A Wing and A Prayer

A Wing and A Prayer

Integrating multiple card reader and key systems into one access control solution

Nearly 3,000 members, plus parents and children from the community, use the Bartlett United Methodist Church in Bartlett, Tenn, as their home base for worship services, preschool and recreational activities. The original facility burned in 1923, destroying the church’s 19th century sanctuary at Court Street and Stage Road. Today, an antique wooden pew displayed on a lower floor of BUMC is the only item saved from the original facility. There are scratches in the wood from years of seating church members, but the pew escaped the 1923 blaze without damage. Since rebuilding on the corner of Stage Road and Shelby Street in 1924, BUMC has grown to more than 120,000 square feet across three different interconnected buildings.

“We had three different key systems in the past, including mechanical locks and keys,” said Eddie Lindsey, the building engineer at BUMC. “One gentleman even brought in a set of keys from 15 years ago that still opened some of the doors.”

As church membership grew, in both members and square footage, leaders were challenged with increasing security requirements and integrating multiple card reader systems under one software management program. They also needed greater access control after more than 80 years in the same facility. With more than 200 access points, the time and money required to rekey or install a hardwired system was simply not a practical solution.

Another challenge BUMC faced was managing access to its preschool, recreational and other community activities located on the premises. The BUMC multi-facility campus is cornerstone to the community. Ensuring the safety and security of the children, parents and staff is critical and not possible with traditional mechanical locks and keys.


BUMC established control over its access points by beta testing the Cyber- Lock Flex System on all 200 exterior doors at its multi-facility campus. Over time, they have added Flex to 60 more doors to manage access to all of the interior office doors, maintenance closets and even some of the classrooms. Because CyberLock electronic cylinders can be quickly retrofitted into existing hardware, Lindsey is able to easily switch out the mechanical lock cores with CyberLock electronic cores.

There are 79 staff and volunteers who have access permissions set in the CyberLock software. Some of them use CyberKey smart keys for access and others use Flex System card readers. To meet BUMC’s specific needs regarding facility access for outdoor programs and community events, they have two CyberKey smart keys that can be checked out for use by church volunteers so access can be granted and managed, even for temporary users. The CyberLock Flex System is comprised of a variety of modules that can be mixed and matched to create a custom access control system tailored to each facility. The modules are plugged into a Hub which is connected via a network connection to the management software.

“The Flex System allows us to manage our current card reader system and our CyberLock key-centric solution with one management software,” Lindsay said.

Embedded memory in the Hub stores access permissions and saves audit trail information, enabling continuous operation even when a network connection to the software is interrupted. More importantly, power outages can be mitigated by connecting a backup battery or auxiliary power source directly to the Hub. There are many Flex System modules available for a customized access control system. Input modules such as RFID readers and keypad displays can be used individually or combined for dual- credential door access. The door & I/O module expands the capabilities of the Flex System even further.

As a door controller, it provides power to an electric door strike and unlocks the door when an approved card is presented. The door & I/O module has additional inputs and outputs that can control relay devices such as alarms, speakers, cameras or sensors. Finally, it can connect to compatible third-party 26-bit Wiegand devices such as HID readers and biometric scanners.

For worship facilities similar to BUMC, the useful features of the CyberLock Flex System increase both security and convenience. Flex enables facilities to control the flow of traffic during community events, program a lobby door to lock and unlock according to a customizable schedule or activate lighting automatically when a door is opened. For increased security, the end user can even activate a video or still camera when a door is accessed or sound an alarm when a door remains open beyond a set amount of time.

With CyberLock, no expensive wiring or damaging concrete core-drilling is needed for installation. Existing mechanical cylinders inside each door are simply replaced with CyberLock electronic cylinders. Now, worship facilities can respond quickly when a key is lost, and they no longer face the stress and expense of re-keying their facilities. The audit trail from the locks and keys helps them investigate any unusual situations. Because each person’s smart key is programmed with the individual permissions they need to do their job, worship facilities can maintain tighter access control without any added inconvenience.

As the only access control solution made entirely in the United States, durability is a preeminent feature. CyberLock products go through rigorous quality control testing at the manufacturing facility in Corvallis, OR, and can function in harsh weather environments from the Arctic to the Equator. Since BUMC was a beta test site for the Flex System, feedback from BUMC administrators has been vital to improvements introduced in updated system versions.

“After providing feedback to our reseller, some of the newer updates have made it easier in programming schedules,” Lindsay said. “The local reseller, Peifer Safe & Lock, does a great job with installation and support and it makes my job easier. Knowing that support is local and responsive and that the system is designed to be scalable and easy to install, Lindsey continues to expand his CyberLock system as time and budget allow.”

The CyberLock Flex System is the only access control solution that offers both hardwired and key-centric technologies within a single software package. The CyberLock Flex System clearly provides the most cost-effective solution when compared to hardwired systems and mechanical locks. As BUMC has discovered, there is no longer a need to choose between the versatility of a key-centric system and traditional, hardwired access control. The church continues to grow the system, integrating two or three doors at a time, as its budget allows. For BUMC and many other worship facilities, the CyberLock Flex System provides the best of both worlds.

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

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