An Access Journey Part I: Northern Virginia Community College

In a campus environment, safety means many things. From safety officers to security cameras, from late night shuttles to mental health services, safety for students is top of mind for many, bringing a passionate involvement and commentary from students, faculty, alumni, and parents. Creating the right level of security requires a fine balance; your plan should blend and enhance the campus experience, not hinder it.

At the very foundation of a security plan, all campuses can benefit from some level of access control, but at CBORD we know there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to implementing, expanding, and maintaining an access control program. We spent time with three campuses—each unique in its implementation of an access program—but all with the same goal: campus safety.

Part I: Campus by Campus, Building by Building

Northern Virginia Community College is comprised of six campuses, two centers, and approximately 49 buildings scattered around the suburbs of Washington, DC. Fernando Seminario is the Project Manager for Door Access and has been with NOVA since their access program's infancy.

Back in 2008, a couple of readers were added 'here and there' to address a specific security concern. The initial success and efficiency of those locks propelled other departments and other campuses to push towards campus-wide access control. Campus security, local police, emergency preparedness, and maintenance all worked with Seminario to devise a plan to install readers across all six campuses.

A Man with a Plan

In 2012, Seminario began installing electronic locks for every exterior door on all six of NOVA's campuses. NOVA decided on the HID iClass (smartcard) reader that came equipped with a keypad component. The keypad was requested by security, in case of a lockdown, a code could be given out to local police and other first responders who would need to enter the buildings. This first stage was finished in the spring of 2015 bringing the current total number of readers to 580.

The next step was categorizing interior rooms/areas that would be included in the access program, including IT rooms, facility rooms, and all of the classrooms. "The classrooms are a big one from a physical team management standpoint," explains Seminario. NOVA employs a lot of teaching staff—adjuncts, part-time, full-time—all of whom will be assigned access on their ID badges. "CBORD software is streamlining the way we grant access—moving everything online so that the new process is much easier than installing and distributing physical keys."

Seminario's plan is moving across the NOVA campuses, installing AD-300 (wired readers) on interior doors. NOVA has also decided to include electronic locks as part of all new construction.

Grants, Advice, and the Future

Seminario applied for and was awarded grants for some of NOVAs campuses—and interior doors were fitted with electronic locks prior to the formal plan rolling out. But this only helped fuel the expansion—word of mouth spread and soon all the campuses were asking for the locks.

And that is part of Seminario's advice to other campuses looking to expand their access, "Faculty and staff support is key. Then you come up with a plan of doors you want to do and chip away at it every year." Seminario expects NOVA will expand by 2000 more readers over the next 4-5 years. "Whatever it takes to get it done and make sure our students and faculty are safe."

Takeaway: Starting small can help to prove the value and pave the way to gaining champions across invested but disparate departments. Show the value early on with a small investment, and have a plan for rolling out ready to go.