Chicago university uses SALTO system for access control

Almost all buildings have some form of secure entry system that controls access - from simple keys, to swipe cards, to proximity cards, to PINs. For some, particularly those with a high volume of staff, the access control system is central to the security of the building. In many cases it can also be programmed to give different users entry to different areas at different times. The good news is that safety, security, and access control can all be achieved at once.

In the case of colleges and universities, security is at the top of the agenda. Many schools are now updating their systems and equipping themselves with the latest technology to provide the most secure learning and residential environments on their campuses.

Administrators at North Park University have spent the last five years introducing a series of campus-wide renovations that include the Viking Café, the campus green space, the bookstore, Hanson Hall, Wilson Hall, and the University Ministry offices in the basement of Sohlberg Hall.

Founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church, the University's urban location occupies a 30-plus acre site on Chicago's north side. It is home to more than 3,100 students from across the nation and around the world, with graduate and undergraduate programs that consist of 30 majors as well as 20 concentrations and pre-professional programs, including nursing, business and economics, education, communication, and psychology.

Burgh Hall is the latest student residence to undergo renovation. New bathrooms have been added as well as new plumbing, tiling, showers, paint, and fixtures. The entire building has been rewired with both electrical and low-voltage network wiring. Hallways have been given new ceilings, carpeting, and a fresh coat of paint. The entry lounge and kitchen facility have been expanded and refurnished with a widescreen TV, artwork, and signage. Various safety features have also been added, such as a glass-entry enclosure and door system and a fire protection sprinkler system. The front desk has been also redone to include a small office for the resident director.

For maximum security, a new electronic-locking system has also been installed throughout the building, with student dorm rooms receiving state-of-the-art card-operated proximity locks.

Designing in security

Terri Sopko, regional business manager of SALTO Systems, Inc., comments, "Safety and security are top priorities on campus at North Park. As the first Chicago university to employ off-duty city police officers as campus security officials, North Park has long demonstrated its commitment to a safe, secure campus environment for all members of the community."

As part of its renovation, the University wanted to address the problems it was having with key control issues in Burgh Hall. The old-fashioned mechanical keys and locks were becoming increasingly difficult to manage. If a key was lost, it meant a lot of time and expense in replacing the affected lock. The solution was to introduce a one-card system, allowing students to carry one multifunction card that would operate as their ID badge, access key, and cashless vending credential.

To accomplish this, SALTO worked in consultation with Steve Clark, director of computer and communication services at the University, to design an access control system tailored to the needs of Burgh Hall. The result incorporates XS4 electronic mortise locks with dead bolts, Hot-Spot wall readers, and rim-panic devices controlled via MIFARE enabled proximity cards.

Nineteen online Hot-Spot wall readers have now been installed utilizing SALTO Virtual Network (SVN) technology on all exterior and stairwell doors, and 135 XS4 offline XS4 locks have been fitted to each individual dorm room. Rim-panic devices and 50 additional XS4 offline locks have been fitted to other facility doors.

The XS4 system needs no hardwiring and provides a wire-free networked electronic locking solution with a great range of features. It is designed with state-of-the-art technology that uses distributed intelligence to pass information between microprocessors in the electronic handle set and the key card. It also allows the University to benefit from the many advantages of SVN and enables access profiles to be changed rapidly—adding value to the access management of Burgh Hall.

Clark says, "The most important perception of security measures is that they not be seen as 'add ons,' but as core essentials alongside the bricks and mortar of the building. What we like about the SALTO product is that it provides vastly better control of 'keys' and gives us the ability to get audit and battery status updates without having to visit the locks. The ability to change access rights on the fly without having to have students or staff come back to get their card recorded is also a big bonus."