Winning the Bid with bright blue

June 4, 2012
First, we needed to determine if we could back into the existing card population. Then we specified an access control system to use. Then we needed to design a solution that would meet the client’s requirements and meet code. Then I needed to win the bid.

The request for quotation (RFQ) went out for an access control system for a state agency. Like many RFQs, it did not include too much information about the system requirements, making a site visit essential. The agency occupied a portion of the sixth floor of a multi-story office building.

I was surprised to find existing card readers on the three entry doors into the suite. The business manager explained that their purpose was two-fold. First the agency wanted direct control of the doors, the card holders, the schedules, and the activity reports (rather than have  the building’s access control system). Second, they wanted to upgrade the system features so that it would require a valid credential to egress the premises as well as to enter.

The client said that the reason for adding this feature was to prevent employees from not working the hours for which they were being paid. Apparently someone discovered that they could get away with it, and now many of the employees were taking advantage of the agency which not only was amounting to employee theft, but also engendering a lack of respect for the employer, and undermined agency professionalism. It is sad that some employees feel it is their mission to find weaknesses in a system and then exploit them. Pretty soon all the employees feel entitled to the same benefits the original miscreant stole for his own personal use. Although most employees may not be motivated enough to find ways to circumvent basic rules, once a way has been identified and successfully circumvented, it gets messy getting the toothpaste back in the tube; valuable employees may need to be disciplined and if such sanctions were to be legally challenged, the operation of the agency might be jeopardized. Of course adding this type of security also enhances the safety of all the employees by discouraging pilferage of personal property.

The client also preferred to continue using the existing credentials that got employees into the building. If that same credential could allow them to also this office, it  would be a plus.

We had already decided that the project was worth bidding; given the distance from our shop and the job price. Next I needed to determine if we could back into the existing card population.Then I needed to pick an access control system to use. Then I needed to design a solution that would meet the client’s requirements and meet code. Then I needed to win the bid.

We did a little homework and determined the existing credentials were a format we could enroll. Then we selected an access control system suitable for this size of a system, which would be three doors, but six readers. I would use the existing levers and door strikes, and add entry and egress readers and delayed egress maglocks to accomplish the system objectives.

Before submitting my bid, I had clarified some details of how he expected the system to operate, and it was determined that in addition to the egress reader, they also wanted an EMERGENCY button adjacent to each door so they could unlock the door immediately even if the fire alarm was not in alarm.

We won the bid. I do not know how low we were, but although we wanted the job, I priced it to make a profit.

About a week after we received notification that we won the project, the building engineer emailed and advised that the theory of operation failed to mention how the facilities department would be able to gain emergency entry into the space. A couple of emails later we agreed that a keyswitch on the exterior wall adjacent to each door would satisfy their requirements, and the upcharge was within project guidelines so the project would not have to go out for bid all over again. That was a good thing. We would supply housings and the building would supply the IC cores.

The final (?) obstacle was to get a permit for the project since we were using a delayed egress system.

It turned out that this process was handled by Buildings & Permits rather than the Fire Marshal. The application would have to include the usual paperwork such as our business license, our registration as a private security company, proof of insurance, and a few crisp c-notes tucked in there as bookmarks.

I was advised that I would also be required to include a UL Firestop detail. Whenever your cabling is entering or passing through a fire-rated wall floor or ceiling, firestop must be used. One way of determining if you are dealing with a fire-rated wall, is to check for a label on a door in the same wall. You can also review the floorplans.

I was able to determine what my project requirements were and by using Specified Technologies Submittal Wizard on their website: got my UL Firestop Detail submittal paperwork together.

The site also has an informative video on the importance of proper firestop specification and deployment as well as listings for all their products. Tech support was very knowledgeable and informative. Exact firestop requirements will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, gaining an understanding of the requirements, conventions, and materials and best practices is a good way move you along on your lifelong journey to that magic place to which you aspire where you actually know what you’re doing.

By the way, that silly string expanding foam from the home center don’t make it as firestop.

Electronic Access Control: bright blue

I selected bright blue, Schlage’s small to medium size system solution. Architecture involves a central 32-door capacity controller, and individual reader interfaces.

bright blue is Web-based and easy to configure. There is one connection point to the customer’s network and dedicated cabling between the controller and each reader interface. Bright Blue also interfaces with Schlage’s wired and wireless AD Series standalone locksets, as well as third party hardware so it is a scalable, versatile and cost-effective solution.

Administrators can log onto the system from anywhere with Internet access.

The Linux operating system offers stability and greater security from external threats.

User, Operator and Administrator log-on access levels are provided with each level providing a different set of access rights to the system, controlling what each user, operator and administrator is authorized to manage or view.

 User-friendly configuration wizards and helpful tips make the configuration process and training easy. Novice computer users will learn how to log on and start managing access quickly. It’s easy to add cardholders, set up new doors and assign personnel access to different doors based on their time schedules, security levels and job requirements.

Schlage bills bright blue as the smart solution for:

• Small and medium commercial offices
• Medical and dental offices
• K-12 Schools
• Property management
• Houses of worship

Retail bright blue supported devices include:

• Schlage AD-400 wireless locks

• Schlage AD-300 hardwired locks

• Schlage proximity and smart card readers

• Industry standard proximity, magnetic stripe and smart card 


bright blue system features include:

• Support for up to 32 doors and 5000 cardholders

• Pre-configured and network ready

• Application wizards for ease of use

• Standardized reports

• System back-up

• Access anytime, anywhere, with a network connected computer

• Employee access activity monitor

• Anti-passback function to eliminate unauthorized entry

• Manual overrides to temporarily unlock doors

• Native communication to Schlage’s wireless access and VIP locks

• Holiday and event scheduling

• Minimal training required

• Door status monitoring

• Built-in web server

• Flashable firmware for future upgrades

• Remote access and administration

• Video integration option

Delayed Egress Maglock: BEA Sensors

For the delayed egress maglock I selected the BEA Sensors’ delayed egress maglock, which is a UL Listed standalone I wanted to try.

My design required the addition of a delayed egress maglock to each door requiring a valid credential to be used to egress. The BEA unit is an all-in-one solution supplied with the maglock, an external sounder and external keyswitch to manually reset and override the device. You can use a keypad instead of the keyswitch they supply. The external sounder has several volume settings to suite the installation environment.

The built-in "sensor" detects when pressure is applied to outward swinging doors and provides a Security Condition Sensor (SCS) feature indicates that the door is closed and bonded.

Since the product is sold throughout the world, it like most other delayed egress products is field selectable to meet a variety of building codes. The device auto senses voltage from 12–24 VDC and up to 1200lbs holding force  and its unique highly visible "Red/Green" light panel indicates status of door. The BEA cannot be triggered by an auxiliary device such as a pushbar with REX. 

For the EMERGENCY buttons I specified Safety Technologies International’s nifty UB-1 which I‘ve used and reviewed in previous articles.

The keyswitches were the Schlage Series 640. They’re heavy duty high security and are available in numerous function and switch contact configurations. My project required Red and Green LEDs, DPDT (Double pole Double Throw) contacts, maintained (On-Off) function. I would provide visual indication that there was power to the lock, and whether the keyswitch was in the Locked or Un-Locked position.

My access control did two things when a valid credential was presented; it applied voltage (unlocked) to the fail-secure mortise lock, and removed (unlocked) voltage to the delayed egress electromagnetic lock.

For the keyswitches, I decided to only cut power to the delayed egress electromagnetic lock, and not apply power to the electric strike. If an engineer had to get into the space, he would first turn off the power to the delayed egress electromagnetic lock, then use the same key in the lever trim (which was how it was working before the access control upgrade. I didn’t want the liability if someone pulled the keyswitch off the wall and bypassed both locks.


For additional information about Schlage bright blue, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

For additional information about BEA Sensors, contact your local locksmith distributor or visit

For additional information about STI UB-1 emergency buttons, contact your local locksmith distributor or

To read additional Locksmith Ledger articles about bright blue, visit

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.