Paul Bodell, VIZpin CEO

I recently had an interesting discussion with a school administrator at an expensive, private K-12 school in Florida. Like most schools, they needed access control, but were challenged by the balancing act of creating a welcoming, open environment for students, parents, and visitors, while keeping out those with potentially ill-intentions. Striking the right balance was made especially difficult because some very specific needs had to be accommodated.

  • The system must keep each classroom door locked until a teacher came in, and then remain open until the teacher locked it.
  • Administrators must be able to easily grant/revoke access to teachers based on schedules, eliminating a lock-and-key solution, and track when teachers unlock doors.
  • Teachers must be able to lock down rooms whenever they want, provided administrators can unlock them at any time.
  • The system must be affordable due to the school’s limited budget.

The biggest issue administrators faced when exploring options was that many systems being proposed were card/reader based with network connections. Not only are they expensive, as they require additional cabling and ISP costs, but they also rely on the network being up to perform an emergency lock down, which is unacceptable.

A traditional lock and key solution was also easily eliminated because it doesn’t provide the option to easily grant/revoke access and limit access based on schedules and adds the complexity of lost keys and door rekeying. With keypad solutions, codes can be shared and tracking is limited.

After learning more about VIZpin, it was clear that our Smartphone Access Control solution’s features were perfect for the school’s application:

  • The FIRST IN feature allows a controller to be simply mounted on the inside of each classroom door. Each classroom remains locked until someone opens the door with a valid VIZpin Smartphone key or FOB, and each door can be set to automatically lock at the end of the day.
  • Teachers can confirm that their classrooms are unlocked when the light on the controller’s LED button is green. If they need to leave and lock a door, they just press the LED button and the door is locked until they return. When they unlock it again, the door remains unlocked until the end of the day or until they press the LED button again.
  • Teachers can easily lock a door in an emergency – whether the network is working or not – by simply pressing the LED button until the light turns red.
  • No network is required, and the cloud portal enables administrators to log in from any browser on their PCs, iPads or other devices.
  • Reducing the need to re-key locks and reissue lost or stolen keys to employees will provide long-term cost savings.

In addition, the school valued that the electronic access control system keeps detailed logs of when areas of a building are accessed and by whom, which can be used to control the site’s operations. For example, lights can be turned on and off and HVAC systems can be more efficiently controlled based on when and where buildings are being utilized throughout the day.

Of course, the safety of its staff, students and visitors is the number one concern for school administrators, and the administrators at this private Florida school placed a high value on the superior safety benefits an electronic access control system offers versus traditional key and lock systems. The system can be integrated with existing security measures, including intrusion alarms and cameras, to optimize the performance of all security technology.