Moving From Mechanic to Electric

Hemet Unified School District upgrades mechanical locks

Hemet Unified School District serves more than 21,000 students across 28 school campuses. Located in Southern California, HUSD is one of the largest geographical districts in California, covering over 650 square miles including the communities of Hemet, Anza, Idyllwild, Aguanga and Winchester. HUSD staffs approximately 1,040 certified employees, 1,130 classified employees and 1,100 substitute employees.

Challenge

In 2017, the HUSD sought to upgrade existing mechanical locks to electronic locks. With more than 5,000 doors across 28 campuses districtwide, the transition was sure to be a significant undertaking.

HUSD Director of Security Christopher Wynn said the District elected to upgrade to electronic access control due to many benefits, including the capability to quickly lock down doors remotely in an emergency. Additionally, the elimination of associated costs and time-consuming tasks commonly found with tracking and replacing traditional mechanical keys would benefit the District.

Wynn was previously a system integrator and has a great deal of knowledge about access control products, particularly those that are best suited for the unique needs of education. He and his team, consisting of Locksmiths Mark Sanchez and Steve Richardson, recommended installing SALTO Systems electronic locks, accessories and ProAccess SPACE management software to manage the system. The system will be utilized by more than 4,000 regular users once it is rolled out to all sites.

Solution

Wynn and his team have begun installing a combination of SALTO’s Wireless Real-Time Access Control System and SALTO Virtual Network (SVN) solutions. Wynn said they appreciated the capability of initially mixing both online and offline solutions as they begin the installation with the option of expanding the system to be fully online in the future.

SALTO’s SVN allows stand-alone locks to read, receive and write information via an encrypted and secure data-on-card system that utilizes the capabilities of RFID read/ write technology. With SVN, all access data is stored on and distributed by its operating smartcard (or other RFID credential). When presenting a smartcard to an offline standalone door, not only does this control access rights to that door but, thanks to two-way communication, the door also writes data like blacklist information or battery status back to the smartcard. The smartcard then transmits this information back to the server via online wall readers that are able to update and receive information from the cards anytime and anywhere in the building.

HUSD integrated the use of SALTO Padlocks and GEO Cylinders into the overall access control system. Within schools, there are a variety of special areas that benefit from the use of versatile electronic locking solutions where previously it was only possible to use a mechanical solution. Wynn said in a school environment like HUSD, this could include securing classroom cabinets or carts that carry computer notebooks from classroom to classroom.

Wynn, Sanchez and Richardson will manage the system via SALTO ProAccess SPACE management software. District site administrators will be authorized to issue replacement credentials and conduct cardholder programming.

One of the most important features of the new SALTO system, “is the ability to immediately lock all doors with the lockdown feature in ProAccess SPACE,” Wynn said. “We will use the lockdown procedures in all of our lockdown drills. The lockdown feature will be integrated into our crisis management plan and will enhance our ability to secure our school sites faster and more efficiently than using mechanical keys.”

Wynn said they are also working to integrate SALTO locks with Telecenter U, a software program that controls HUSD’s public address, phones and bell systems. “Teachers or staff members will be able to enter a code into a phone and the system will trigger a relay to the SALTO controller which will initiate a lockdown of the online locks,” Wynn said.

According to Wynn, the district is currently in the process of installing Telecenter U software at all school sites.

Wynn said HUSD’s transition to SALTO’s electronic access control system has gone smoothly and the end result will be a technologically-advanced solution that offers students and staff enhanced security.

“SALTO’s electronic access control solution for school districts can be hardwired, wireless or stand-alone—and the cost to deploy the system is far less than other access control systems,” Wynn said. “The ability to lock down doors remotely makes the system ideal for school districts; the locks are visually appealing and do not draw negative attention to themselves and there are a variety of credentials to choose from.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Security Today.

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