From lockdowns to everyday access: electronic locking systems

Written by

13 August 2019


4 min read

For a complex residential school, the transition from a traditional lock and key system meant the need for a versatile, innovative lock solution...

For a complex residential school, the transition from a traditional lock and key system meant the need for a versatile, innovative lock solution. We spoke to ASSA ABLOY about the all-in-one SMARTair system.


In lockdown situations and when the need for specialised security within different areas of a complex arises, the need for an advanced security system is paramount. It’s for these reasons that a residential school in Auckland invested in a system that allowed for the detailed tracking of movements within the campus’ different areas, as well as the ability to lockdown the entire school at the touch of a button.


Designed for school-age pupils to live on campus, Westbridge Residential School is home to a large group of children and young adults and staffed by a significant teacher presence. Located in Massey in West Auckland, the school was previously managed by a traditional lock and key system in which staff had to carry around various keys to move around the campus. 


Westbridge provides intensive support for children and young people with highly complex, challenging behaviour and social or educational needs. Its programme is designed to support students in acquiring new behavioural skills to enable them to successfully transition back to their whanau and into a mainstream educational setting. 


“We essentially had a safety and security need,” Westbridge executive officer Joanna Brunton says. “We needed to be able to discourage students from going where they didn’t need to be on site or redirect a student who was in a heightened state from re-entering a classroom and potentially disrupting the class or causing damage. With over 50 staff members, we needed much more subtlety in assigning access permissions, which you simply can’t do with a bundle of metal keys.”

This struggle was the central premise for ASSA ABLOY when designing a contemporary solution. “The school was struggling with the existing mechanical lock and key system. Managing access was becoming very difficult and in the situation where keys were lost, re-keying was proving to be an expensive and time consuming process,” ASSA ABLOY’s Nitin Nambiar says.


“They wanted a system where each staff member could be issued with one card rather than multiple keys; cards that could be programmed for the required level of access. This was envisioned as a way to manage who can access different areas of the school and at what times.”


The system that was employed is known as SMARTair - a fully contained access control system that is managed from a central point in real time. “With full control from a single access point, in this case a school server, the school can now add, delete and modify users, change access levels and track movements in real time within the building,” Nitin says.


“It has meant each staff member can be issued with a single card, and the need for various keys to be used has been removed. In the instance a card is lost or obtained by a person who should not have the card, the uses of the card can be tracked in real time to locate the person using it, and at the same time the card’s access levels can be blocked or deleted.”


In lockdown situations, the entire school can be locked down from the central server without the need for individual staff members to lock doors. “Essentially, the SMARTair system provides a new level of control, ideal for this environment and for those situations like lockdowns where security is paramount.

Westbridge Residential School

“SMARTair has given the school a simple control interface where they assign which doors can be opened by which cards. The software sits on the school’s server and is connected to a network of nine hubs around the school. With this system, the school can easily control access to different areas and undertake a complete lockdown should such a need arise,” Nitin says.


For the school and staff, it has changed the way the facility is run. “From a facilities management point of view, the solution has done absolutely everything we wanted it to do in terms of safety, security and monitoring. It is a massive improvement.” Joanna says.


As schools around the country practice lockdowns, it is systems like SMARTair that provide a relevant security solution for young people and staff at educational facilities.


Visit ASSA ABLOY on ArchiPro here to find out more about this innovative electronic access system.