Are Wi-Fi Locks A Better Physical Security Solution For Your Campus?

May 19, 2017 Bob Nilsson


Insuring personal safety and physical security on educational campuses and throughout school buildings is one of a school’s highest priorities. Maintaining the safe campus environment that is free of threats of physical harm and the risk of property theft is an important factor when students select their colleges. To help families make informed decisions about campus safety, a federal law known as the Jeanne Clery Act requires brick-and-mortar schools receiving federal student aid to share crime statistics on and around their campuses.

Three important factors for keeping campuses safe are: reliable network connectivity to provide full situational awareness, physical locks to prevent harm to personnel and property, and well-placed surveillance cameras. The network plays a vital role in providing situational awareness by connecting surveillance cameras, microphones, motion sensors, and intercoms with security managers. As network-based locks come on stream, the reliability of the network infrastructure becomes even more critical.

The modern pin-tumbler lock was invented back in 1848 by Linus Yale, Sr. They’ve been updated with tubular and disk tumblers, but the basic mechanical components have remained remarkably consistent. These traditional locks have drawbacks in terms of getting jammed, being hard to change, and keys that are hard to track, easily-duplicated and often-misplaced.

Benefits Of Electronic Locks

Advances in smart technologies and the Internet of Things are now being applied to physical security, providing the benefits of usage tracking, easily-configured authorization rules, and lower cost. Electronic locks offer a much finer level of control than mechanical lock and key combinations. It is simple and secure to add and remove individuals from the authorized entry list. Gone are the worries of someone losing or duplicating a physical key. The electronic locks are not pickable, nor are they as prone to jamming as traditional keylocks. A detailed audit trail of all electronic lock activity is always available. These factors translate to not just improved safety and efficiency, but to reduced costs.

Issues To Be Aware Of

With all of these benefits, electronic and Wi-Fi based locks still require careful planning. The access control software may require integration to other software that is in use at the site. The network must be fully capable of providing the coverage and reliability required. Battery life must be taken into account and contingencies must be in place for power outages. All these factors should be analyzed to determine whether electronic and Wi-Fi locks are appropriate for the site.

Want more information on the concepts and benefits of Wi-Fi and network-based locks for campuses and buildings? Watch our on-demand webinar, Implementing Network-based Physical Security.

About the Author

Bob Nilsson

As the Director of Vertical Solutions Marketing at Extreme Networks, Bob Nilsson leads the Extreme Networks strategy and programs for vertical markets including Healthcare, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Federal/State/Local Government, Retail, Hospitality, and Transportation and Logistics. He has over 30 years of experience in marketing IT systems to Global 1000 companies worldwide. Before joining Extreme Networks Bob was VP Marketing at Clear Methods. Prior to that Bob held senior marketing positions at Digital Equipment and HP. Bob holds an SB degree in EE from MIT and MBA from Columbia Business School.

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