That is the question most facility professionals ask when they have outgrown their off-line security system and want the advantages that only an online solution can provide. But what holds them back? Often, it is the lack of wired infrastructure, as well as the cost and disruption of getting those wires to the openings they want to secure.
Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI) in Schnecksville, Pa. recently solved this dilemma by leveraging its existing WiFi computer network and using Profile Series v.S2 locksets from Sargent Manufacturing Company.
“Our goal was to enhance security and convenience,” said Dan Kotran, the facility manager at LCTI, the country’s third largest vocational school. “Each day, roughly 3,000 students pass through our doors. With that much space to cover and such a large student population, it can be difficult to ensure properly secured doorways.
“Ideally, we wanted to establish online access control on doorways throughout the facility and not just the main entrances,” he added. “But we don’t have the wiring infrastructure in place to support such an initiative, and installing wiring to each door was too cost-prohibitive.”
Kotran used the lockset to upgrade to online access control without the need for wires. The lockset has a cylindrical lock and exit device configurations, integrates WiFi technology, and includes a security controller, HID proximity reader, and door position and request-to-exit sensors to provide monitoring capabilities. The locks even have optional keypads for higher security applications, like co-ed residence halls and computer rooms.
The system works with any open-architecture access control system, providing Kotran centrally managed control without many of the costs, labor and infrastructure upgrades associated with a traditional hardwired system.
“We wanted a smart, online lockset that would tie into our existing wireless network without having to run wiring to each doorway,” Kotran explained. “The locks that were previously in place were offline and required us to visit each doorway any time a change was made to user profiles.”
“Since the existing locks were offline, no wiring infrastructure was in place to upgrade to an online, hardwired lockset,” he added. “However, the facility does have a WiFi network in place. When we learned [there was] an online lockset that could tap into our WiFi infrastructure, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Each lockset is capable of storing up to 2,000 unique credential IDs and 10,000 events; this allows “access granted” decisions to be made at the door. The benefits of this design are instantaneous transactions, minimal reliance on network bandwidth and system redundancy. In addition, the devices are “linked” to a central location where LCTI facility personnel establish and manage all student, faculty and staff access privileges, as well as monitor event transactions. Kotran said this improves security and decreases the burden on facility personnel.
The locks also incorporate an HID-compatible proximity reader as well as sensors that monitor door position and request-to-exit activity. All communications to and from the locksets are conducted via an open standard WiFi infrastructure, which eliminates the need to run cables from the door to the access control system.
LCTI has installed 22 locksets throughout the facility. “Installing the locks couldn’t have been any easier,” Kotran said. “There were no wires to run and, since the locks do not require any proprietary wireless infrastructure, they instantly worked with our WiFi network.”
“This new locking system has given us greater control of our facility security,” he added. “We are able to interrogate the locks from a central location and monitor who accessed the opening and at what time. We know when a problem occurs at the door and no longer have to make routine inspections. Our facility personnel spend less time tending to doorway-related problems.”
In addition, Kotran said students and staff frequently lose FOB keys. In the past, this would require facility personnel to visit each door and issue new commands to the lock in response to a lost FOB. Now it is all done from a central location.
“We also like having the ability to monitor the lock and knowing we will receive a signal if a door has been propped open, creating a potential security liability,” Kotran added.
Another feature that Kotran said he appreciates is that the lockset can send out a warning when batteries are running low. This saves not only the time associated with battery change outs, but also the cost of prematurely throwing away batteries that still have plenty of shelf life remaining.