Integration extends real-time lockdown capability and event schedules to secondary perimeter doors
Rock Hill School District, located in York County, S.C., welcomes nearly 18,000 students to its campuses each fall. It’s the largest district in the county and 11th largest in the state, sprawling more than 3.1 million square feet. It’s no surprise that the school district has gone the extra mile to secure its students, faculty and facilities.
Fortunately, Rock Hill schools haven’t been victims of any serious or violent incidents. But they are readily prepared for emergency situations. The district has had to respond to police-related incidents in the past that have required lockdown out of caution.
“We have 31 locations,” says Tim Boan, access control technician for Rock Hill Schools. “When an incident like a robbery or police chase happens, we need to lock down two or three schools and ensure students are inside. Our school has gone the extra mile to make sure we have the proper training.”
In the event of a lockdown, police officers are the only people that can get someone into the building. Office staff, custodial and other employees must follow the school’s procedures for safety when outside of the building during a lockdown. This requires an advanced level of training and accountability. It also requires security solutions that make lockdown and access control possible.
“Rock Hill is a leader in the education market in terms of deploying security technology,” says Matt Alford, director of business development at LenelS2, the physical access control software provider for Rock Hill schools. “They have made technology an integral part of their planning, preparation and training strategy.”
The classroom and office door locks are predominately a combination of Schlage LE and NDE wireless electronic locks as well as some Schlage AD-400 wireless electronic locks. These integrate with the LenelS2™ NetBox™ access control and event monitoring software for an advanced security solution, which allows for lockdown across each school—and the entire district. It also allows staff like Boan the option to set up event schedules to reduce manual efforts.
While nearly all of the schools in the district are connected to the NetBox access control solution, there was still a missing piece: the secondary perimeter openings. Staff still needed to manually lock, or undog, these doors.
Ideally, every opening in K-12 facilities would be connected to access control software. However, that historically was not practical—or affordable for most schools—so they had to come up with other means to secure these openings.
“Schools want the safest, most secure solutions to protect students and staff,” says Yong Lacy, Allegion US category leader, openings. “However, these schools are also up against tight budgets, so connecting all perimeter openings often was not an option. Instead, schools may have kept secondary openings locked throughout the day, but this required manual touring to verify the status of each opening.”
According to findings from the research group SMARI, it’s estimated that only half of secondary doors in schools with a networked access control system are connected, because the majority of available security funds are focused on the main entrances. Additionally, more than half of schools report that their perimeter doors are left unlocked or propped open, which results in vulnerabilities that compromise a building’s security solution—even one as advanced as Rock Hill.
To enhance perimeter security, Rock Hill decided to implement the Von Duprin Remote Undogging option. When paired with a leading software provider like LenelS2, Allegion’s solution is designed to extend access control to perimeter openings, making it ideal for K-12 facilities.
The Von Duprin RU retrofit kit for exit devices is a cost-effective solution for secondary openings that enables remote locking for centralized lock down, “dog on next exit” and door status monitoring with integrated door position switch (DPS) signaling capabilities. It connects wirelessly via Bluetooth Low Energy to Allegion’s ENGAGE Gateway, providing real-time, bi-directional communication to the NetBox system. RU is a modular battery powered kit that can be added on to existing Von Duprin 98/99 and 33A/35A Series devices.
Schools looking to improve key control can benefit from the “dog on next exit” feature. This enables staff to visit the door and actuate the push pad from the interior to enable push-pull operation at a scheduled time without the need for a key or credential. Likewise, to secure the door a schedule can be set for remote undogging for lock up.
The Von Duprin Remote Monitoring (RM) option is also available. It’s a sensor-only configuration for exit-only or fire-rated doors that require monitoring. It provides visibility to door status with the same RX, LX and DPS signals as the RU, without the centralized lockdown component.
“Our software leverages the Von Duprin remote monitoring and undogging options to monitor the status and undog the door in real-time,” says Alford. “The integration extends facility lockdowns and event schedules to otherwise manually controlled exits.”
The NetBox system is a full-featured, web-based access control and event monitoring system. Features such as person record and cardholder management, threat level escalation and reporting are accessible from any web browser. The NetBox system integrates with a wide range of systems, including video management, intrusion alarms, elevators, locks and more.
Since the school already had Von Duprin exit devices on the doors and the NetBox software in place, the integration process was simple.
“The integration went excellent,” says Boan. “LenelS2 was ready, and as soon as we said we were ready, they set up the schedule and had everything in place. It’s worked just like they said it was going to work.”
The school currently has the new solution installed on five openings in one of its locations. Boan reports that the school district was excited about ability to integrate the product into the existing access control system and the fact that it could retrofit to work with their current hardware.
“With this, we can use our existing exit devices, which will save costs compared to replacing our devices,” says Kevin Wren, director of risk, security and emergency management for Rock Hill School District.
Overall, the school is pleased with the perimeter security solution and plans to extend the solution to its other campuses. According Wren, “The Von Duprin RU allows our schools to lockdown the entire perimeter in seconds versus minutes. It happens with the push of a button instead of someone running from door to door to manually undog the opening. The more we are able to eliminate human error, the better we will be.”
Boan was especially satisfied when he learned the full range of capabilities, beyond locking the device remotely. The scheduling feature allows him to set up a schedule, walk away from the system and have it secure a facility the way he intended.
“We rent our facilities quite a bit,” Boan says. “We’ll have 1,000 to 2,000 people inside our buildings to see a recital, and we have lots of doors. Instead of dogging doors, we can control them. And if there is an emergency, it’s amazing that we can control it the way we do through our access control system so that we don’t leave a door accidently unlocked.”
Wren adds, “We’ve now eliminated the risk of a door being left unlocked overnight. Traditionally, following an event, someone had to manually secure all of the openings. If they forgot to lock a door, it would be left unsecured all night long. Now we can easily monitor all of the openings to ensure they are locked.”
LenelS2 is also excited about the new capabilities the integration with the Von Duprin RU solution offers users in the K-12 market.
“This integration expands lockdown capabilities using existing exit devices,” says Alford. “It helps better secure school environments at a lower cost.”