Holding an Open Door

Putting a stop to propped doors

A top tier university serving more than 40,000 students needed a cost effective way to improve the level of security at its non-card access controlled doors. It is common practice throughout the campus to have card reader access control at the main entrance of the facilities, but the side and back doors are often not included as part of this system. The school did not want to limit egress through these doors, but did want to make sure that they stayed secured and locked when not in use. It was not uncommon to find these unmonitored doors propped open as students would use the side doors as shortcuts, providing an opportunity for unwanted intruders to just walk in and take advantage of the situation.

A Policy Change

After trying multiple options including new policy statements and putting up signs on the doors to deter door propping, the university decided that some form of device would be needed to make sure that the doors stayed closed and locked from the outside. The director of security and his staff started out with a homemade design using discreet components such as timer modules, relays and sounders to make various configurations of door alarms for the non-card access controlled doors.

While in low volumes this was acceptable, it quickly became a nuisance and was not cost effective for the installers to put together the different configurations of door alarms that were needed for the various entry and exit applications.

After producing several different custom built products and looking at commercially available produced options, they standardized on the Designed Security, Inc. ES4200 Door Management Alarms.

The versatility of the ES4200 proved to be just the product for use on the various doors throughout a variety of campus facilities. The university first used the Door Prop Alarms at the residence halls where they had issues of propped exit doors. Typically these doors exited to the parking areas or side yards and were used by the students as a shortcut.

“We did not want to fully stop people from using the doors to exit, but wanted to ensure the door would be closed and not remain propped open.” said the director of security. “We used the ES4200- K1-T0 and set the timer so that it allowed students to exit using the emergency exits, and if the door was not closed it would give a local alarm after a preset period of time, typically 10 seconds.”

A Remote Alarm

If the local alarm was not responded to in a reasonable period of time, a remote alarm signal could be sent back to the security desk and someone would be dispatched to make sure the door was secure. The availability of a key switch on the unit also allowed university staff local control to override or shunt the device for events or building maintenance.

Once the usefulness and versatility of the product was tested and proven on the dormitory doors, the university found other applications for the device. For emergency exit doors the ES4200 could be configured as an exit alarm that would alarm immediately if a security door was opened from the inside or outside of the building.

The product also fit well into library locations where doors must be secured and monitored at all times. Units installed in the library triggered an immediate alarm, which was sent to a local display panel and through an interface with the access control system, pulled up a video camera image of the door in question.

With the installation of the door management alarm, this university found a versatile, cost effective, easy to install product that they could standardize on for many of their door monitoring and alarming applications. With its field selectable timing and input/output options that can be used stand alone or in conjunction with the existing access control system, the system met all of the requirements. The university now has a way to monitor and manage non-access controlled doors throughout the campus, and by doing so has improved the security and safety of their students, faculty and their property.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Mark Crandall is the operations manager and vice president at Designed Security, Inc.

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