Whether you were hired to breathe new life into a stagnant security program or if your security system is just in desperate need of an overhaul, a retrofit is likely in your future. However, a high-impact retrofit doesn’t necessarily mean a high-cost system. Sometimes, the return on your investment can come from one lost key.

Sergeant Tony Agee at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) was facing both compliance pressure and time pressure in recovering from lost key incidents. Airports face strict regulations on exactly how long officials have to recover security standards after a key, especially a master key, goes missing. With more than 90 locks to manually re-pin and up to 60 keys to recut after the last key went missing, Sgt. Agee started looking for different solutions.

Over a two and a half-year period, ROA swapped out manual pin lock hardware with plug-and-play Medeco Logic eCylinders. These cylinders can merely replace the original cylinder hardware in the door without needing to alter major infrastructure. The real power to this system is in the key, which holds all the key-holder’s permissions, while providing an audit trail for Agee and the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission Law Enforcement team. 

“With this system, I can program a setup key to blacklist the lost key’s credentials, and then take that setup key to all the effected locks,” says Agee. “This takes just an hour, instead of the days we used to take to repin the locks and recut keys…. We have around sixty employees with these access credentials, scattered across eight departments, so chasing people down to reactivate credentials used to be a large problem too. Soon, we’ll have new software where employees can reconfirm their credentials at different stations around the airport, making it much easier for my office.”

Missing master keys was also a problem for Steven Marx, the IT director at Alvord Unified School District in Riverside, California. Encompassing 23 schools and three district offices, rekeying the district was a huge undertaking, and very expensive, as well as putting students’ safety at risk, especially in the event of an active shooter incident.

“One life is one life too many to lose when you don’t have to,” says Marx. “We wanted to gain lockdown capabilities for the entire district, and we just didn’t have that option with keyed locks.”

With a new electronic access control system from Allegion that integrates hard-wired and wireless locks, Alvord USD principals gained the capability to secure the school via a lockdown key in their offices. A return on investment arrives very quickly for cardholders, as there is no longer a $50 charge for lost keys – Marx can just suspend or delete that user’s keycard credentials for the site.

He can also use the audit trail generated by the access cards’ use in investigations: “If there are missing items in classrooms during certain times of day, such as around pep rallies, we can monitor who had access to that space around those times and help focus the investigation,” Marx says.

But not every security system has to be installed at one time – the ROA installation occurred in three phases – security-sensitive doors, terminal doors, and then support buildings and the perimeter fence. In the Alvord USD, access control measures were upgraded as money became available, mostly as part of bonds purchased by community residents to improve the schools and security. At Missouri Southern State University, in Joplin, Missouri, the shift is ongoing – buildings and areas are chosen for new access measures based on the security needs of that facility, or the ease of installing an electronic access control system. For example, it was easier to run cable for card readers in buildings already being renovated than starting renovations simply to run cable. This staged approach has helped Chris Owens, the university’s Manager of Campus Card Service Center and Office Services, gain support for the system from other departments across campus.

Using CBORD CS Access from ASSA ABLOY and iCLASS cards  from HID Global, Missouri Southern is adding debit card capabilities to students’ badges, which can be used at vending machines or other campus locations, as well as providing access to different facilities, such as laundry rooms. Building exteriors were changed over first, and some buildings have interior electronic locks operating over WiFi connections.

New Facility, New Security Partner

When Toshiba Business Solutions (USA), Inc. (TBS) packed up to move to a larger Texas market headquarters, Evan O’Mahoney decided to restart security with a clean slate.

The new building “is a multitenant space; there was no existing in-suite security or access control system in place. The building entrances had proximity swipe access control for entry, but no security system, ass that is a function of each individual tenant,” says O’Mahoney, the Director of Solutions and Professional Services for TBS.

The San Antonio headquarters – including one primary office and a secondary distribution center storing inventory, parts and logistics – employs approximately 1,100 people and provides application solutions to a wide range of industries, including industrial, power systems, transmission and distribution systems, and lighting systems.

TBS had an aggressive timeline to move into the new facilities, and despite having had a relationship with a security provider for a number of years, O’Mahoney and his team decided to seek quotes and proposals from other providers for security in the new facility, eventually deciding on Tyco Integrated Security.

“After a full review of warehouse inventory – comprised of customers’ material asserts, making it incredibly important to secure since it has a direct impact on the organization’s bottom line, TycoIS determined that Mobile Security Management would be an excellent solution for enabling our security team to manage security operations when they are off-site. The TycoIS team also recommended hosted access control to allow for greater flexibility for all employees,” O’Mahoney says.

With the new system, “TBS is now limiting liability and loss via a more controlled environment, and employees report feeling empowered,” he adds. “Furthermore, we’ve found the integrated system from TycoIS has helped streamline the way we do business.” The success of the solution has convinced TBS management to implement standardized security at all 10 Texas TBS locations in the next five to eight years.

“I would highly recommend that any business evaluating a new security-based solution spend some time researching the various options available,” says O’Mahoney. “Having not evaluated these products and services for many years, it was useful to spend some time researching the latest in industry trends prior to asking vendors to provide a solution that may not have been as turnkey and robust based on our requirements. Specifically, the ability to utilize the hosted Web-based administration tools for the systems we implemented allowed us to eliminate some internal IT infrastructure that was previously required while allowing for fast and easier access to make modifications.”

If a student loses a card, he or she can log into the standard campus Web portal to deactivate it independently, easing the burden on the Campus Card Service Center.

“We’ve had a desire to move away from physical keys for years,” says Owens. “We wanted to be able to deactivate access without having to retrieve keys, and we wanted to add schedules for different locks. We worked the new system into the remodeling of our recreation center, as well as the construction of our new health sciences building. Now, we have also electronic access for laundry rooms, our gun range (for the police academy and criminal justice studies students, primarily), the cadaver lab, bursar’s office and the financial aid office.”

Audits are also helpful here, he says. “We give a daily access report to the head of the bursar’s department, so they know who has been coming and going, and so they can report anything that looks suspicious. It’s a good deterrent factor, having to swipe a card on entry means that someone knows you were there.” 

Want to Learn More?

  Check out the access control providers included in this article

Allegion ASSA ABLOY HID Global Medeco Tyco Integrated Security