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Morse Watchmans: Texas State University boosts security to keep pace with rapid growth and expansion
Morse Watchmans: Texas State University boosts security to keep pace with rapid growth and expansion

In 1899, the Texas Legislature authorised the formation of the Southwest Texas State Normal School, which opened in San Marcos four years later. At the time, the school’s mission was to prepare Texas public school teachers, but over the years, it has undergone several expansions and name changes to reflect its evolution into the major multi-purpose university Texas State has become. From its humble beginnings located in a single building, Texas State’s original San Marcos campus has grown to cover a 485-acre campus that is home to 267 buildings, as well as an additional 5,038 acres of recreational, instructional, farm and ranch land. The university added a second campus in Round Rock, which has grown from 15 temporary buildings to a 101-acre campus with state-of-the-art facilities. Electronic key control systems Texas State’s student population has kept pace with its physical expansion, growing from 303 in 1903 to more than 35,546 in 2013 – marking the 16th consecutive year of enrolment growth for the university. Texas State reviewed its security policies and chose the need to execute electronic key Anticipating major physical and population growth to continue into the future, Texas State reviewed its security policies and determined the necessity of implementing electronic key control systems in sensitive areas. Based on its size, the understanding was that as many as 85 of these systems could potentially be needed as part of this initiative. Aggressive construction campaign Texas State was faced with a particularly challenging growth-related issue in September 2013, as its freshman enrolment surged to more than 5,000. Like many universities, Texas State requires its freshmen to live on campus, which it sees as a tool for retention. That policy seems to be working, with approximately 80 percent of freshmen living on campus technically returning for the following semester. To accommodate the growing ranks of on-campus residents, the university has pursued an aggressive construction campaign, building a new residence hall complex every two years to house approximately 600 additional students with plans to break ground this fall on a third new housing complex. In all, Texas State spent more than $190 million on new or renovated buildings, with more construction planned into the foreseeable future. Update key management policies Maintenance staff members would often reach for the key to a particular building they needed to access With a large number of individuals requiring access to so many facilities, the university recognised that key management had the potential to become a high-risk issue and determined to become proactive in reducing that risk. Maintenance staff members would often reach for the key to a particular building they needed to access, only to find it was already checked out. They would then be forced to go through the time-consuming – and frustrating – process of determining who had the key last and tracking that person down to retrieve it. The decision was made to update key management policies and practices to make them more efficient and effective. “We’ve been especially happy with the KeyWatcher’s access and reporting capabilities, and the system’s reporting tools make reviewing events and issues incredibly simple,” Kyle Estes Associate Director of Housing for Facilities Services Texas State. Options for key management systems To combat these problems and increase the security and effectiveness of its key management, Texas State charged its University Police Department and other stakeholders with undertaking an extensive review of the available options for key management systems on the market. This exhaustive process involved gathering research from printed materials and online research, having discussions with current customers of the various vendors, and listening to on-site presentations from the companies under consideration. At the conclusion of its review of key control cabinets and systems, Texas State chose KeyWatcher Touch from Morse Watchmans. This exhaustive process involved gathering research from printed materials and online research The main factors that led Texas State to choose KeyWatcher Touch systems were its robust feature set and competitive pricing. The school was also impressed by Morse Watchmans’ receptiveness to its specific needs – a six-digit user ID, for example – and ability to implement changes quickly. Access to support was also a main consideration, so Texas State appreciated that the system was produced domestically by a company with a 130-year history. Enterprise management capability Of the KeyWatcher systems to be implemented, the largest number were to be deployed for Texas State’s Department of Housing and Residential Life, which provides housing and services to approximately 7,000 residents in 25 facilities. The department also operates a facilities service group consisting of 110 full-time employees and a staff of 170 building paraprofessionals. The department also operates a facilities service group consisting of 110 full-time employees Because of the personnel changes the department experiences on an annual basis, the system’s enterprise management capability has been a valuable feature, as have its robust reporting capabilities, says Kyle Estes, Texas State’s Associate Director of Housing Facilities Services. Having keys available in each residence hall for use by maintenance staff has made the department more efficient and reduced their liability; staff no longer need to carry multiple master keys across campus for different buildings. Centralised management features “Because the system automatically generates a log of who has each key, we’ve been able to establish much better employee accountability for key usage,” Estes says. “The ability to set a maximum duration that each key can be checked out and to receive alarms when that limit is exceeded has eliminated the problem of having keys unnecessarily checked out and as a result inaccessible when someone needs them.” Ease of use and centralised control parts fed by the system’s web capabilities All KeyWatcher Touch systems deployed at Texas State are connected to the university’s network and interface with its card access and email systems. The ease of use and centralised management features provided by the system’s network capabilities have streamlined the once cumbersome process of generating reports and reviewing incidents. One particular feature, the ability to access the system from anywhere, has made the system even more effective, Estes says. Earliest adopters of KeyWatcher Touch As one of the earliest adopters of KeyWatcher Touch, the Housing and Facilities Department served as a test case of sorts for the system. Based on the success the department has had, combined with its continued rapid growth and expansion, Texas State University’s 85-system implementation is ongoing. As more systems are added, expansion will be a consideration moving forward, but Estes doesn’t anticipate that being a problem. “We’ve found that expanding these systems is fairly easy and doesn’t involve time-consuming processes that could delay implementation of key management for particularly sensitive areas,” Estes says. “Overall, the system has been very reliable, and the support staff has been very responsive and regularly available to help resolve the very few minor issues we’ve encountered in a timely manner."

Koning Willem College implements ASSA ABLOY wireless Aperio access control
Koning Willem College implements ASSA ABLOY wireless Aperio access control

Koning Willem I College in north-east Brabant, The Netherlands offers various educational and integration programmes. In total, around 18,000 students take 250 courses at its 16 locations. Modern educational institution A new location on Onderwijsboulevard in 's-Hertogenbosch was designed to be a model modern educational institution, including its access control.   The imposing new building has modern rooms that provide opportunities for consultation, collaboration in small and large groups, presentations, and individual work. Access to these spaces required a flexible and modern locking solution ideally with as few keys as possible. Employees and students must feel welcome and safe. Need for an easily integrated system Dependable security was needed for all kinds of valuable learning materials and sensitive information Dependable security was needed for all kinds of valuable learning materials and sensitive information.  “Easy integration with the existing access control system without additional software,” was the goal, according to Alex te Pas, functional manager of facilities management information systems.  Keyless access for improved security and management  “Within our organisation, we want to phase out the use of keys,” he says. “Because when employees left, we noticed that people often forgot to turn in keys or tokens. In the event of an audit, we then have a problem."  Wireless Aperio locks The college chose Aperio locks which are easy to integrate wirelessly with their existing Nedap AEOS access control system. No additional software is needed: wireless Aperio locks communicate via Aperio Hubs which handle secure, real-time communication between locks and the AEOS system. This way, college security staff have full control over access and can quickly revoke anyone’s access rights.  Saves time and costs The ongoing cost of using these battery-powered locks is also much lower than for equivalent wired electronic locks Because Aperio devices run on batteries, rather than mains power, there was no need to make any major adjustments to the doors. This saves both time and cost during installation. The ongoing cost of using these battery-powered locks is also much lower than for equivalent wired electronic locks, which require an ‘always on’ connection to the power grid to maintain secure status.  Aperio E100 Escutcheon The college chose the Aperio E100 Escutcheon to secure doors throughout the building. The E100 offers a convenient combination of free exit from the inside with automatic locking on closure from the outside. It comes in a variety of specifications to fit different door security levels or everyday usage, including a version with PINpad which adds another level of control. 2-factor authentication With the additional PIN code, the risk of unauthorised access via a found or stolen pass is minimised.  “We wanted to provide our technical rooms with 2-factor authentication. So here we chose Aperio locks with PIN code capability,” adds te Pas.   Extending an AEOS system with Aperio wireless devices  Nedap’s versatile AEOS access control system integrates seamlessly with a broad range of Aperio Nedap’s versatile AEOS access control system integrates seamlessly with a broad range of Aperio devices. End-users can get even more out of an existing Nedap AEOS system by integrating Aperio cylinders, escutcheons, handles, and more, online and/or offline, giving security managers control over traffic to and through more areas at their premises.  Multiple device support Nedap integration supports multiple devices from the Aperio range, including the award-winning wireless handle (H100), escutcheon (E100), cylinder (C100), and security lock (L100). Aperio devices are available for almost any interior or exterior door, including wooden and glass doors, as well as fire doors. Online integration with AEOS can use different interfaces (RS485 / IP), connecting lock and system via hubs that control up to 16 locks. AEOS software A full set of powerful functions and events is made available for any Aperio device within the AEOS interface, including door or battery status and tamper detection. AEOS software manages everything, eliminating unproductive tasks including any need to duplicate data entry saving time, and extending control without hassle for building users or administrators. 

HID Mobile Access elevates safety and convenience in George Mason University
HID Mobile Access elevates safety and convenience in George Mason University

Named one of Money magazine’s Best Colleges in America 2023, Fairfax-based Geoge Mason University (Mason) is the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its 10,000 faculty and staff provide classes and support services across three regional campuses, an international branch campus in Songdo, South Korea, and five instructional sites. With more than 40,000 students hailing from all 50 states and 130 countries and a six-year graduation rate that is well above the national average, Mason continues a rapid upward enrollment trajectory that saw headcount and credit hours increase by nearly 2 percent in Spring 2022 and Fall 2023 applications rise by 11 percent.  R1 research university In addition to a heavy emphasis on diversity – U.S. News and World Report named it the state’s best public university for diversity and innovation – Mason is a pioneer in technology and research with 40 percent of its students majoring in STEM fields. It is also the youngest nationally ranked R1 research university, a top 10 public university for cybersecurity programmes, and a top 20 public university for five different engineering and education online programmes.  University's challenge Providing an exceptional experience had to balance with the need to maintain public access to appropriate services Mason’s rapid growth requires it to embrace system-wide innovation, particularly when it comes to providing a safe, secure university environment for students, faculty, and staff. Providing an exceptional experience had to balance with the need to maintain public access to appropriate services, as well as the convenience of contactless entry and the ability to act quickly when credentials were lost, or stolen or the user’s status with the university changed.  Goal “We have a very open campus. Most of our doors are unlocked from 7 AM until 11 PM and we have a public library, so we need to make sure access control isn’t in the way. On the other side, we need to make sure that if something does happen, we can react quickly to unfolding scenarios,” said Daniel W. Anthes, Director of Technology Services, at George Mason University. “The goal is to make it safe, easy, and seamless for people to navigate campus.” Case study  Mason had already implemented a card-based access control solution featuring HID® Seos credentialling technology, HID OMNIKEY® chips, HID Asure ID card printing software, HID FARGO® printers, and HID Signo™ card readers.  Photo identification cards were encoded with appropriate credentials allowing the holder to access everything from parking to residence and dining halls to facilities and services, including data centres, libraries, and shops by simply tapping or swiping. “Eventually, we reached the point that the switch to mobile credentialling was a straightforward next phase. This would make it easier for staff and students to get where they needed to be without having to fumble with a set of keys,” said Anthes.  HID's solution HID Mobile Access lets any compatible mobile device – smartphones, tablets, or wearables – be used as a credential Mason again turned to HID and Atrium, deploying the HID Mobile Access® solution with Seos as the underlying credential technology. Atrium provisions and manages the lifecycle of the HID Mobile Access credentials. HID Mobile Access lets any compatible mobile device – smartphones, tablets, or wearables – be used as a credential to securely access doors, gates, networks, and more. It significantly increases convenience and boosts operational efficiency without compromising security.  HID Mobile Access Because Mason had Signo readers already in place, deployment of HID Mobile Access required just a simple upgrade. Importantly, while mobile access eliminates the need for physical access cards, the highly versatile Signo readers support the widest range of credential technologies via native Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC), and Apple Wallet – meaning those who choose to can continue using their physical ID cards until they are ready to transition to mobile access.  Seamless integration “Once you get them using the technology, at that point the realisation hits that this phone access is awesome. Or you can use your Apple watch and never even pull your phone from your pocket. There are a lot of things you have to navigate when considering credentials." "Fortunately, the HIDand Atrium Campus partnership offers the complete solution, bundled together and working seamlessly in the way I expected. The seamlessness of the mobile credential and how quickly they can get where they need to be with their phone or wearable is cool to see in action,” said Anthes.  Final results Mason’s more than 50,000 students, faculty, and staff can leverage mobile credentials at any campus In addition to access to approximately 7,000 doors across its campus locations, Mason’s more than 50,000 students, faculty, and staff can leverage mobile credentials at any campus cash register, printer, copy machine, and retail and recreational facility. Mobile access will increase the convenience factor exponentially for students, for example enabling express check-in for residence halls at the start 2024-25 school year which will let students bypass queues that in the past were hundreds deep and go straight to their dorm rooms.  Mason Mobile ID Mason Mobile ID has also driven a significant drop in the issuance of temporary and replacement cards, saving both the university and students time, money, and frustration. Students can also easily switch credentials to a new wearable or mobile device, eliminating the need to have this done in person – a significant convenience when Apple released its iPhone 15 shortly after Mason transitioned to mobile access.  Safety standpoint “We are only two months in, so there are a lot of benefits we have yet to see with Mason Mobile ID, but I’m excited about what we’ve already started noticing in terms of students engaging faster with their peers and community." "The police department also absolutely loves the wearables from a public safety standpoint, because they can get through the doors a whole lot faster than they could with the traditional cards or when they had to fumble with keys,” said Anthes.  Operational efficiency Going forward, Mason is exploring expanding mobile access to shuttle buses, which would also allow them to track utilisation data, and for more special events access. “New technology like mobile access is how Mason improves operations, so if there is an opportunity, I will certainly push to have HID involved. There are a lot of things you have to navigate when considering credentials. Fortunately, the HID and Atrium Campus partnership offers the complete solution, bundled together and working seamlessly in the way I expected,” said Anthes. 

Improving Les Roches campus security with HID's Mobile Access solutions
Improving Les Roches campus security with HID's Mobile Access solutions

When students come to study at the prestigious Les Roches Marbella campus in Spain, they are not just attending one of the world’s major hospitality business schools, they are also enveloped in extraordinary innovation and sophisticated living to mirror the exceptional experiences they are being prepared to facilitate in their future careers.  Real-life training site The institution aims to serve up “academic rigor with a twist of innovation and entrepreneurship” to its 1,000+ students from all corners of the planet who collectively represent more than 80 nationalities. This real-life training site for elite hospitality professionals must offer an authentic, hands-on experience to its students — one that reflects the luxurious living and progressive comforts expected from high-end hospitality properties and their employees.  Digital badge One particular aspect they sought to enrich was integrating “digital badge” access across the coastal Mediterranean To ensure Les Roches is always ahead of the curve and a model campus when it comes to exemplary learning based on cutting-edge technologies, administrators wanted to evolve its mobile ecosystem. One particular aspect they sought to enrich was integrating “digital badge” access across their coastal Mediterranean property in Spain.  Project objective The project’s objective was to migrate to a mobile credentials-based system where a student’s plastic access card is replaced by a digital ID on a smartphone. This would serve as the verification for daily physical access and digital touchpoints (e.g., building access, vending machines, restaurant reservations, etc.). This effort would also allow the school to steer digital transformation and student efficiencies throughout its security and administrative functions.  Catering to student experience “Everything here is about the student experience,” said Mano Soler, Director of Student Services and Operations at Les Roches Marbella. “It is our main driver and the reason we embrace and foster innovation because innovation makes our students’ lives easier and supports their well-being through secure technology. The students will eventually leave this campus and, in turn, take that know-how and excellence into the world with them.”  Case study challenge The team wanted a mobile solution to fit specific campus requirements such as swift access For 10 years, Les Roches Marbella relied on an RFID (radio frequency identification) card-based system to identify and grant access to students. This was a fundamental tool that nearly 1,000 individuals needed to have with them at all times to validate themselves day in and day out.  Supporting their quest for digital transformation, as part of the school’s Spark incubator programme, the leadership team wanted a mobile solution to fit specific campus requirements such as swiftly granting/removing accesses, avoiding disruption when students lose/forget cards, and accommodating a multi-system environment. Need for a mobile credentials-based system Management also wanted to drive improvements through back-office processes and procedures to save time and resources and enhance everyday life on campus through modern technology. One of the most pressing factors for this particular mobile initiative was to achieve higher efficiency around the school’s new student intake registration/check-in process each semester. Loading ID credentials individually onto RFID cards, then printing each of the 1,000+ cards, meant corrections along the way were inevitable.  System re-adaptation Yet, the transition to mobile didn’t come without a series of obstacles and serious considerations. Each touchpoint where a card was to be replaced with smartphone technology required deep analysis and complex integration work, specifically involving seven to eight different brands whose products were already deployed throughout the premises (e.g., printers, vending machines, security technologies, door access, laundry facilities, parking garages and more). Les Roches required an access partner with solutions compatible with the many other products already in play within its existing infrastructure, and an ability to successfully address former system re-adaptation.  iOS and Android support The mobile technology needed to support both Android and iOS phones, as well as physical card technology In addition, the mobile technology needed to support both Android and iOS phones, as well as physical card technology (the RFID ecosystem would remain intact for non-student purposes and serve as a migration path for other areas not yet mobile). The school wanted a single company to supply both the hardware and software elements. And, as a higher education establishment with upscale expectations and an outstanding reputation, the Les Roches decision-makers required a proven partner of this same ilk. HID solution To transform technologies and reach new degrees of onsite productivity and novel amenities, Les Roches Marbella selected HID for its unmatched mobile access portfolio. As a market pioneer in trusted identification and authentication, and with a network of partnerships that spans the globe, HID’s experts designed a system to meet each requirement from the school resulting in a tremendous collection of 40+ access points featuring mobile identification, app, portal, and reader technologies.  Mobile components from HID The integration project was completed within an accelerated time frame to ensure it was in place before students set foot onto campus that fall. HID components that comprise this robust mobile ecosystem include HID OMNIKEY® readers and reader modules (OMNIKEY 5427, OMNIKEY 5127CK Mini, OMNIKEY 5127 Reader Core), HID Signo™ access control readers, HID Seos® mobile credentials, Aperio® locks from ASSA ABLOY and Aero™ X100 door modules.  HID access technologies With a slight tap or wave of their smartphone, students interact easily with the mobile ecosystem and via the digital Seos credential to authenticate themselves as they move throughout the property each day. HID access technologies are embedded in:  Parking garage systems  Building entrances  Vending machines  Laundry facilities  Printers  Point-of-sale at restaurants/on-campus eateries  Restaurant access control  Class attendance tracking  Dorm room door locks  Mobile-first world “You cannot discount the value of mobile when it comes to today’s student populations,” said Soler. “It is their way of life. They were ‘born digital’ and they have an expectation when it comes to smart living, for them, it’s a mobile-first world. We get it. We embrace it. And, we intend to attract and retain students by offering them an unparalleled educational experience while here in Marbella.”  Efficiencies and integration  “We not only transformed our campus with epic mobile access technology but also drove important efficiencies and integration into everything we touched." "The value and inventiveness HIDexperts contributed to constructing this complicated mobile ecosystem is completely in line with our ongoing quest to ensure that innovation is at the heart of the Les RochesWay of Life," said Carlos Diez de la LastraGeneral Manager Les Roches Marbella. Results achieved HID credentials available via a smartphone make scaling individual access up and down significantly easier Tying back to one of the original reasons for this mobile initiative, registration check-ins are streamlined, and Les Roches Marbella has gained immediate improvements around this important event that takes place each semester. 100% of students use the mobile access system on campus. Students register digitally with the option to do so in-person, ahead of time, or remotely with no human interaction. HID credentials available via a smartphone make scaling individual access up and down significantly easier for IT, faculty, and students.  A unique, homegrown handheld tool On a case-by-case basis, Les Roches Marbella is already finding ways to apply its in-house ingenuity to foster disruptive thinking. The school used 3D printers to design a customised case to house phones/tablets alongside HID access modules creating a unique, homegrown handheld tool that easily allows campus security personnel to check IDs as required. This safety support tool came about when there was no suitable offering available on the market to meet the school’s specific needs for security checkpoints.  Automated student attendance tracking The flexibility and power of HID components enabled the team to re-imagine and invent an original Les Roches security product to, as always, improve the student experience. Many new use cases are in the works to fuel future “wins” across the premises. Automated student attendance tracking is already at the beginning of each class period and serves as another way to further support and protect students. Mini computers and readers were installed in each classroom so students could use their mobile ID (via their smartphone) to mark attendance.  API-based interfaces, Aero door module When students go back to their dorm rooms any time, each door loc is integrated with the Aero door module All is handled by a web application running on the mini-computer that pushes and pulls data to/from the Les Roches Absences application in real time through API-based interfaces. And, when students go back to their dorm rooms any time, each door loc is integrated with the Aero door module, providing them with a seamless experience across the entire campus.  Mobile authentication and verification “Our eyes are wide open to all the possibilities afforded by the marvelous world of mobile authentication and verification, and each week we come up with new ideas for the continued transformation we have in motion on our campus,” said Juan Luis Velasco, IT Manager at Les Roches Marbella. “Our students love this newfound convenience, and our staff members are reaping the benefits of this technology overhaul.”  Best-in-class mobile access system Les Roches Marbella has a best-in-class mobile access system that squarely aligns with the school’s wider objective to be an example of innovation and excellence in global hospitality training both within its own brand family, as well as within the broader realm of higher education. Beyond elevating the student experience through the convenience of mobile IDs and strengthening security when it comes to student safety and mobile ID verification, Les Roches Marbella has an extremely efficient, flexible, and scalable solution that can grow with them as technologies evolve and digital trends continue to transform and connect us all to an international degree.  Benefits of digital transformation “This is a story about the value of mobile and any size campus in any sector of education can benefit from the digital transformation angles when it comes to campus business,” said Velasco. “But the most rewarding aspect truly is connecting to our students in a way that’s important, convenient, and meaningful to them keeping them connected and secure via a device that’s already an extension of their existence.”