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Access Control System Closes Security Loophole on Campus

Most people wouldn't consider a key and lock-based entry system a problem, but officials at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania's historical all-female liberal arts college, certainly did.



Most people wouldn't consider a key and lock-based entry system a problem, but officials at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania's historical all-female liberal arts college, certainly did.

If a student who lived in one of the 11 residence halls and houses lost her brass key, the individual door was re-cored, but the front door key remained unchanged. That meant front door keys proliferated. And while there had never been a real problem, no one knew when an old front door key might fall into malicious hands.

To solve the problem, the college appointed a committee to investigate a one card system with access control capabilities. Committee members included representatives from dining services, administrative services, public safety, facilities services, the information technology (IT) department and the three major libraries.

In 2003, Bryn Mawr entered into an agreement with NuVision Networks to install the one-card system, which would include an associated multi-user, multi-platform-based 5E access control system by Compass Technologies.

Installation began in May 2004, as classes ended for the semester, with work complete when students returned in August. Every residence hall and the three main libraries had access control installed and operational, for a total of more than 180 doors, 90 of them access points.

Considering the access-equipped doors, it was necessary to decide if an alarm would be bypassed locally or remotely, the status of the electric bypass lock, request for bypass, and other scenarios that that door might have. Reader control modules, output modules and how to connect doors without readers were considered. Each door on campus required individual assessment.

Contractors wired every alarm input the same in all buildings, a move intended to reduce costs on future changes and repairs.

Under the new system, vendors now report to the facility office and sign out access control devices they need, which creates a record of their movements.

The Compass system also included a door prop alarm on every exterior door, reducing the number of doors propped open by students. A bypass allows the doors to be propped open during moves without trigging the alarm.


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