Standalone Locks Stand Out

Electronic standalone locks get high marks on healthcare and educational campuses, providing a level of security traditionally found in hardwired or networked solutions but without the associated costs.

With a battered economy creating
shortfalls in government budgets, states and other governmental bodies are cutting funding, including those for education and healthcare. At the same time, the need for heightened access control continues to rise. Fortunately, there is a way to bring increased access control to both types of campuses without busting the security budget.

Standalone, computer-managed (CM) locks are well suited to school or hospital situations where older doors or facilities need to be retrofitted with higher-security locks. CM locking systems offer many of the same benefits as a networked, hardwired system, without the higher cost and additional care associated with routing network cable when retrofitting an existing facility with electronic access control. These standalone, programmable, battery-powered locks are networked through software to provide audit trail capability and time-based scheduling for restricting access.

Whatever the credential used (proximity card, magnetic stripe card, iButton) or PIN (personal identification number) on a keypad, user-friendly software usually can program all components, including the locks, access trim and offline hardwired controllers (which manage strikes and magnets) from a laptop or PDA. New users, access points and access privileges can be entered into the system in seconds. The locks also provide an audit trail capability.

Typical per-door installation costs average less than $1,000, including installation expenses.

K-12 Institutions Can Easily Upgrade Access Control
For instance, temporary classrooms led to a permanent upgrade in security for Birmingham (Mich.) Public Schools, which serve more than 7,900 K-12 students in Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Franklin and parts of six other suburban communities north of Detroit. When the school district needed a flexible access control system for several portable buildings, it found that Schlage computer-managed (CM) programmable locks made it easy to control building access without the problems of managing a complex key issuance and revocation system.

Maintaining key control and keeping security effective had been difficult with mechanical keys alone. The district started investigating electronic access control but leaned away from magnetic stripe cards or other credentials that could be lost, stolen, damaged or misused. Skilled Trades/Grounds Supervisor Rob J. Carson adds that the cost of providing cards, iButton fobs or other credentials to a large number of people and managing or replacing them could be expensive. Instead, they chose CM locks that are programmable and push-button activated.

“PIN codes are free, and with people being used to having codes for ATMs, we felt comfortable that they would be effective here,” says Carson. He adds that they went through a training program on how to protect the codes and use them properly.

“After we program them on our computer, we download the information to a Palm Pilot. We have an iButton key fob that puts the lock into a programming mode. Then, we just plug the Palm Pilot into the lock, download it in a couple of minutes, and we are finished. We don’t have to open them up like we did with the mechanical push-button locks.”

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