Access Control – Technology & Solutions

Access control makes schools safer and more efficient

Access control makes schools safer and more efficient

On a daily basis, schools attract thieves and unwanted intruders. One report suggests almost half of UK schools experienced technology theft in the last three years. At the same time, schools often have to keep track of many mechanical keys. Therefore, there is a significant demand for both better security and easier access management.

Thomas Schulz, EMEA Marketing & Communications Director for Digital and Access Solutions at Assa Abloy, argues that in an ideal world, top-of-the-range access control would be standard for all schools. But challenges persist. Doors in schools perform many different roles: some handle high traffic (the main entrance), while others see little daily use. Most school managers are non-technical; they may want to embrace new technology but do not know exactly where to turn. The wrong system could demand time-consuming administration. And, of course, budgeting looms over every decision.

Replace mechanical keys
With so many doors at a typical site, mechanical key management is laborious. A large high-school keeps track of keys for the entrance, classrooms, laboratories, AV rooms, drama studios, IT and server rooms, offices, the library, gym, canteen and kitchen, medical rooms, student locker bays, staff rooms, and maintenance rooms. The key-tracking workload is enormous. Thomas Schulz suggests it should be replaced with one intuitive software interface.

“Electronic access control dispels the shortcomings of lock-and-key security. With key-cards instead of mechanical keys, it’s easy to cancel a lost credential immediately and efficiently,” he stresses.

“Providing access to a new site user, or removing permissions from a departed staff member, is straightforward. If an incident occurs, administrators collect an audit trail for any door or user via the software. Advanced features like real-time control become possible, with the right system.”

Electronic access control enables security managers to programme fine-grained access permissions for every user. So, for example, the school director has blanket all-areas access from a single RFID card, while maintenance and security staff are excluded from management offices or sensitive data stores. Teachers and cleaners hold time-based permissions, so they only enter during their individual working hours. Thomas Schulz stresses that such precision is near-impossible with mechanical security.

Wireless access control for schools
Assa Abloy has designed its Smartair wireless access control system for schools. According to the company, with intuitive management software, credentials and battery-powered locks in many configurations, it is easy to install and convenient for non-technical staff to use. The system can handle a large number of users and logs every interaction, so incidents are investigated efficiently.

“Doors require minimal alterations when Smartair battery-powered devices are fitted, because there is no wiring around the door. A lost card is much cheaper and less hassle to replace than any physical key. There’s no need to change the locks, merely to delete a card’s authorisation from the system. When needs change, it’s easy to extend coverage to more locks or combine offline and real-time online functionality within the same installation,” states Thomas Schulz.

In Denmark, Vejle Friskole has saved a lot of time switching to Smartair key management. Mechanical keys have been replaced, and over 80 doors and cabinets are secured by Smartair devices.

“There was a lot of work in key administration. Smartair is incredibly easy to figure out, it takes one minute to code a student,” comments Henrik Kækel, the school’s Technical Service Officer.

Today, Vejle Friskole staff spend around 5 minutes a week managing their entire access system.

Easy-to-use software
Another example comes from France, where school managers at Lycée Kreisker have replaced a stressful solution which involved managing two separate key systems.

Smartair readers now control access through the main gate – every school’s critical first line of defence. Classrooms are locked with wireless escutcheons. Non-technical, in-house staff carry out basic administration via the easy-to-use Smartair software.

“System configuration is affordably outsourced. So, for example, doors can be pre-programmed to remain open between 9am and 5pm but require a credential for out-of-hours access,” says Thomas Schulz.


Note: This editorial article has primarily been produced for the security trade magazine Detektor in collaboration with

Product Suppliers
Back to top