Kent State Campus Housing Undergoes Smart Lock Metamorphosis

Here’s how Kent State incorporated wireless locks to upgrade its residence hall access control.
Published: November 30, 2017

The needs of university residence halls in the United States require a specific and collaborative approach to security planning and infrastructure upgrades, and Kent State University is no different.

Campus housing facilities are some of the most densely populated residential spaces in the country, and the hardware components that go into these facilities are typically put under a great deal of wear and tear.

Further, the need to keep students and their belongings safe and secure is critical for learning environments. The result of these demands is a need to provide robust yet simple solutions for those overseeing residence halls and campus security.

An access control upgrade at Kent State (Ohio) University serves as an example of how universities are working with manufacturers and integrators to protect the students that live on campus while streamlining maintenance and administration costs.

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University Outlines 6 Objectives

Earlier this year, Kent State stakeholders took on the challenge of modernizing and upgrading its door security at more than 6,000 openings within its residence halls.

Seeking a digitized and streamlined solution, the university developed a set of core criteria for the transition that included:

  • Safe and reliable wireless electronic locks that work with the existing infrastructure.
  • Reduce dependencies on legacy systems.
  • Reduce manual maintenance processes.
  • Improve user experiences.
  • Streamline administrative processes.
  • Increase flexibility for future strategic planning.

School officials determined that the best way to meet these expectations was to develop strategic partnerships with a manufacturer and system provider able to work with the unique requirements of each client they assist.

The solution was found through access control and door hardware products from ASSA ABLOY and the integration and expertise of CBORD, which also provides its own management software specifically for universities.

“We wanted to offer the safest and most secure system possible, while also providing a reliable and positive experience for the thousands of students in on-campus housing,” says George Edmiston, residential technology manager at Kent State. “The scope of this project works out to about 6,500 locks across 25 residence hall buildings. Partnering with ASSA ABLOY, CBORD and various departments here at the university allows us to work on solutions together.”

Residence housing at campuses have different room types, along with move-in periods focused around very tight deadlines. To simplify the integration, Kent State opted to phase the installation in over a three-year period.

For the current 2017-18 school year, just over 1,800 doors have been upgraded. This modernized 10 of the 25 residential hall buildings.

Kent State Works Toward Wireless

The university opted for the Sargent Passport 1000 P2 mortise locks for the new access control hardware on the upgraded residence hall doors and openings. According to ASSA ABLOY, this wireless access control solution reduces installation costs and features an open architecture platform that integrates with many building control/residential management software systems.

For example, CBORD’s software management solution for campus access control works seamlessly with the Sargent locks.

Mark F. Jaimes, director of sales for CBORD points out the ability of the locks to store information, such as access credentials and backup codes, locally on the lock. Further, he notes the flexibility of the lock to integrate into different IT infrastructures — be it wired (PoE) or wireless (WiFi).

“The university is also future-proofing itself because the locks can use the Bluetooth Low Energy reader when they want to go to mobile credentialing,” Jaimes adds. “These are the solutions we offer our clients as integrators, and the partnership with ASSA ABLOY has worked well for us because they provide the same. It’s a very streamlined partnership.”

The industry jargon for the upgrade Kent State undertook is “magration,” a play on the migration from magnetic stripe technologies to a contactless credential.

“Like many universities, Kent State still uses magstripe as their main card technology,” says Patrick Hill, regional electronic access control campus manager for ASSA ABLOY. “The Passport 1000 locks allow them to continue using that format while affording them the opportunity to migrate in the future to a contactless credential like HID Seos. Kent also chose to order the locks with Bluetooth for future mobile credentials and, when they do migrate to contactless or mobile, they can continue to utilize magstripe cards for camps or conferences or other temporary solutions. It gives them options.”

Partnership Pays Off

Through the integration of CBORD services and ASSA ABLOY locks, Kent State has completed the first of its three-year plan to upgrade its access control system.

According to Edmiston, partnering with an integrator and manufacturer who work closely together was the right choice.

“We are absolutely meeting the goals we set,” says Edmiston. “While there are challenges and future innovations we would like to see implemented, for all six goals, we are where we want to be. We’re heading in the right direction as we continue to upgrade.”

As students returned to campus earlier this autumn, Edmiston says he felt “extremely confident” in the system and that confidence grew as he watched it perform. Further, the university was successfully reducing dependencies on legacy systems, reducing manual maintenance processes and streamlining administrative processes.

“We now have 10 buildings where staff doesn’t have to visit the doors to change the system manually,” he says. “And now we won’t have to collect old keys or issue new ones or even send out requests for those keys. It’s all being done on a single student ID card where we can grant or revoke access. We are absolutely going to see mobile credentialing through phones and other devices in the future. The mobile technology is even available to use right now. It’s exciting to have it ready to deploy, because we feel like we’re looking to the future as leaders and not followers in security.”

Edmiston’s biggest takeaway from the experience has been the benefit of finding invested, committed partners for a system overhaul.

“It’s just been a very good, very collaborative partnership,” he says. “ASSA ABLOY and CBORD are actively working with us to deliver the best possible experience for our students. Those relationships are absolutely critical.”

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