To provide greater security in living centers and other buildings, Grand Valley State University began by upgrading access control on exterior doors and other critical areas, moving from keys to a combination of hard-wired, wireless, and standalone electronic access control. New construction...
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To provide greater security in living centers and other buildings, Grand Valley State University began by upgrading access control on exterior doors and other critical areas, moving from keys to a combination of hard-wired, wireless, and standalone electronic access control. New construction is taking security to the next phase with the standalone devices included on interior residence room doors as well.
Grand Valley State University was established in 1960, with the main campus located on a 1,275-acre site, 12 miles west of Grand Rapids in Allendale, Mich. Grand Valley also offers classes on campuses in Grand Rapids and Holland, and through centers in Muskegon and Traverse City. The public, four-year university serves more than 23,000 students, with a faculty of 750 and a support staff of 1,065. The main campus serves approximately 16,000 students, with housing for 5,500 and 500 additional units planned.
For many years, access control to all campus buildings was handled with a fairly robust but conventional brass key system. Gradual loss of key control and the desire for greater security led to implementing card systems in some areas, but centralized control and standardization was lacking.
Dave Feenstra, maintenance supervisor & project manager — facilities services, explains, “The maintenance staff had to spend too much time making keys and replacing cores. We re-keyed the whole campus a few years ago, because over time, people had compromised the system, either knowingly or unknowingly.”
Although the re-keying helped return some control, the university wanted to provide a higher level of security across campus but particularly in student housing.
Feenstra points out, “If somebody breaks into an office and steals equipment, that’s one thing, but where the security of the students is concerned, it’s a lot more critical. We feel the parents entrust their children to us, so we want to make sure we provide them with the best security we can.”
A card reader system seemed the best way to manage and control access, but the cost of retrofitting thousands of doors would have been prohibitive. To provide the improved control in a cost-effective manner, the university selected a Schlage Security Management System (Schlage SMS) that enabled it to link hard-wired Schlage card readers or Schlage Wireless locks on exterior doors with Schlage Computer Managed (CM) standalone locking systems at selected interior academic locations.
“The first project was to get the building entrances secure,” Feenstra says. “With hundreds of students living in a building, once we decided to secure the doors 24/7, locks were wearing out in as little as a month because of the heavy use. Whenever a key failed to operate properly, security was a challenge.”
The main entrances of each residence building were equipped with the hard-wired Schlage card readers or Schlage Wireless readers and locks. The readers communicate with the Schlage Security Management System which grants or rejects access based on access rights assigned to each individual card holder. If access is granted, the SMS control system sends a command that electrically unlocks the door.
This was cost-effective, in part, because the number of entrances was limited. Feenstra points out that the controls for the system were located in each building’s communications closet to take advantage of the secure location and proximity to the campus wiring network.
One benefit of the Schlage SMS system is the ability to change access parameters or perform a lockdown with a few keystrokes. In the event of a threatening telephone call or a stolen card, building entrances can be locked down quickly until the problem is resolved. “There’s a responsibility for the university to provide the best environment we can, and the ability to manage a situation through our card access control is part of that mission.”
Once the system was in operation, some additional doors were equipped with SMS readers and electrified locks, based on student usage patterns. Feenstra explains, “We were finding that students were propping other doors open with a pebble or a penny so they could re-enter. In almost every case, the door involved pointed toward a food source.” He notes that it only takes one such incident to compromise security for the entire building.
To solve the problem, Schlage readers and locks were added to secondary doors as needed, and door position sensors (“prop alarms”) also were added to sound an alarm if a door was held open too long. Other doors are locked from the inside but have no outside access, so they can only be used for egress. These usage patterns and needs will be considered when planning future construction, according to Feenstra.