Centralizing disparate technologies ensures safety, security of students, staff.
York County School Division
in Yorktown, Va., has never
had a major security problem,
and that's the way they want to keep it.
To ensure the security of their facility
and safety of their students, officials installed
security systems in each of their
The equipment included several different
brands, and while each system
did a good job of protecting its building,
monitoring and maintaining the various
systems created some confusion and generated
In early 2000, York County schools
turned to ASI Security in Newport
News, Va., to better integrate their protection
"We replaced all of the various intrusion
panels with the DMP XR200,
and that made life a lot easier for the
division," said Bobby Schaffer, general
manager of ASI.
Several years later, ASI provided
the next phase of the system, which
involved integrating the fire protection
systems with intrusion detection.
ASI installed the network-ready DMP
XR500N panel, which enabled YCSD
to make the transition from dial-up to
The installation of the XR500N
with network communications laid the
groundwork for the final component of
the integrated system: access control.
Securing Building Access
"In the past, all of the exterior doors of
our schools had to be manually locked,"
said Mark Tschirhart, supervisor of resources
and security control at YCSD.
"We had no knowledge of whether
the doors were actually locked or even
closed without walking through the entire
building. We also found that when
teachers would go outside for physical
education class or other activities, they
would prop doors open, or would have
to knock on a window so they could get
back in the building."
The installation of the XR500N panels
provided the foundation for a fast
and affordable access control upgrade.
"They didn't have to purchase any
new control panels, software or computers,"
Schaffer said. "They just added
controllers, door contacts, electric strikes
and readers at each protected door. It
was easy to install."
The system was installed in 23
buildings with 220 controlled doors.
All exterior doors are monitored
through the system. The school division
replaced its existing employee
identification badges with new proximity
badges. Although they look
identical to the previous badges,
teachers and staff can now unlock
doors and arm or disarm the security
system with their badges.
Video intercoms were installed at the
main entrances of all the schools and at
other high-traffic entrances. Students
or visitors without an access badge
must use the video intercom to call the
front office, identify themselves and ask
to be admitted. The person monitoring
the intercom can then remotely unlock
Feeling More Secure
York County school administrators
now are confident that they have
schools that are safe and secure.
"Having just one door unsecure is
unacceptable," Tschirhart said. "We
can monitor the status of all exterior
doors and know that the teachers and
students are safe and secure."
Tschirhart also was glad to reduce
the number of keys.
"We had been issuing keys for years,
but there was no practical way to track
all of them," he said. "Some teachers did
not have keys for the exterior doors of
their school, but now through the use of
the access badges, they can open virtually
any exterior door. The result is that
there is no longer a need to prop open
doors or to bang on windows to get
back in the school."
Pushing the System to Do More
ASI Security monitors the schools' fire
and security systems remotely, but the
school division manages its own security
database and programs changes
to user profiles. Tschirhart describes
York as an intense user and said that
they required a high level of flexibility
in the system.
"We have more than 2,000 users with
very granular access requirements,"
Tschirhart said. "The programming flexibility
gave us the ability to create profiles
for each building and manage the different
hours that our users require.
"Our goal when we started was just
to maintain security. We were surprised
at how far we've been able to push the
system to give the teachers and staff
better access and convenience."
Surprised by the Acceptance
York administrators were braced
for some backlash when the access
control system went live. They expected
a little grumbling from parents
"We thought parents would complain
about having to go to the front door to
be buzzed in when they visited a school,"
Tschirhart said. "We had very few complaints,
and some parents actually asked
why we hadn't done it sooner."
Ironically, as the school system began
to install the card access system,
which provided increased control over
users, they actually made the building
more accessible to teachers. Equipped
with their proximity badges, they are
able to move more freely around their
facilities than ever before. Teachers
like the increased access
the new system
provides for them.