Taking It Up a Grade

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Taking It Up a Grade

Joint effort at Chaffey Joint Union High School District means safer, more efficient electronic locks

Located just east of Los Angeles, the Chaffey Joint Union High School District is the fourth largest school system in the state of California. With a faculty and staff of 5,400, the district serves more than 24,000 students across 11 campuses in the communities of Ontario, Montclair, Rancho Cucamonga, and portions of Fontana, Upland and Mount Baldy. The Chaffey school district includes eight comprehensive high schools, a continuation high school, a community day school, and an adult school, plus an online high school and alternative programs.

Threats on Campus

An increase in threats and incidents on school and college campuses nationwide has resulted in education leaders focusing on the continuous improvement of security. Because education facilities typically have a large number of employees, students and visitors, often with varying schedules, it is imperative that they have a door and access control solution that is easy to manage and can provide credential updates in real time.

In 2014, Chaffey schools, seeking to upgrade their security plan with funds from an $848 million bond issue, chose to convert existing mechanical locks to electronic locks. The purpose of this upgrade was to provide: • A districtwide, keyless, and smart access control system for more than 3,200 doors across 11 campuses. • The capability for an easy system wide lockdown in an emergency. • Convenient and secure access for the wide-range of campus users. • Easy-to-use administrative software to manage access of different buildings within a single, seamless interface. • Accurate monitoring of critical tasks. Respected system integrator IES Communications earned the project and developed the security upgrade for Chaffey schools. At the time, IES had just begun recommending SALTO Systems wireless and networked locks and determined they would be able to provide the best solution for Chaffey Schools, said Gilbert Romo, IES Communications vice president of sales.

“Our relationship with SALTO was relatively new when we selected them to supply electronic locks and software for Chaffey Schools in 2014, but we were very impressed with their products and past successes, and we knew this project would be the perfect fit,” Romo said.

Leveraging the Network

IES Communications chose to convert Chaffey Schools’ existing mechanical locks into a standalone, battery-powered, smart access control system leveraging the SALTO Virtual Network (SVN) with MIFARE technology and a wide range of SALTO XS4 hardware, specifically electronic escutcheons, electronic cylinders, panic devices for emergency exit doors, door detectors that wirelessly indicate an open door, wall readers and door controllers.

SALTO Systems featured the first stand-alone, battery-powered electronic lock; the SVN data-on-card technology; and the first wireless access control system that combined a stand-alone locking device with online, real-time capabilities, all without using wires or mechanical keys.

The advanced data-on-card technology has provided Chaffey schools with significant benefits and improved productivity such as: controlled and secure access for more than 5,400 cardholders across 11 school sites, 116 buildings, and 3,200 doors, substantial reduction in employee man hours spent physically unlocking and locking hundreds of doors each morning and afternoon and increased efficiency in the processing and chain of custody of keys and credentials through the district’s locksmith shop. The high cost of key replacement has also been drastically reduced.

The new system is streamlined and is much easier for assigning expiration dates for credentials compared to traditional key-tracking methods It provides immediate updates for lost or compromised smart cards, plus significant reduced cost for replacement of credentials, easy and efficient scheduling and monitoring of access to specific areas for designated staff, such as tracking of who initiates use of a facility, scheduling access at an appropriate time, monitoring how long the activity takes place, and a district wide lockdown procedure that involves rapidly securing all doors in the event of an emergency.

CJUHSD Superintendent Mat Holton believed the lockdown feature was a critical requirement.

“The lockdown and emergency open features are an important additional component for the overall security of our many campuses and the entire campus community, including faculty, staff, students, parents and our local first responders,” Holton said. “Our staff has included the new technology during drills conducted at school sites with the participation of local police, sheriff, and fire departments.”

According to Romo, key in the smooth transition from mechanical to SALTO’s electronic lock solution at Chaffey schools has been the ability of end users to quickly learn the system.

“The product is incredibly intuitive and is easy to use, which is why we do not have to take a great deal of time in training the end user,” Romo said. “Our training is usually half of one day and covers the primary topics of how to use access cards, determining battery life of the lock, and learning the software. We make ourselves available to end users for additional training, but we rarely get that request.”

After using the system for more than two years, Holton said Chaffey schools now have an efficient, cost-effective, flexible and scalable solution.

“The solution is easy to use, accurate, and allows us to more efficiently manage a range of buildings and facilities across the district,” Holton said. “The time and valuable resources we now save are substantial.”

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Security Today.

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