University Upgrades to Electronic Locks

University Upgrades to Electronic Locks

Existing credentials are still part of the security mix

University UpgradesLocated in Orem, Utah, Utah Valley University (UVU) was established in 1941 as Central Utah Vocational School, primarily to provide war production training. Since then, the school has undergone several name changes and expansions of its mission, culminating in Utah Valley University in 2008. Today, the university’s facilities consist of a combined total of 312 acres, with 46 buildings on its main campuses in Orem and Heber City, in addition to property at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.

UVU upgraded its access control system to electronic locks with multi-tech readers that accommodate its newly-implemented, one-card system while providing flexibility for future generations of credentials. Keyed hardware was also upgraded without requiring the university to change its existing key system.

Locks Moving Online

The move to online, electronic locks began a few years ago with the need to improve security at an off-campus art museum operated by the university. The building was controlled by an offline keypad that required frequent visits by campus police. Changing to an online system was needed to allow remote monitoring and management, but hardwiring would have been difficult and unattractive.

“We were waiting for the Schlage AD-400 wireless lock that was just coming out because it wasn’t practical to hardwire the building,” said Locksmith Terry Taylor.

At the same time, a new library building had just been completed with proximity card readers and locks on the exterior doors. Once the building was in operation, it was decided that some classroom doors also needed electronic locks.

“Everything was built using hardwood doors with six-inch stiles and solid glass doors, so we would have had to run conduit that would have looked ugly in a brand new building,” Taylor said. “We tried the AD wireless locks instead, and they worked great.”

New Construction Leads to Hardwired Locks

Shortly thereafter, planning began for access control in the new Pope Science Building. With new construction, hardwired locks were a logical choice. Based on experience with wireless locks, the university selected Schlage AD-300 devices for the applications. Both types integrate seamlessly with the school’s Lenel On- Guard security management system and incorporate multi-card readers that accept the MIFARE smart cards already in use.

Approximately 70 electronic locks were installed on interior doors in the new building. The AD-Series locks provide online, real-time lock control and are designed with easily-changeable reader modules, so they can be upgraded in the future without changing the entire lock. They combine all the hardware components required at the door into one integrated design that incorporates the electrified lock, credential reader, request-to-exit switch, door position switch, tamper guard and more.

The devices’ multi-tech card reading capability made it easier to transition from the existing proximity cards to the new MIFARE smart cards as they were phased in.

“It took us four to six weeks to change 130 readers. People could still use their old cards during the transition because the new locks would accept them. Once we completed the changeover, we shut off the old cards, so everyone had to use the new ones,” Taylor noted.

Although electronic locks and Schlage XceedID proximity card readers control access to the new science building’s exterior doors, the online locks inside provide added security and control functions. Taylor said that they make it possible to give students access to specific laboratories during designated hours and capture audit trails for review, if needed. He added that people like them because they don’t need to carry keys, and the doors are always locked for greater security. Locksmith Rick Chappell points out that when replacing existing locks with the electronic models, their footprint covers previous prep and eliminates the need for extra work.

The flexibility of the Schlage AD-Series locks also helps the university accommodate expansion needs.

“We’re land-locked, so every time a home comes up for sale next to the campus, the university buys it,” Taylor said. “We have the ROTC offices in one and our web developers in another, but it’s not cost effective to install a Lenel panel and pull wires through a house.” Instead, the use of offline AD-200 locks with a keypad can be upgraded easily for networked use in the future.

Versatility Simplifies Mechanical Lock Upgrades

In addition, mechanical key locks were upgraded as part of the science building’s access control system. To complement the building’s Schlage electronic locks, UVU approved the use of Schlage ND-Series locks, an ANSI Grade 1 cylindrical design built for the constant use of university and other commercial applications. However, the university wanted to keep its existing key system.

“We didn’t want to add another key system and have to carry more types of keys,” Taylor said.

The answer was to use the Schlage locks but substitute cylinders that use the existing key system. The modularity of the ND locks provided the flexibility to accommodate the key-in-lever and SFIC cores already in use. This let the university upgrade the lock hardware without incurring the expense and inconvenience of adding another key system. At the same time, Von Duprin Series 98 Exit Devices were selected for their durable construction and compatibility with the lock hardware.

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

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