College Upgrades

College Upgrades

Wireless locks in place at Queensborough campus

College Upgrades Wireless locks in place at Queensborough campusReflecting the uniqueness and diversity of the local Queens’ community, for more than 50 years, Queensborough Community College has served students from Queens and the entire New York City region as a starting place to pursue their academic and career goals. This educational facility serves more than 15,000 students, who are enrolled in associate degree or certificate programs, as well as another 10,000 students attending continuing education programs. Students typically attend to either transfer to a four-year college or university or to obtain the skills necessary for career advancement.

Since Queensborough students do not live on campus, this community college has no housing security issues, leaving the school’s main concerns to include securing property and expensive equipment along with simplifying the process of access control. Therefore, to upgrade its building security and simplify access control management, Queensborough Community College replaced mechanical and offline locks with online wireless locks that incorporate interchangeable card readers with the flexibility to accommodate future generations of credentials.

“We were installing a lot of high-tech podiums that have video displays and electronic white boards,” said James McKee, administrative superintendent. “Because of their expense, we wanted to protect the equipment against theft and vandalism, so we started by installing offline, electronic locks.”

Originally, the college used computer-managed, offline locks that worked well with a relatively small number of interior doors. As security needs increased, though, uploading and downloading data from each lock with a handheld device became too time consuming, so a practical solution for upgrading the locks was needed. In addition, the college was in the process of implementing a Blackboard Transact system to manage access control and transactions across the campus and needed a solution that would be compatible.

The Lock of Choice

To meet these needs, Queensborough selected Schlage AD-400 locks, providing online, real-time lock control. Because these locks are wireless, installation was easier and less expensive than running wires to each door, especially since many of the campus buildings are 30 to 40 years old.

These locks 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, and door position switch and tamper guard.

Lock Installation

The college began by installing the locks in three major facilities: the science building, the humanities building and, most recently, the medical arts building. All three included areas where there was expensive, high-tech equipment that could be subject to theft or vandalism.

“They were just regular classrooms to begin with, so they didn’t even have highsecurity locks with restricted keys,” McKee said.

McKee estimates that approximately 125 AD-400 locks now are installed in the three buildings. Each floor typically has two Panel Interface Module (PIM) units hard-wired to the panels that transmit data from the wireless locks to the Blackboard system.

Many of the doors now equipped with the electronic locks originally had a unit lock that required a cutout in the door. Removing these locks made it necessary to install a special filler plate to cover the cutout before installing the AD-Series lock. McKee said that using the filler plates saved the expense of replacing the doors.

Even More Security

A new perimeter door security program is now underway to upgrade campus-wide cameras and access control. In most cases, these doors will be equipped with the AD-Series locks and Von Duprin 993 Exit Trim. Both the cameras and access control products will be hardwired for these applications.

Other than a few proximity cards used by building and grounds staff for parking access, magnetic stripe cards are used for all credentials. These are compatible with both the electronic locks and the Blackboard system. In addition to building access, McKee said that these cards are used for other types of transactions such as student parking. “Instead of buying tokens, they just swipe their card, which gives them access and charges a parking fee to their account,” MeKee said.

The card system also makes it easier to control access and less expensive to make changes than with the mechanical keys that were used previously in many of the buildings. While turnover is relatively low for full-time professors, there is a higher rate of change for adjunct professors and other staff members. In these cases, as well as for lost cards, a change to the database can be made and new cards issued quickly.

As an active research facility, the Queensborough faculty includes 62 percent with doctorates, many of whom are engaged in research and publication in their academic fields. Frequently, ongoing experiments in various laboratories must be secured to prevent them from being disturbed. In most cases, the college uses highsecurity mechanical keys and regulates their distribution tightly to control these areas. McKee said that key control is generally not a problem for these functions.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Security Today.

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