A Web-based access control system protects Appletree School and allows parents to have their own PIN number to gain safe access.

The little ones needed protection and the big ones needed assurance. And a monitor on the entrance was not good enough. So the Appletree School in Fairfax, Va., brought in security systems integrator Baldino’s Electronic Security, and Earl Wilson of Newington, Va., to install a Web-based access control system, which also did some administration chores, too.

The Appletree School was founded as a private school in 1979 to serve the community’s preschool and kindergarten children, offering a sound curriculum presented in a unique, departmentalized style. Appletree is in suburban Virginia, with close proximity to the Washington, D.C. Metro System. While the location provides convenient access for parents, children and teachers, it also poses some interesting concerns with respect to access to the school building. “Since we are very close to the Vienna Metro stop, we used to have people wandering in off the street, we even had people recently released from jail coming in looking for the Metro station,” said Appletree’s Beckii Pittman.

The facility keeps doors locked from the outside, except for the front entrance which is normally staffed by the school nurse. However, the nurse has other duties as well and can’t always monitor the entrance. Appletree also needed to provide easy-to-administrate access after hours and during holidays for teachers and staff. The school had a limited budget and possessed only minimal technical resources to administer an IP-based access control solution.


In an effort to increase the personal safety of teachers, students and parents, Pittman began researching options. A colleague at another Appletree location recommended the Brivo Access Control System. So the systems integrator installed and serviced the system. Appletree placed access control on the front door and assigned PIN codes to parents and teachers.

Administrators have benefited from Web-based administration capabilities by being able to log onto their account from home to monitor activity and manage access. Such access and ease-of-use has been especially helpful on days when the school is closed due to inclement weather. Also, user credentials can be set to specific schedules, allowing access flexibility. Among tech highlights:
  • Most important: Parents and teachers have much greater “peace of mind” from a value added service that has proven to increase school safety.

  • Remote administration of the entire system from any Web browser anytime, anywhere in the world.

  • Teacher and staff productivity have increased by allowing easy, managed access to the school during off-hours, weekends, and holidays.

  • The equipment vendor manages all IT maintenance of the system -- eliminating the need for expensive IT resources or extensive technical expertise.

  • Appletree staff can log in and manage the parents’ credentials from a home computer, preventing them from dropping their children off when the school is not fully-staffed due to inclement weather conditions.

  • Total cost of ownership is up to 50 percent less than traditional PC-based electronic access control systems.

The military uses a flexible access control reader in the field. Photo courtesy: Datastrip

SIDEBAR: Outdoor Access and ID – Ruggedized

There were numerous identification, access and people monitoring systems shown at the recent ASIS International conference. But Security Magazine editors only saw one thrown through the air and crashing to the floor in Las Vegas. It was a ruggedized unit from Datastrip. It’s a handheld device specifically designed to provide identity verification by reading contact and contactless chips on identification documents such as ID cards, passports, national ID cards, driver’s licenses and many more ID initiatives. The unit combines a contact and contactless smart card reader, a 500 dpi fingerprint sensor for instant matching to a biometric template and a large color digital touchscreen display readable in direct sunlight or low light conditions – all in a compact handheld WindowsCE.NET unit weighing approximately two pounds.