Dollars and Sense
Wireless solutions help various security managers, integrators opt in
- By Jennifer Toscano
- Oct 05, 2009
When Diablo Valley College in California converted its life
science building to an advanced technology center, it upgraded
the building's security without the need for hard wiring.
Jack Shaffer, facilities project manager for the district,
said the major remodeling project was more like a retrofit,
with wireless locks fitting in nicely. He also said access control went even smoother
because the integrator didn't have to pull cables to each opening.
"Initially, we installed the new locks on all the classrooms to secure high-dollar
items, such as computers and projectors," Shaffer said. "Later, the technology department
wanted to upgrade security on all the office and storage areas where they
also stored equipment. All we had to do was bolt on another wireless lock for each
door and enter it into the system."
Access control is managed by a Schlage Security Management System, a Windows-
based software program, which lets the district link all its wireless locks in
real time. The system resides in a central server in the district office.
"If someone swipes a card on campus, it shows up as an activity in the office 15
miles away," Shaffer said.
Calculating the Savings
Real-life installations prove that wireless solutions often have substantially lower
installation costs than wired alternatives because wireless systems use less hardware
and install between five to 10 times faster. Even in situations that might once
have seemed impossible or impractical, retrofitting electronic access control systems
is easy and affordable with wireless solutions.
Wireless locking systems provide the same online, real-time capabilities as
wired systems and are compatible with most brands of access control panels. With
wireless access control, access privilege changes and audit records are available on
a common database located at the central control terminal, which simplifies data
entry and management.
For instance, Tri-City Mechanical, a 512-employee design/build contractor in
Chandler, Ariz., uses wireless access control locking systems to reduce false alarm
calls at its 77,000-square-foot facility.
"People weren't locking the doors,
and we were having numerous false
alarm calls," said Ken Brown, building
manager for Tri-City Mechanical. "We
only needed access control on six doors
so we did not want a complex system or
one that would be costly to install.
"We decided on wireless because the
facility was already built, and it would
have been next to impossible to run conduit.
Although the hardware is a little
more expensive than hardwired units,
the installation labor cost of wireless is
a fraction of wired, so the tremendous
savings in installation was worth it."
For outdoor applications, like vehicle
and pedestrian gate access, wireless links
will bridge up to 1,000 feet, eliminating
costly trenching. As such, wireless systems
are ideal for garages, parking lots,
airports, utility companies and military
bases. They are especially cost effective
for controlling gates around a facility.
Also, optional directional or gain antennas
are available for distances up to
4,000 feet away.
Reduce Installation Time
Anyone installing a door access control
application should consider wireless simply
because a wireless locking solution
takes 45 minutes to install versus an average
of eight hours for a wired solution.
This saves labor and material costs.
Mississippi State University's Ruby
Hall is a three-story/160,000-squarefoot
building that houses 400 freshmen.
Because it would be too expensive
to hardwire locks to each dorm
room, wireless locks were installed on
each of the 223 rooms.
Not only were the wireless locks less
expensive to install, but according to
Richard Tollison, the university's manager
of data services, installation took
60 to 90 minutes per door versus one to
two days for wired locks.
When Wireless Makes Sense
Since wireless systems are less invasive,
they are ideal for difficult-to-wire
situations and new construction projects.
Importantly, they also retain the
integrity of historical buildings and
avoid the potential asbestos issues of
Elevators are prime candidates for a
wireless system. While traveling cables
are routinely included at the time of installation,
they are often ill equipped to
reliably transport credential data from
the cab to the elevator controller. Elevator
shafts are harsh electrical environments
and are often the source of datacorrupting
noise that becomes induced
onto the card reader data lines. This
causes inconsistent performance, which
often worsens over time as cable shielding
decays due to continual movement.
Conversely, wireless solutions eliminate
the need for the data lines in elevators
up to 1,000 feet. In fact, they
thrive in this environment and provide
consistent, reliable data transport that
doesn't wear out. With traveling cable
installation costs ranging from $2,600
to $13,000 or more per cab, wireless alternatives
can save thousands of dollars
Open-architecture designs allow for seamless integration of wireless solutions with existing access control systems and
provide limitless choices when installing a new system. The result is having one
access system for both traditional wired and wireless openings, one database to
manage and one transaction screen to monitor.
Heartland Church in Indianapolis was founded in October 2001 and has been
growing ever since. It draws 900 attendees for weekend worship services. The
church renovated a former computer store to house a state-of-the-art 1,000 seat
auditorium and childcare center.
"Our church is at a major intersection of Interstate 69," Pastor Darryn Scheske
said. "The intersection has the second highest traffic count in the state, so security
was a key concern."
Church officials needed to secure the auditorium to protect their substantial
investment in musical equipment and other technology. As a result, Heartland
Church called on Central Indiana Hardware, an Ingersoll Rand Security Center,
Eight doors throughout the church property now use the Schlage bright blue
Web-enabled access control solution. Authorized users enter via proximity cards
and Schlage proximity card readers.
The exterior door to the church auditorium and daycare center are hardwired
to the controller because of its high throughput. This door also needed to have an
exit device and handicap accessibility. Because wire had to be run from the door to
the controller, it took a little longer to install the locking system.
For the other seven interior doors, the central Indiana team recommended using
wireless access control, which seamlessly integrates into the system's access
control panel, eliminating wire between the lock and the access control panel and
providing a complete solution at each opening.
"It's so easy to use wireless in such an application," said Ron Couch, vice president
of Central Indiana Hardware. "Not only were the readers installed quickly, we
saved the church all the labor costs associated with a typical wired installation."
Even in installations where conditions appear too extreme for wireless signals, such
as areas near thick concrete walls with steel rebar, the capabilities of the system's
900 MHz transmissions are hearty.
The University of Albany's upstate New York campus is the second largest
concrete structure in the United States, after the Pentagon. When the university
wanted to upgrade and expand its magnetic stripe-based locking system, its thick
concrete walls made it cost prohibitive to hardwire the campus after the fact. The
university investigated many options and ultimately chose to go wireless.
"Wireless locks are a natural fit," said Brian McCarthy, University of Albany's
Ryan Webb, State University of New York card system administrator, added,
"They make the most sense for replacement and expansion. There is an immense
cost savings in both labor and time."
Wired or Wireless
What's important is that end users and their integrators don't need to choose
between wired and wireless access control for their application.
From a financial standpoint, it's quite easy to determine whether
one should be promoting wired, wireless or a combination of the
two for an upcoming job.
Jennifer Toscano is the marketing manager at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Schlage Electronic Security, electronic locks.