Smart Cards Boost Security

University boosts campus-wide switchover to electronic locks

In a bold move to improve security, specifically in student housing, Miami University (MU) in Oxford, Ohio replaced mechanical locks on more than 4,000 residence rooms and installed electronic locks and smart card credentials on others during a 90-day summer break.

Miami, named after the local Indian Tribe, is a public university that was established in 1809. As a residential university with approximately 16,000 enrolled students, Miami offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study, master’s degrees in more than 50 areas and a number of doctoral degrees.

Over the course of its 200 year history, five different types of mechanical locks had been used. Rekeying for lost

keys was costly and challenging. These and other concerns led university administrators to find a solution to improve security for students, faculty and staff while enhancing ease of access.

Improving Security Effectively

The most effective solution was to replace the different key systems completely and manage access privileges electronically. The university wanted a system where closed doors to resident rooms would always be locked to ensure a secure living environment. Converting the dorm rooms to electronic locks and card readers would provide this assurance.

The plan called for contactless credentials that provide a “secure handshake” between the card and reader, with the added ability to handle one-card, point-of-sale (POS) functions such as dining, laundry and vending machines. The solution also needed to monitor door props electronically and manage lockouts, while providing short-term access with an audit trail for staff.

Because some of the university’s buildings were almost 200 years old, a comprehensive master plan to renovate and upgrade housing was being developed. Security improvements were factored into the master plan and bonds were issued to fund the project.

The university selected Schlage AD- 400 wireless locks and Schlage aptiQ contactless smart card credentials, together with CBORD CS Access software.

“We were making a huge investment and wanted to put in the technology where we thought the technology was headed,” said Larry Fink, who retired recently as assistant vice president for housing and auxiliaries finance at the university.

The choice of credentials was an essential element of providing the desired level of security. Magnetic stripe technology has been around for years, but is prone to wear and damage. Proximity cards are more durable, but they can be hacked. Contactless smart cards appeared to meet the university’s tough criteria, especially since the aptiQ cards provide a two-way dialogue between the card and reader, instead of just reading a card serial number (CSN).

AptiQ cards are based on MIFARE DESFire EV1 technology. They use extra layers of security with protection-mutual authentication, AES 128-bit diversified key encryption and message authentication coding (MAC). The open architecture design allows a wide range of card applications, making it well-suited to the university’s diverse needs.

“The ‘secure handshake’ of information between the aptiQ card and the ADSeries wireless lock makes this format very difficult to hack or copy,” Fink said.

The AD-Series locks provide online, real-time lock control and integrate fully with CS Access software. Since they are designed with easily changeable reader modules, they can be upgraded in the future without changing the entire lock.

These locks simplified the installation process because they combine all hardware components required at the door into one integrated design. They incorporate the electrified lock, credential reader, request-to-exit and enter sensors, door position switch, tamper guard and more. Wireless operation also made them easier and more cost-effective to install in existing buildings on campus.

The scalable system controls access to interior and exterior residence hall doors, as well as academic and administrative buildings, while integrating fully into the university’s CS Gold program for dining, vending and other POS applications. The system features mobile CS access, such as text messages, for instant room access, which lessens inconvenience for university staff, especially during odd hours. In fact, texting was used approximately 138,000 times during the first nine months of operation.

Progress under Pressure

Such projects typically take several years, but Miami University wanted all students living on campus to experience safety and security simultaneously, which meant completing the project over one busy summer and during additional facility upgrades.

Regardless of the time constraint, door preparations were completed, new electronic locks were installed on 4,307 dorm rooms and other interior doors, and magnetic strip readers replaced on 325 exterior doors. Approximately 650 interior doors were replaced to bring them current on fire code.

The complete software and hardware systems were installed, configured and brought online in time for the start of the 2011-2012 academic year. Only 135 locks had to be installed later.

Building on a History of Collaboration

Since Ingersoll Rand and CBORD had a history of working with Miami University, they easily formed a close-knit team to develop and implement the campus-wide changes. For more than 30 years, the campus has been protected by Ingersoll Rand’s Von Duprin exit devices and LCN door closers, sister brands to Schlage locks. Over the same time, CBORD expanded its food service system to track inventory, manage menus and analyze nutrition.

In addition to security upgrades, the university realized substantial savings by eliminating rekeying and minimizing lockout calls. According to Fink, the university was generating approximately 1,200 locksmith orders per year with the mechanical key system. Fink said re-coring and rekeying could cost up to $15,000 and often took several days to complete.

The university is currently completing installation across the campus in academic and administrative buildings. When finished, almost 900 exterior doors will be online, including 525 in residential buildings and 364 in academic and administrative areas. Card readers are now used at some POS locations, including dining and vending machines. Fink noted the smart cards accommodate dual technology, with tap-and-go operation on campus and magnetic strip credentials used at local merchants.

To help returning students learn how the new security system works, the university produced several YouTube videos explaining smart-card use and application, and further created posters summarizing solutions for lost or forgotten cards.

In addition to cost savings and greater security benefits, the university said students and parents have complimented the peace-of-mind they feel the new security system provides.

This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Security Today.


  • President Biden Issues Executive Order to Bolster U.S Port Cybersecurity

    On Wednesday, President Biden issued an Executive Order to bolster the security of the nation’s ports, alongside a series of additional actions that will strengthen maritime cybersecurity and more Read Now

  • Report: 15 Percent of All Emails Sent in 2023 Were Malicious

    VIPRE Security Group recently released its report titled “Email Security in 2024: An Expert Look at Email-Based Threats”. The 2024 predictions for email security in this report are based on an analysis of over 7 billion emails processed by VIPRE worldwide during 2023. This equates to almost one email for everyone on the planet. Of those, roughly 1 billion (or 15%) were malicious. Read Now

  • ASIS Announces ANSI-Approved Cannabis Security Standard

    ASIS International, a leading authority in security standards and guidelines, proudly announces the release of a pioneering American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved standard dedicated to cannabis security. This best-in-class standard, meticulously developed by industry experts, sets a new benchmark by providing comprehensive requirements and guidance for the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and maintenance of a cannabis security program. Read Now

  • ISC West Announces Keynote Lineup

    ISC West, in collaboration with premier sponsor the Security Industry Association (SIA), announced this year’s dynamic trio of speakers that will headline the Keynote Series at ISC West 2024. Read Now

    • Industry Events

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • ResponderLink


    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • Connect ONE’s powerful cloud-hosted management platform provides the means to tailor lockdowns and emergency mass notifications throughout a facility – while simultaneously alerting occupants to hazards or next steps, like evacuation.

    Connect ONE®

    Connect ONE’s powerful cloud-hosted management platform provides the means to tailor lockdowns and emergency mass notifications throughout a facility – while simultaneously alerting occupants to hazards or next steps, like evacuation. 3

  • Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems, an industry-leading manufacturer of pedestrian and vehicle secure entrance control access systems, is pleased to announce the release of its groundbreaking V07 software. The V07 software update is designed specifically to address cybersecurity concerns and will ensure the integrity and confidentiality of Automatic Systems applications. With the new V07 software, updates will be delivered by means of an encrypted file. 3