Slippery Rock Glad to Make Switch

Jan. 27, 2021
University adds BEST smart locks to its campus security system.

Slippery Rock University, located in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, strives to make its security practices as effective and efficient as possible. Although many parts of the campus use card access, Dan Brown, SRU director of housing, admits that some parts, such as residence halls, still use traditional keys. Transitioning from small-format interchangeable cores (SFIC) to electronic access control (EAC) in those locations hasn't been a high priority because of the scale and budget, although housing leaders acknowledge the inefficiencies of their key-based system.

“We typically don’t make changes to our access systems as long as they’re working,” Brown says. “When we need to upgrade, we prioritize changeouts to maintain good budget stewardship.”

In 2020, the SRU IT and Housing Department’s leadership team moved some of its offline locks into an online system in student residences. Their goal was to improve security and enable student credentials to be reprogrammed from a central location rather than at each door site to improve efficiency. This beta test would serve as a model on which to develop larger plans to reduce reliance on keys in student housing.

dormakaba worked with officials to install its BEST Switch Tech platform, an electronic replacement for SFICs. SRU installed Switch Cores and integrated them into the school’s existing Lenel EAC system to retrofit doors in student residences. The results, according to SRU, have been positive.

The new system makes it easier to control who gains entry and provides greater access visibility and tracking control. Although challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the overall student experience on campus, the Switch Tech platform enables the school to upgrade access control in strategic areas and prioritize future replacement to digital technology.

“We have so many doors,” Brown says. “We don’t want to start changing them if we don’t have to. Switch Core fits into existing cores, significantly reducing the costs of adding digital access, and it’s easy to install and use. It’s also compatible with our existing Lenel system for a complete plug-and-play install, and our own locksmiths can take care of it.”

“The nicest feature is that I don’t have to go to the lock to reload it,” says Maria Malacaman, information technology generalist II on SRU’s housing staff. “I can see right away if a student or cardholder is having issues with access. I can troubleshoot from my office rather than going to the door site and take care of the student quickly.”

The Switch Tech platform extends electronic access control to applications previously not practical. Switch Core will work wherever SFICs do, including cylindrical, mortise and other locks by BEST, SARGENT, Yale, Corbin Russwin, Schlage and more. It’s aimed at retrofitting electronic control into existing doors on interior rooms, closets, cabinets and cases.

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