Jerry Assal: Kaba and EdR, A Customer Success Story

by Scott Reid

As one of the nation’s largest developers, owners, and managers of high-quality collegiate housing communities, EdR has been a perennial leader in the student housing industry since 1964. Founded in 1952 in Memphis, Tennessee, the company quickly became known as one of the most successful developers in the country.

Twelve years later, they introduced the “student hotel concept” to the market, which has grown to become a vibrant, active student housing industry.

With an extensive portfolio of both privatized and university-owned collegiate housing communities, their pioneering history and innovative approach, EdR is the benchmark company within the student housing industry. Many of their concepts and practices have been adopted as standard operating procedure by their industry peers.

Most important to EdR’s success is their talent for listening and collaboration with their collegiate partners to create unique solutions for each university or college. This long-term investment process includes careful planning and proposals that are suited exclusively for the needs of the institution. Beginning with the initial purchase and development of land, to the day when the building is occupied by students, constant attention to detail is required. As housing facilities are built, certain building systems are specified and installed according to plans. One such system is the access and key control of the property.

In the early 2000s when enrollments began increasing at a greater pace, university leaders became aware that outdated housing could not provide for the needs of a “wired” generation. It was clear there was a need for new construction of privatized developments, and repurposing of school-owned facilities.

With more than 50 years of experience in the development and management of collegiate housing, EdR knew of certain requirements and amenities that would appeal to a student population and meet the needs of growing universities.

Mike Bertoldo, director of construction for EdR comments that “student housing access control has special needs compared to the traditional hotel market. Many buildings now have resident suites with multiple units in each one. However, when the mechanical key of one person’s bedroom within a suite is lost or stolen, it creates a problem.”

In addition, locks using mechanical keys need to be physically changed at each semester turn. “August can make or break you in our industry during student registration and check-in,” Bertoldo says. “The process of key control becomes much easier with Kaba programmable electronic locks. They save time, save labor, and save money.”

EdR was aware of the benefits that electronic locks would provide when dealing with key control, and saw them as a perfect fit for student housing projects. It was a natural transition for them to evolve with this technology and bring it to their mulithousing end customers of colleges and universities. This new system would also enable EdR to reduce mounting operating costs at each semester turn, and provide greater convenience and enhanced security for students — with the assurance of their safety for concerned parents.

In 2005, after a thorough analysis of electronic lock systems, EdR chose to team up with Saflok, the pioneer manufacturer of advanced access control systems and electronic locks. (Saflok has since become a brand within Kaba Access & Data Systems – Americas). Saflok developed new access control technology exclusively for mulithousing applications that benefits property owners, maintenance staff and residents with cost-effective solutions. EdR began to offer an electronic key and access control solution by selecting System 6000 software and MT locks from Kaba.

Working with the same magnetic stripe and RFID technologies used in hotels, Kaba electronic locking systems can be found today in the majority of more than 70 student housing projects throughout the country that are managed and/or owned by EdR.

Typically, the planning process of a student housing property is when Kaba electronic locks are chosen for access control, and specified for new construction or renovation. Since technology has evolved from magnetic stripe card locking systems to Radio Frequency ID (RFID), EdR has transitioned to Kaba RT locks for student housing. The RT system features a wireless, standalone lock with RFID contactless technology. It is the latest of many electronic lock models operated by Kaba’s System 6000 software and features proximity readers, with a variety of credential options for lock system users. Depending on the application and preference, they can be in the form of a keycard, FOB, or wristband. Kaba RT Locks have all the features and benefits for the convenience and safety of students, while providing key control, accountability, and savings for property management.

RT electronic locks are made with fully sealed, tamper-proof readers that enhance user convenience and improve operational efficiency. This sturdy and durable lock system is easy to install and use, and works with Windows-based System 6000 software and the optional Messenger on-line wireless system. The RT hardware selection has a fit for all areas of a typical student housing community. Expanding from more than just residential units, exercise rooms, stairwells, parking garages, pool gates, or community rooms –the RT lock is used to secure amenity areas and perimeter doors as well. It can be programmed for student use everywhere on campus with easy access. With student housing apartments and suites having multiple bedrooms, the software is programmed to recognize roommates as individual users within the suite lock. For example, if one student loses his or her key, a new key is made for that student, which cancels out the old key, but has no effect on the other roommates within the suite. Management and staff also benefit from the audit trail reports that capture all door transactions for students’ optimum safety and security. In the event of lost or stolen goods, an audit report can be generated by the staff to determine when and by whom a door was opened. This greatly deters theft, and also significantly reduces the potential for liabilities.

Development and management of each student housing project is unique with its own set of property requirements and applications for access control. The RT lock system functions without keys and features a sealed sensor that operates the lock when activated by a keycard, FOB, or wristband.

The selection, specification, installation and management of a property’s access control system is dependent upon many buying influences including: owners, architects, developers, management companies, end customers, maintenance, contractors, installers, and distributors. As a global leader and innovative manufacturer of electronic lock systems, Kaba does its part by designing and producing solutions to the satisfaction of everyone involved. Student housing projects require the collaborative efforts of many. Regarding the safety and security of students, Kaba is proud to be a key member of the EdR team in helping to provide “the best of everything in collegiate housing.”

Jerry Assal is market development manager for Kaba Access & Data Systems Americas. Some of the properties EdR and Kaba have partnered include the Retreat at Oxford at the University of Mississippi; Campus West, which serves Syracuse University; The Marshall at the University of Minnesota; and 3949 Lindell at Saint Louis University.

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