Replacing keys with electronic access control solves another problem. Tucker explains, “In any given year, there are too many master keys issued to make effective key control possible. Even though they are legitimate, if one is lost, it can require an expensive and time-consuming re-keying of an entire school. Because of this, some people don’t report their missing keys promptly, hoping they will find them. In the meantime, our security is vulnerable every day a key is unaccounted for. If we know when a card is lost, we can be secure and issue another card in minutes.”
Networked Access Control
To bring access under control across the entire district, Alvord adopted as its standard the Schlage Security Management System (SMS), a Windows® based software program offered by Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. The system enables the district to link hard-wired Schlage card readers or Schlage Wireless locks on exterior doors in real time, as well as Schlage Computer Managed (CM) standalone locking systems. It has the capability to integrate the district’s complete access control functions, with the potential for digital video, and alarm monitoring systems as well.
“The networked Ingersoll Rand system is included in the specifications of the new buildings as a non-bid item because it is a district standard,” Tucker says. He notes that each classroom door will have one exterior door with an electronic lock. For classrooms with two exterior doors, the second door will be equipped with an exit device inside for emergency egress but will have no means of entrance from the outside to maintain security.
Electronic locks installed during new construction generally are hard-wired into the system, according to Tucker. However, wireless units are used in upgrading existing facilities. This eliminates the need to pull wiring and provide power supplies for each controlled opening, since these locks are battery-powered but linked to the network for real-time control by wireless data transmission.
As part of the bond-funded program, the district is building entirely new school office buildings that will be located at the front of each facility. This provides a controlled entry point for visitors. To provide added security and peace-of-mind, the networked security system allows a principal to lock every door immediately in case of an intruder or other emergency, using a master switch in the school office.
Prior to moving into the networked system, to improve security in some areas, the district installed a number of Schlage computer-managed (CM) electronic locks. These standalone locks are now managed by the Schlage Security Management System, the same system that manages the online hard-wired and wireless readers and locks that communicate in real-time. The CM locks are linked to the campus security system by downloading access codes from the central computer to a laptop or hand-held device such as a PDA and then uploading them to the individual locks. The uploading or downloading process takes only seconds and need only be performed when changes are needed to the cardholders or to the lock operation. Audit trail information for the stand alone locks can be downloaded to the laptop or PDA for transfer to the main computer, where it is integrated into the system.
High Security Key System
With the building exteriors protected by the networked system, access to interior doors and other openings is being upgraded to a Schlage restricted high-security mechanical key system. District locksmith Terry Holloman explains, “Key blanks are controlled, and I have to send a letter of authorization to get them. The distributor doesn’t keep them on the shelf, so they pass along the request, and Schlage sends the keys or locks directly to me.”
Although the district will continue to use mechanical keys in these applications, Holloman says the move to networked security makes his job easier by reducing the number of keys he has to cut and locks he has to re-key. In addition, any changes or replacements can be made more quickly. “Since I’m running the lockshop for the entire district, it’s outstanding from a locksmith’s point of view. If someone loses a key, especially a master, it means a lot of extra work. If they lose a credential, all we have to do is retire it and print them another one.”