Securing student accommodation: SMARTair™ access control has the flexibility to handle high traffic and rapid resident turnover


October 23, 2017

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Given the choice, would you rather run security at a bank vault or at student halls of residence?

At least the bank job is straightforward: keep the money inside, and everyone else out. If only protecting hundreds of young people was so easy.

Student accommodation blocks are usually large, with high traffic moving from bedrooms to common areas, canteens and libraries.

A single resident travelling between her room, a study area, the gym and a couple of trips offsite would use secure doors 15 times a day. In a residence housing just 200 students, that’s 3,000 daily events for the access system to handle.

Rapid student turnover puts a further admin burden on facility managers. Imagine, among hundreds of students living at the halls, just a handful leave or arrive each semester.

The current crop of students expect convenience as a standard feature, not a mechanical solution first used in Ancient Egypt

That’s a couple of manual key handovers to schedule every week, and to chase if a key-holder fails to appear. If keys are not handed in, is a room really secure for its next occupant?

And how can you know if one has been copied? With physical keys and mechanical locks, security lacks flexibility, and it’s impossible to get a site overview without a time-wasting manual key audit.

Today’s students, tomorrow’s secure solutions

Mechanical security is not the answer, because mechanical locks don’t offer the control or flexibility managers need. There’s no real-time monitoring, and you can’t generate detailed audit trails for locks or users, meaning there’s no easy way to track unauthorised access — in cases of a theft, for example.

The current crop of students — so-called ‘Generation Z’ — were raised as digital natives. They expect convenience as a standard feature, not a mechanical solution first used in Ancient Egypt.

In Europe’s increasingly international, marketised higher education system, attracting these tech-savvy students and keeping them satisfied with the campus experience are critical.

The SMARTair™ wireless access system is built to meet the challenges of securing a student residence:

  1. A system needs the product and software robustness to handle so many users, high traffic, and fast resident turnover. SMARTair™ has it.
  2. A system should make student life easier with cards, rather than keys. SMARTair™ does.
  3. A system should secure more than just doors, including cabinet locks and devices to protect secure areas like car parks. SMARTair™ does.
  4. A system must be easy to upgrade in the future, both adding new doors and upgrading the functionality of the devices already installed. SMARTair™ is; it future-proofs your investment.
  5. A system should be able to handle additional student services like the vending machines and canteen on the same credential card as the room door lock. SMARTair™ can.

A wireless access control system like SMARTair™ solves admin problems with a combination of control and cost-effectiveness. It is based on battery-powered locks and is easy to retrofit wirelessly to existing premises or incorporate in a new-build.

Installers simply swap the existing mechanical lock for a wireless device and link the door to the management software.

Slim, robust SMARTair™ devices can secure almost any opening. Escutcheons (with optional keypad for added security) are ideal for student bedrooms, and fit wood or glass, emergency exit and even fire doors.

Because SMARTair™ devices run on standard batteries, the system is also cost-effective for accommodation providers

Available with or without PIN entry, SMARTair™ wall readers can filter lift, main door or car park access. The SMARTair™ knob cylinder is easy to retrofit to management offices; you just replace an existing mechanical cylinder with the SMARTair™ device.

For storing belongings, SMARTair™ cabinet and locker locks are configurable in the same system without the need for an extra module.

With SMARTair™, students come and go using programmable smart cards, tags, or even the secure SMARTair™ mobile app — not a cumbersome, easy-to-lose key. SMARTair™ devices support all major RFID technologies.

Plus, students only need carry one credential to open their door and access additional onsite services. A single card to unlock their room, secure their belongings inside a locker, enter the library, pay for photocopying and buy lunch makes sense for them.

It’s another step to boosting resident convenience.

And because SMARTair™ devices run on standard batteries, the system is also cost-effective for accommodation providers.

Already trusted by students all over Europe

SMARTair™ is already making life easier for student residence managers all over Europe, including at Mezzino’s Rialto Court in Middlesbrough. “We are so pleased with the result. We are already looking to adopt the access control system for the other student accommodation properties we manage nationwide,” says James McGrath, Mezzino’s co-owner and director.

At Funway Academic Resort in Madrid, student rooms are locked with SMARTair™ escutcheons. Energy-saving wall devices inside rooms regulate electricity use, and students have an individual safe fitted with a SMARTair™ cabinet lock.

Students and staff open all their authorised doors with the same access card: the Funway gym, study rooms, games rooms, swimming pool and changing rooms, spa and staff areas are also locked with SMARTair™ escutcheons.

“The system meets the expectations we had and offers very easy maintenance,” says Mario Arias, Facility Manager at Funway.

Discover how SMARTair™ can upgrade student security and put you in total control of your halls of residence.


ASSA ABLOY is the global leader in door opening solutions, dedicated to satisfying end-user needs for security, safety and convenience. Since its formation in 1994, ASSA ABLOY has grown from a regional company into an international group with about 47,000 employees, operations in more than 70 countries and sales close to SEK 71 billion. In the fast-growing electromechanical security segment, the Group has a leading position in areas such as access control, identification technology, door automation and hotel security.

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