painters, or dog walkers, you have any number of vendors each day needing access to apartments. The moment a vendor arrives on-site, it’s important to quickly locate a key and give them access to the appropriate apartment(s) as soon as possible.

Having contractors and vendors stacked up in the management office waiting for keys isn’t the appearance you want when you’re trying to impress new resident prospects and lease apartments (not to mention it makes social distancing more difficult).

In addition, many of the vendors and contractors are on the clock the minute they arrive on the property. Your property is wasting money if vendors are standing around waiting for keys.

To find keys quickly, ensure you keep them in a secure location, such as an electronic key control system, and make sure keys are returned at the end of every day (an electronic system can notify you automatically if a key isn’t returned).

Minimize Contact With Prospects and Customers

Also minimize the time people need to spend in the leasing office. This requires being able to find keys quickly. You could have them wait outside to enforce social distancing, but it’s not good customer service to make them wait for an extended period of time while you look for keys.

Keeping keys in a convenient yet secure area, like in a key control system designed for front-desk use, and ensuring keys are returned promptly when someone is done using them (through text and email alerts, for example) helps make sure keys are there when you need them.

Clean and Disinfect Keys and Electronics Regularly

Keys are high-touch surfaces, so be sure to disinfect keys, key tags, smart tokens, key control systems, and other devices regularly using EPA-approved products. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s guidelines for any electrical components. If you have an electronic key control system, print a copy of our key control system cleaning guidelines and keep it near your system for quick reference.

Encourage employees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer every time they handle keys or other high-touch surfaces.

As we’re learning in these times, keeping your community and residents safe isn’t simply about physical security measures. These tips give you a few more ways to protect the health of your employees, residents, and anyone else passing through your leasing office.