Colleges and universities are responsible for protecting students and staff, educational facilities, records, technology and equipment in clean, safe environments. Campus security technology includes everything from traditional mechanical keys and small format interchangeable cores (SFICs) to electronic and mobile-activated access systems. 

Slippery Rock University (SRU), located in Pennsylvania, strives to make its security practices as effective and efficient as possible. Although many parts of campus use card access, Dan Brown, director of housing, admits that some parts of campus, like residence halls, still use traditional keys. Transitioning from SFICs to electronic access control has not been a high priority due to scale and budget, although housing leaders acknowledge the inefficiencies of their key-based system. 

“We typically don’t make changes to our access systems as long as they’re working,” Brown said. “When we need to upgrade, we prioritize change outs to maintain good budget stewardship.”

In 2020, the Slippery Rock IT and housing department’s leadership team moved some of its offline locks into an online system in student residences. Their goal was to improve security and enable student credentials to be reprogrammed from a central location rather than at each door site to improve efficiency. This beta test would serve as a model on which to develop larger scale plans to reduce reliance on keys in student housing.

dormakaba worked with SRU officials to install its new BEST Switch Tech platform, a digital replacement for SFICs. SRU installed Switch Cores and integrated them into the school’s existing Lenel system to retrofit doors in student residences. The results, according to SRU, have been very positive. 

The new system makes it easier to control who gains entry and provides greater access visibility and tracking control. While challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic have disrupted the overall student experience on campus, the Switch Tech platform is enabling the school to upgrade access control in strategic areas and prioritize future change outs to digital technology.

“We have so many doors,” Brown said. “We don’t want to start changing them if we don’t have to. Switch Core fits into existing cores, significantly reducing the costs of adding digital access, and it’s easy to install and use. It’s also compatible with our existing Lenel system for a complete plug and play install, and our own locksmiths can take care of it.”

“The nicest feature is that I don’t have to go to the lock to reload it,” said Maria Malacaman, information technology generalist II on SRU’s housing staff. “I can see right away if a student or card holder is having issues with access. I can troubleshoot from my office rather than going to the door site and take care of the student quickly.”

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