Creating a safe learning environment with Access Control

Creating the right level of accessibility and an efficient flow through a building for staff and children is now a key priority for those working in the education sector; however, this must be balanced with the need to provide a safe learning environment. Architects and contractors must consider the need to install access control solutions to meet this requirement in today’s modern learning environment, argues David Hodgkiss, National Sales Manager of ASSA ABLOY Access Control, a UK division of ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions.

Security: a growing concern

Security within the education sector is a growing concern. A Freedom of Information request by the BBC revealed that of the 30,394 crimes reported in 2014, theft, burglary or robbery was the most common offence, with 13,003 incidents taking place1. Meanwhile, a survey led by the Association of Teachers & Lecturers discovered that over a quarter of education staff said they had faced aggression from a student’s parents or carers2.

Learners have the right to a safe environment in which to be educated, while staff should be able to work without fear of being threatened or harassed. While it can be difficult to acknowledge, the fact is that schools, colleges and universities must now take precautions to protect staff and children from these types of incidents.

Securing gates and access points around the site, plus ensuring any visitors register when entering, are just two basic but effective methods of creating a safe learning environment for staff and children. But what are the latest available solutions for those seeking a more sophisticated and intelligent approach to access control, which not only protects but also enhances the learning environment?

Enhancing existing security systems

In addition to assuring the safety and security of students and staff, the education sector is also looking for solutions that help cut energy costs, reduce maintenance and can be easily integrated with existing security measures.

Common problems with traditional security systems include lost or stolen keys. It can be inconvenient, time-consuming and expensive to change these locks, and the re-issuing of keys can be considerable. There is also the risk of stolen keys being copied, which compromises security even further.

It is also not uncommon for larger education sites, such as secondary schools and universities, to leave doors unlocked for long periods of time because of the inconvenience and hassle of opening and securing the room every time it’s entered. This, however, increases the possibility of opportunistic theft and malicious damage.

To meet this need, we have introduced Aperio®, an innovative, battery-operated wireless locking technology. This enables mechanical locks to be wirelessly linked to a new or existing access control system, without any need to modify the door. Meeting BS EN 179 and BS EN 1125 standards, Aperio® offers real time control, and doors can be scheduled to unlock in line with room booking systems or classes. Once a class has finished, doors automatically lock, leaving the room secured.

The system’s ability to update who is able to access a room online and in real-time is hugely advantageous to education sites, who might need to respond fast to ensure security measures are implemented quickly.

Its escape and return configuration is ideal for the education sector, allowing a door to remain unlocked for a certain amount of time after the door has been opened from the inside. Should an incident take place outside a classroom, staff and students can quickly return to the safety of this classroom.

Aperio® in action

It is estimated that a third of the UK’s university population becomes a victim of crime, predominantly either theft or burglary3. Owners of expensive laptops and bikes are popular targets, particularly during fresher’s week, with approximately 20 per cent of theft incidents occurring in the first six weeks of the academic year.

With this in mind, the University of East Anglia (UEA) required a trusted access control solution for its new student accommodation.

Established in 1963, the university is internationally renowned, having been rated as one of the best universities for student experience in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2016, based in a campus that provides top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to more than 15,000 students. The university sought a locking system for its newest on-site residence, Crome Court, comprising of 231 en-suite rooms rented to post-graduate students. The building was specifically designed by UEA to help reduce its environmental impact, and it was important to the university that the selected access control solution would contribute to this objective.

UEA required a system that offered assured electronic locks, built to serve the unique demands of student accommodation while ensuring the occupants safety and security. A stylish and affordable component design was important, which also fitted the environmentally advanced profile of the new accommodation.

Gallagher, ASSA ABLOY Access Control’s OEM’s partner, helped specify the best security solution for the university. Jason Boyce, Sales Manager at Gallagher, said: “We decided to offer Aperio® to UEA because of its outstanding reputation.” Crome Court’s doors are fitted with Aperio® E100 online escutcheons, with installation training provided on campus by ASSA ABLOY. Students open doors with smart cards instead of keys, with the battery-operated Aperio® locks emitting significantly fewer CO2 emissions than wired locks.

UEA staff can also control doors from a web-based interface or mobile phone. “Unlike other systems, Aperio® provides audit trails online, allowing for real-time monitoring,” adds Jason. “The fact that Gallagher and Aperio® devices can operate with the same data on the card has allowed for tighter integration, which saves the customer money.”

Flexibility is another key benefit to the system, with Aperio® offering the capability for additional doors to be integrated into UEA’s Gallagher system whenever required.

Christine Beveridge, Head of Campus Services at UEA, said: “ASSA ABLOY Access Control have extensive experience within the education sector. We are pleased to be piloting the scheme in our student accommodation and hope to roll out Aperio® across all residential estate.”

An intelligent access control solution is one of the most effective means of balancing this need for the right level of accessibility with creating a secure learning environment. UEA is just one of the sites that has benefited from a sophisticated access control solution, with many more looking set to follow its example. When designing modern buildings and facilities for the education sector, the need to implement a reliable access control solution looks set to become a top priority.

For further information on ASSA ABLOY Access Control, please visit

Like on Facebook and follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.

1 BBC, ‘School crime reports topped 30,000 in 2014’,

2 Association of Teachers & Lecturers, ‘Half of education staff have faced aggression from students in the last year’,

3 The Complete University Guide, ‘Stay safe at university’,


New Security Fasteners from Challenge Europe Ltd

Challenge Europe are delighted to have in their portfolio the Hafren range of security fasteners – a range of anti-vandal, anti-tamper screws and nuts proven in applications from architectural and street furniture, to marine and industrial equipment.

2 hole headed (otherwise known as pignose or snake eye) A2 stainless screws, bolts and self-tappers provide a versatile and clean look to installations while deterring vandals and keeping installations safe. Likewise, shear-nuts in zinc plated steel, galvanised, A2 and A4 stainless.

The Hafren range from Challenge Europe also covers 6-lobe driven threaded fasteners in A2 stainless steel with centre pin, in self-tapping, machine screw, self-drilling, barrel nut and floor anchor formats. Both countersunk and dome headed types are available.

Further information on Challenge Europe products can be found on their website –


SICK’s Visionary Camera Takes 3D Images in a Snapshot

SICK has launched the Visionary-T,  its first robust, industrial imaging camera to capture high-resolution 3D data with a single ‘snapshot’, whether the object is stationary or moving.

The SICK Visionary-T uses high-resolution Time-of–Flight (TOF) technology to achieve superior quality 3D imaging for vision applications.  Unlike 3D vision systems based on laser triangulation, the 3D image is captured with one shot of light, without the need to profile a moving object.

While single shot imaging systems have already been introduced for consumer applications, the IP67-rated SICK Visionary-T is designed for 24/7 industrial use in rugged conditions.  The camera therefore offers an affordable alternative to high-end 3D vision systems so that manufacturers and machine builders can integrate 3D imaging into intrusion detection systems for building security applications, for example in museums and art galleries.

Explains Neil Sandhu, SICK’s National Product Manager for Imaging, Measurement, Ranging and Systems:

“The Visionary T builds up a detailed and accurate real-time 3D image of fixed or moving objects with excellent results regardless of angle, surface finish, material or shape of object. The Snapshot technology means it is not necessary to design a system in which either the camera or the object must move across a laser line to create a triangulated image.

“In a single shot, the Visionary T combines different aspects of the light scattered by the object to build up a detailed picture of shape, distance, reflectivity and object depth.  Our trials have shown that the single shot method performs well, with less false imaging than can occur with some of the other commonly used methods, and lead to far more reliable results over a wide range of conditions.”

The SICK Visionary-T uses Time-of-Flight measurement of a light signal between the device and the target for each point of the image. The CCD/CMOS imager develops a pixel matrix, with each pixel containing depth and intensity information.  The camera is designed to capture more than 25,000 distance and intensity values to create real time 3D images at up to 30 frames per second.

Available in two different models, the SICK Visionary-T CX delivers raw data as depth, intensity and confidence values without any post-processing or reduction for in-house processing and program formulation, while the Visionary-T AG outputs filtered data in formats pre-selected by the integrator, OEM or other user. Likely to be used primarily for robot related tasks, typical data handling includes axis manipulation, parameter configuration, polar, scalable height integration time and different filter types.

Easy to mount, either on a vehicle or frame at the optimum angle for operation, the SICK Visionary-T is fitted with an industrial standard API connector for easy communication of the 3D data for evaluation on an external computer. Data can be read or recorded either directly via SICK’s SOPAS interface or via API for matlab, java or C++, and the SICK Visionary-T is compatible with SICK’s IDpro platform for integration with other SICK vision and sensor devices.

For more information about the SICK Visionary-T, please contact Andrea Hornby on 01727 831121 or email


Installer selects INTRATONE systems for entire client portfolio

A specialist security installer, Green Gate Access Systems, is rolling out Radio Frequency (RF) receiver equipment manufactured by INTRATONE, one of Europe’s largest access control businesses, across its entire portfolio of 400 clients with secured doors and gates.

As well as this, Green Gate Access Systems is also installing Intratone’s audio and video intercom equipment at many sites, and in particular its INTRABOX access control range.

The technology comes with a monthly subscription contract (without binding duration) or with a 15-year pre-paid GSM SIM card. All of this and is managed remotely by INTRATONE’s management platform.

Neil Sampson, Managing Director at Green Gate Access Systems, says that these features offer significant benefits: “With previous GSM-operated access control systems, the SIM card often proved to cause major problems,” he says. “However with a pre-paid system, the question of where the card comes from and any issues over payment are removed, and what was a major barrier is no longer a consideration.

“Likewise, we are able to operate, monitor and update every access control system from one platform, which saves time and money and removes the logistical challenge of visiting each site on a regular basis to carry out simple works,” he continues.

The systems are operated by proximity reading key fobs, which are also remotely managed. If a user loses their fob, the operator is able to immediately establish its identity and disable it for future use. A new fob is subsequently activated and then despatched. Every time a fob is used the data is sent back to the remote operating platform, giving operators an overview of that particular gate or secured door’s activity. Any unusual activity is therefore easily identified and monitored.

Green Gate Access Systems was introduced to INTRATONE by Cardin, which is one of its key distributors, as its Sales Director, Jason Gregg explains: “We have built an excellent relationship with the manufacturer which understands the needs of end-users and removes much of the complexities,” he says.

“INTRATONE’s back-end operating system is easy to use, and therefore its equipment is quickly becoming a product of choice for many end users.”

Nicolas Gaine, International Sales Manager at INTRATONE, says this is a good example of the partnership network that it has built with distributors: “Excellent relationships are a must in our industry and we have successfully maintained them to a level that our volume of work is increasing steadily via this route,” he says.

“With pre-paid GSM systems, product reliability and our operating platform we are reaching out to a broad range of suppliers with end users in a multitude of industries,” he concludes. 


Eurocell locks up deal with Security Hardware

Eurocell – the UK’s leading manufacturer, distributor and recycler of window, door, conservatory and roofline products – has announced the acquisition of PVC-U Window and Door hardware distributor, Security Hardware Ltd. With a turnover of approximately £4 million, Willenhall-based Security Hardware is a major supplier of domestic security hardware products and services the trade, merchanting and maintenance sectors through multi-channel operations – trade counter, direct sales and online.

Specialising in domestic PVC-U door locks; door security hardware; window locks and window hardware; the company also offers – beyond PVC-U – a range of products for timber and composite door security. With 3000+ lines from all major brands – such as Maco, Winkhaus, Millenco and Mila – Security Hardware has a solution for the clear majority of new or replacement installation and applications – including the obsolete. The company offers same day dispatch nationwide on orders placed before 15.00 hrs.

The acquisition enables Eurocell to grow its own hardware sales, the Security Hardware business and deliver a comprehensive hardware service to trade customers through its extensive branch network, now numbering almost 170 outlets. This combined distribution network will prove invaluable to both national and local contractors, in building and maintenance, seeking rapid supply of the vast majority of popular hardware security goods.

Commenting on the acquisition, Security Hardware Managing Director Nigel Ridgway said, “With 30 years’ experience in the door and window industry, and with an intense focus on quality and customer service; the Security Hardware fit with Eurocell feels like a great one and is bound to benefit both businesses. Using our expertise, we are continuing to expand our range in this category, while the group can look forward to more products being rolled out across its fast-growing branch network. It’s a win for everyone”.

Mark Kelly, Eurocell CEO, commented: said: “We’re delighted to welcome Security Hardware into the Eurocell group. It’s truly exciting to align with a business with such a track record of success, and one that complements the Eurocell business model so perfectly”.

For more information about Security Hardware, visit

For more information about Eurocell, call 0800 988 3049 or visit


Security, access control and smart locks – what’s safe, what’s the difference and where do we draw the line?

Here, Justin Freeman, technical manager of The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) – the leading trade association for the locksmithing industry – talks about the difference between security and access control, considering the problem of smart locks and the role they play for both.

Facilities managers have long understood the value and convenience of a good access control system by being able to control the access to certain parts of a building to certain individuals. Access control can start with a very simplistic form of digital code lock (mechanically operated push button locksets) operated by a simple code right the way through to complex internet controlled systems that enable managers to add or delete users from a central location.

Access control can directly link to fire safety and when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) came into force in 2006, it had a significant impact on facilities managers. The RRO dispensed with the need for a fire officer to certify and audit buildings, with responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order resting with ‘the responsible person’. Therefore, if, as a facilities manager, you are named as the person ‘who has control of the premises’, you must ensure compliance with the Fire Safety Order and operate good practice in all aspects of safety and security. A risk assessment must be carried out to make sure access control has the correct fail safe/fail secure operations in place. A professional like an approved MLA member could help to make sure everything is in order.

Facilities managers need to have a good understanding of health and safety requirements including things like escape routes and fire doors that access control will be integral to, so things are easy to get wrong and could well get a little more complicated.

The crossover between security and access control

Access control manufacturers, suppliers and facilities managers have long understood that these products are not primary security products and are there to restrict access (usually used internally within a building, with doors leading to the external of a building being secured by tested security mechanical locks). Access control therefore is not tested to any security or attack standards. People using a facility without the level of knowledge of facility management will assume any door with a lock on it is secure but this is not a problem when used and specified correctly.

The MLA recently exhibited at the Smart Buildings section of UK construction show at the NEC Birmingham and we spoke to lots of facilities managers regarding security, safety and convenience. All of them found the convenience of access control to be vital to the smooth running of their buildings and many were very interested in a smart lock that we had on display.

The benefits and pitfalls of a smart lock

‘We are seeing new technology introduced at a high rate within the UK in the form of smart locks that can be operated by code, tag, swipe card, biometrics and most importantly by smart phone. Facilities managers could see a direct benefit of having security locks on their buildings with the features and benefits of access control and even locks that can talk to things like CCTV, alarms and would ideally like security locks that could even be directly linked to access control and managed in the same way. The high interest in devices that operate heating and lighting via smartphones makes it obvious that people would like to operate their security locks if not remotely, then with their smartphone.

However, the UK has for a long time had excellent security standards for mechanical security including BS 3621, 8621, 10621, BS EN 1303, BS EN 12209 and PAS 24 for complete windows and doors. We can easily test the mechanical strength and capability of the actual lock but at the moment we cannot easily test the security of the ‘electronic key’ (i.e. fob, card, phone etc.) on electronic smart locks. It’s the ‘key’ that has actually become the problem area here as it could be anything from your finger, eye, face, voice, card, tag or phone (and I am sure there will be more) and the device could potentially store security information on a database online.

Industry is working on developing standards that smart locks could be tested to but this technology moves quickly so the truth is – we don’t know how secure these products are at the moment. The unfortunate advice the MLA has to currently give therefore is if you want to use a smart lock on your security door for convenience that’s fine but it must be supported by a tested mechanical security lock to secure the door properly. So smart locks are currently considered as access control and therefore secondary security rather than primary security.’

To find a locksmith in your area visit the user-friendly MLA website at To review a list of independently tested and approved security products visit the Sold Secure website at: Security guidelines for domestic properties can also be downloaded free of charge from