Under Lock and Key

Under Lock and Key

British International Schools implement access control for a new 350-lock, 275,000 square-foot campus

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ARE KNOWN FOR OFFERING HIGHLY PERSONALIZED INSTRUCTION IN A STATE-OF-THE-ART ENVIRONMENT WITH THE LATEST IN TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES. THEIR CAMPUSES CAN INCLUDE MORE THAN JUST CLASSROOMS—THERE ARE MIT-INSPIRED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS, THE JULLIARD SCHOOL-DESIGNED PERFORMING ARTS CENTERS AND NCAA-SIZED ATHLETIC FACILITIES. AFTER 16 YEARS IN ITS PREVIOUS LOCATION, THE BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF HOUSTON RECENTLY MOVED TO A NEWLY- CONSTRUCTED 275,000-SQUARE-FOOT FACILITY ON A CAMPUS THAT SPANS 34 ACRES. THE SCHOOL SERVES MORE THAN 2,000 STUDENTS AGES 3-18.

British International School campuses belong to a global family of 43 private schools run by Nord Anglia Education—a leading premium school organization. With more than 37,000 students from preschool through secondary education, Nord Anglia Education offers no limit to what students can achieve with an approach that supports every child to succeed academically, socially and personally.

The British International School is committed to delivering an unrivaled educational experience—an assurance that also emphasizes providing maximum security and safety for its students, employees and visitors. When Electronic Security Solutions, Inc., of Chicago was approached to provide access control for several British International School campuses including the newly-built replacement campus for The British International School of Houston, ESS President and Owner Dale Padjen recommended SALTO Systems electronic locks.

A certified business partner of SALTO Systems, ESS provides the very latest in electronic locking technology. From wire-free systems to wireless real-time solutions, Padjen says ESS recommends SALTO because doors in any type of facility can be secured without complex and expensive wiring.

The British International School of Houston project presented ESS with an opportunity to design a completely wireless locking solution for a new, state-of-the-art, purpose built, 33-acre campus featuring an impressive array of facilities and exciting learning areas.

“SALTO Systems offered the perfect portfolio of electronic locks and products required to address the varying needs presented by a project like The British International School of Houston,” said Padjen. “While SALTO is perfect for an upgrade for those transitioning from mechanical to electronic locks in an existing building, it’s an exciting opportunity to use SALTO technology to build an entire system from the ground up.”

ESS chose SALTO’s wireless real-time access control system in order to secure The British International School of Houston. The system can be used as an independent system or as a complement to SALTO Virtual Network (SVN) and hard-wired IP solutions.

“SALTO’s wireless electronic locking solution is an incredibly efficient system that creates a completely wireless user experience that is reliable and easily managed,” said Padjen. “It’s perfect for the education environment with its variety of employees, students and visitors who need the ability to easily come and go at different times.”

SALTO Wireless connects battery-powered electronic escutcheons and cylinders by means of low power radio transceivers (2.4 GHz). These interact with SALTO XS4 Gateways, which are connected by Ethernet/WiFi to the central management computer. If needed, SALTO Nodes can also be used. Nodes serve as a bridge between the gateway and the escutcheons, where the distance to the escutcheon— or where the number of escutcheons that must be linked to the gateway— exceeds what is possible with a single gateway.

With a single click of a mouse, changes can be made to the SALTO Wireless network in real time using SALTO’s ProAccess SPACE access control management software. End users can download audit trail information for real-time control, delete users remotely and securely, collect battery status for maintenance and more—all from a single PC, and in real time.

The British International School of Houston Principal Andrew Derry said the transition from the mechanical lock and key system that they had used for 16 years in the former building to the new electronicallycontrolled campus was exceptionally smooth. The newly-constructed 275,000-square-foot facility includes more than 350 electronic locks.

“I would highly recommend switching from mechanical to electronic locks,” said Derry. “SALTO’s software and electronic locks have improved safety, helped facilitate learning, streamlined operations, and is so easy to manage.”

Prior to using the new SALTO wireless system, Derry said parents and volunteers had to sign in at the front office any time they visited the campus—a lengthy process that took administrators and educators away from important tasks.

With SALTO’s access control system in place, however, the school runs background checks on parents and regular visitors, and, if they are cleared, they are issued an access credential which gives them the freedom to enter the campus without having to request assistance.

Derry said the ProAccess SPACE lockdown feature is a key addition to the campus’ crisis management plan.

“In just a couple of seconds we can lock down the whole school building, which, as educators, gives us security and peace of mind,” said Derry.

Padjen added that many schools and universities specifically convert to electronic access control due to the ability to quickly lock down entrances, exits and classrooms.

“In a crisis situation, the SALTO wireless system offers an emergency lockdown, emergency close, and emergency open,” said Padjen. “The only people that can open those doors are those that have the privileges to override the system—administrators, security officers or first responders.”

“In education, you have a variety of end users. You have those that manage the system, such as administrators or security officers, who may need more training. You also have those that need very little training like teachers and visitors,” said Padjen. “What makes SALTO’s system preferable is that it is very easy to learn and use, no matter if you are a frequent or an infrequent user.”

At The British International School of Houston, Derry says employees use a variety of access credentials including photo ID cards, key fobs and RFID wristbands which are favored by gym teachers and maintenance workers as they are safer than an ID card on a lanyard around the neck.

In addition to The British International School of Houston, ESS will provide SALTO Systems electronic access control products for several new construction projects for Nord Anglia, including The British International School of Chicago-South Loop and additional campuses in Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C.

“ESS has had great success in optimizing locking solutions for a variety of end users,” said Padjen. “It’s always rewarding to be able to provide a high quality, affordable and easy-to-use electronic lock solutions for important customers like The British International Schools and the children they serve.”

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of CSLS.