When South Australia’s Department for Education built its first new school in 20 years, it wanted to make sure that the school was a state-of-the-art building in every way, including its access control system.

Adelaide Botanic High School is the first vertical high school in the state, consisting of 2 high rises – one a converted 5-storey University of South Australia building and the other a 6-storey new construction. The 2 buildings are linked with bridges on the higher floors and connected with a central atrium. Set in parklands, the school has minimal grounds and no perimeter fencing, meaning access has to be managed within the building itself.

George Dunleavy – strategic manager of security and emergency management for South Australia’s Department for Education, explains the challenges, and how they were addressed with the SALTO Gallagher integration, one of the most advanced and innovative electronic security partnerships on the market.

“As a new school, starting with just year 8 and 9 students, we were looking at considerable growth over the coming years, as we increase to our predicted full complement of 1250 students,” Dunleavy said. “That potentially also means changes in the way the school operates.

“First and foremost, we had to make sure that our access control system didn’t limit us in any way for future expansion. One of our first decisions was for a completely keyless solution as we knew that keys would certainly limit any future expansion plans.”

Security is, of course, a major concern for schools – and Adelaide Botanic High School wanted to be able to secure individual classrooms, with privacy doors that could be locked from the inside in case of an intruder. It was important to continue the design aesthetic throughout the interior, including the door furniture.

“We were looking for an access control solution that gave us the right combination of functionality and good looks”, Dunleavy said. “Integration was an essential requirement. We needed to be able to manage a wide range of security concerns through a common platform, while leveraging the flexibility and capabilities afforded by the SALTO access control system. SALTO has been the department’s preferred wireless access control solution for a number of years and the fact that SALTO integrates into the Gallagher head end system was vital for us.”

The Department also wanted to avoid students having to carry multiple cards, and needed an access control system that could use their existing MiFare EV1 student cards. SALTO was selected for 123 internal doors in the school, including classrooms, server rooms, staff rooms, meeting rooms, sports facilities, and performance spaces.

“We selected the XS4 One wireless BLE lock,” Dunleavy said. “With 115 doors having online locks and the rest using SALTO Virtual Network (SVN), with data-on-card. Access can easily be tailored for each individual user. For example, we have some students in wheelchairs, and we can give them lift access. Senior students might have additional access rights, say, outside normal hours. If an external sports club hires out the gym, we can allow them to come in only on certain days and times.”

In the case of an emergency that requires lockdown, staff or students can use an electronic button on the rear of the door to lock themselves in. The internal doors are managed via SALTO’s ProAccess SPACE software, which integrates seamlessly with the Gallagher head end system. ProAccess SPACE currently runs on a server in the school, but in 2021 will move to a cloud-based system.

“Because the Department has a number of schools running on SALTO, it makes sense to have a centralised SPACE hub as a single management point,” explains Dunleavy.

“We really like the flexibility of the virtual network as a backup, and that we don’t have to be completely reliant on being online all the time. If you lose connectivity you still have the data-on-card as a backup.”

The whole process, from concept to implementation, provided South Australia’s Department for Education with important learnings and a solid foundation to design the next batch of public schools in the State, which are already underway.

According to Dunleavy, the key benefits of selecting SALTO include:

* Ease of operation – no keys to replace, and the ability to manage different access profiles
* Future proofing – flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the school as it grows
* Integration with primary security – seamless integration with the Gallagher security system
* Access management – by groups of people with the same requirements, or down to individuals
* Bluetooth credentials – the option for staff to use their mobile phone as their security credential
* Tracking and accountability – no sharing of credentials, and full visibility of who has accessed (or tried to access) which doors
* Wireless BLE locks – for rapid installation and ease of retrofitting if needed
* Virtual network – the flexibility of having a backup, and not relying on being online all the time. The school uses SALTO on one external access door so they know that, even without power, they can always get into the building, without a key override.

“With the SALTO EAC, there’s never any doubt that someone has a card they shouldn’t have. We know that credentials aren’t going to be passed around, and can’t be copied,” Dunleavy said. “It makes managing the site so much easier – knowing that access won’t be possible for unauthorised people and that if they try, we can see the attempt on a report.”