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Northwestern University deploys Wi-Fi locks

Campus sees advanced degree of access control with ASSA ABLOY's Sargent brand

Andrew Hudson   ||   Jul 03, 2017  ||   , ,

An interconnected web of wireless access control locks weaves a thorough system of doorway security throughout Northwestern University. The common thread connecting these doorways is Wi-Fi locks from ASSA ABLOY Group brand Sargent.

Sargent IN120 locks form the base of the access control system along with Sargent 80 Series exit devices, 8200 Series mortise locks and a mix of access control components, hardware and a key system from HID Global, ASSA ABLOY Architectural Door Accessories and Group brand Medeco.

Installing an online access control system can be costly, requiring either labor-intensive hardwiring of doorways or a separate proprietary wireless network. But the IN120 Wi-Fi locks provided a cost savings for the university by leveraging the school’s existing IT infrastructure to deliver advanced access control to more locations.

Since the lock utilizes IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi infrastructure, there is no need for a proprietary wireless network or equipment that is specific to a lock manufacturer. Doors can easily be connected to a centralized access control system without the need for costly wiring. This extends the range of access control systems to include doorways in remote or hard-to-wire locations.

“Wireless locks bring a significant reduction in infrastructure costs,” says Anthony Hicks, head locksmith for the Evanston and Chicago campuses. “With thousands of doors throughout the university, hardwiring would have been a huge cost. Plus we plan to install electronic access control on doorways that have traditionally been equipped with mechanical locks. The Sargent Wi-Fi locks give us security without the cost of hardwiring.”

From the perspective of residential services, the move to electromechanical locks and a campus-wide one card system created major improvements in efficiency.

“We used a security consulting firm to evaluate the building management systems we use and our network infrastructure and then determine which locking system provided the best fit,” says Roger Becks, director of administrative services for Northwestern University. “The most important factor was integration to a one card system. We didn’t want students to have separate cards for everything. We needed software that would provide a seamless experience. The ASSA ABLOY lock and its accompanying PERSONA Campus software made that a pretty easy decision for us.”

The locks feature multiclass SE technology from HID Global and seamlessly integrate with the university’s access control software. PERSONA Campus software enables the school to bridge multiple systems, including the RMS residential software and ID Works photo ID software. This allowed the school to use the same credentialing system for academic buildings and residence halls. Any time a student misplaces a credential, the card office can quickly and easily issue a new credential and remove the missing one from the system.

“That one ID makes it easy for everyone,” Becks says. “We have the ability to shut off access once we know a card is missing. Within 10 minutes, a new card can be activated and the old card is shut off from the system.”

“Our philosophy at Northwestern is to gain control of security,” explains Northwestern’s Hicks. “If you can’t control the credentials, then you have no true security.” This strict adherence to credential control is enhanced by the HID multiclass SE technology used for the campus card system and a Medeco high security key system for doors that require mechanical keys.

Sargent mechanical locks are also used throughout the campus, including in the newly constructed school of music and the newly opened Kellogg School of Management.

“We are a longstanding Sargent customer and believe in the quality and integrity of the ASSA ABLOY family of products,” Hicks says. “Thanks to our wireless access control system, we have a higher level of security on campus.”

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