Upgrading Electronics

Upgrading Electronics

New Jersey school improves its locking system

Located about 20 miles northwest of Newark, Livingston Public Schools serve almost 5,800 students with an instructional staff of 524 in its K-12 system. Its nine schools include six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. Some of these buildings date back to the 1940s and 1950s while others were built within the past few years, including a new science and athletic building at the high school.

To help secure their schools, the Livingston Public School system started with an initial installation of several off-line, computer-managed locks and has moved to online electronic locks with multi-technology readers that accommodate its proximity card system while also providing flexibility for future generations of credentials.

Past Success Predicts the Future

Livingston’s move into electronic locking began several years ago when it installed Schlage computer-managed, offline locks on exterior doors at its elementary schools. Paul Ko, manager of buildings and grounds, said that this was done to provide a single, controlled point of access in which staff members could access with a proximity card reader.

Recently, the district added Schlage AD-400 wireless electronic locks and XceedID proximity credentials. These locks provide online, real-time access control for exterior doors and are managed by the same software as the existing offline locks within a single database. These new locks are wireless, which made installation easier than running wires to each door and provided flexibility in locating locks to meet future needs.

These locks are designed with easily changeable reader modules so they can be upgraded without changing the entire lock. They combine all the required hardware components into one integrated design that incorporates the electrified lock, credential reader, request-to-exit and door position switches, and tamper guard.

The most extensive system is at the high school. Ko said that six entrances at the high school are controlled by these locks to provide convenient access from multiple parking lots while helping to protect students, teachers, staff and school assets.

They provide the flexibility needed to accommodate other people’s schedules, such as athletic coaches, who need after- hours access to specific facilities. He added that the system’s software makes it easy to update access privileges and schedules, as well as manage locking and closing schedules.

Present-day Security

Livingston Public Schools use a combination photo identification badge and proximity card credential. Ko said that these are carried on a lanyard by all faculty and staff members and also are used for other purposes, such as to access a district-wide, networked copier system.

For mechanically-keyed locks on interior doors, this school is installing Schlage ND-Series cylindrical locks with an Everest key system. These locks include a function that allows a teacher to secure a door from inside a classroom, rather than having to go into a corridor to lock the door during an emergency situation. In some cases, hardware with this function is being installed on exterior doors that have electronic locks to facilitate a quick lockdown when bringing students in from recess.

Most Livingston schools are keyed so that all teachers in the school have the same key. At the high school, for example, keys are divided by sections or departments, so the science and music department might be keyed differently. If a key is lost, this approach reduces the number of locks that must be rekeyed by restricting them to one building, department or area.

Other hardware solutions that support Livingston’s school security include LCN door closers that ensure doors are properly closed and latched; LCN Auto Equalizer power door operators that provide easier access for those with disabilities; and Von Duprin XP99-Series exit devices that combine greater security with emergency egress.

Other Types of Security

In addition to the access control system, Livingston restricts visitor access to one secure entrance equipped with either a camera and card reader or a buzzer and intercom.

“We acknowledge them and also photograph them going in and out,” Ko said. “We also have an expanse of cameras throughout the building so we can monitor the hallways.”

According to township code, Ko said that the schools conduct a fire and lockdown drill every month.

“In each lockdown drill, the police will conduct a different version, possibly an interior or exiting drill, and at a different time of day to reflect real situations,” Ko said.

As with most school security systems, Livingston’s plans continue to evolve, combining improvements and upgrades in electronic and mechanical solutions with video monitoring and staff involvement.

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

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