Getting the most out of school funding and the Florida sun to increase safety

Feb. 29, 2024
The county set out on a mission to increase security at its 14 schools district-wide by installing SARGENT IN120 Intelligent Wi-Fi locks on classroom doors.

When it comes to connecting to the community and protecting its schools, Sumter County in central Florida has implemented some pretty impressive, innovative, and thoughtful solutions.

The county, located west of the Greater Orlando area, recently set out on a mission to increase security at its 14 schools district-wide by installing SARGENT IN120 Intelligent Wi-Fi locks on classroom doors and other interior openings. 

All Sumter County schools feature multiple classroom buildings. So, in addition to deploying more digital access technology indoors, the district took the extra safety measure of installing a special security fence around each campus’s group of buildings, complete with a single point-of-entry gate controlled by an IN120.

Custom made from resilient metal stock, this gate access solution provides further assurance that only students and staff are allowed to enter. For contractors, family members, and other visitors, there’s a separate controlled entrance at the main administration building of each school where they can be vetted for clearance to specific areas.

A Simpler, Cost-Effective Path to Secure Openings

IN120s exchange permission data and grant access strictly by Wi-Fi and run on six AA alkaline batteries, virtually eliminating the need for hard wiring. This makes the solution very straightforward to install, power, and connect. IN120s are also easy to operate. Faculty and other authorized personnel simply present their issued credentials to a door’s IN120 card reader to release the lock.

For the fence point-of-entry, a scheduled staff member stationed at the opening activates the IN120 the same way, unlocking the gate to let students in as they arrive for the day. Once they’ve entered and are on their way to their assigned classroom buildings, the gate is closed and locked until the next time a student or staff member needs access. Per life safety/fire codes, of course, free egress is always possible by pushing on the exit device (panic bar) on the inside of the gate door.

The rationale for choosing SARGENT IN120 Intelligent Wi-Fi locks for the gate doors was to eliminate the expense of trenching and cabling between the fence entry point and a nearby building, which would have been necessary for the power and communication requirements of a traditional hard-wired system. That option was out of budget. IN120s, on the other hand, offered a significant cost-savings alternative, which allowed for a better use of available funds.

The Power of Wi-Fi

Fortunately, high speed internet and Wi-Fi is plentiful at all the district’s school buildings both indoors and out – the result of Sumter County’s initiative to boost and extend service to campus parking lots after recognizing that many people in the somewhat rural area didn’t have access to such an important necessity. This allows students to come to the parking area and easily connect to online resources that are helpful for completing schoolwork – an essential amenity especially during off-hours and over weekends.

Strong Wi-Fi reach, of course, also fills the connectivity requirements of the IN120 locks, including those at exterior gate locations. Batteries outdoors, however, are another matter. The extreme heat and wintertime cold that Sumter County experiences can shorten battery life and high humidity tends to cause corrosion. That meant finding an alternative standalone power source for each of the single-point entries.

Here Comes the Sun

Thankfully, the ASSA ABLOY team had a bright idea. They proposed bypassing the batteries altogether and installing the external power 91-prefix version of the IN120 driven by a Securitron BPSS-20 solar power supply.

With a 12V, 20W panel and 18Ah battery mounted nearby, they were able to turn the intelligent Wi-Fi gate lock into a complete IN120 solar energy solution for Sumter County, proof again that their schools provide valuable learning experiences and great opportunities for creative problem solving.