Iglu - cool residences, smart security

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Australian student accommodation provider Iglu has built a reputation for the coolest residences in the most vibrant locations, in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Their partnership with ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions ensures that their security is as cutting edge as their design. We spoke to Brad Magri-Olson, IT Manager at Iglu, about the benefits of smarter access solutions.

About Iglu

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Sydney, Iglu has carved out an enviable niche with its philosophy of ‘cool design, warm hospitality’, identifying the desire of students to be close to campus while still taking advantage of the independence and amenities of some of Australia’s most attractive neighborhoods. They currently run five properties in Sydney, two in Brisbane, and two in Melbourne, with more in planning. Their properties feature fully furnished apartments with spacious, inviting communal areas.

Balancing security with innovation

While creating warm, welcoming and beautifully designed accommodations is a core aim, one area is of equal importance - security. The safety and wellbeing of students is Iglu’s number one mission and they are constantly exploring ways to improve it, focusing in particular on technical innovations that can bring the right balance of convenience and safety. When searching for an access management solution, Iglu wanted to ensure they partnered with a provider with a proven track record, yet one who was also innovating in the field:

"We went through the proper due diligence of looking at all major providers in the space and determined ASSA ABLOY's VingCard solution was the one that best met our needs”

Iglu chose ASSA ABLOY’s VingCard locks - a proven solution that has been in operation throughout the hospitality and accommodation sector since the 1970s. But reliability alone was not enough - Iglu wanted to ensure that they incorporated the latest technology, futureproofing their residences.

New possibilities

“Technology has always played an important role in how we implement smarter and more effective security. We’re always looking for innovative ways to improve the security of our facilities. Without question, applications coming out of Internet of Things (IoT) are offering cutting edge capabilities. We are interested in how we could use IoT for connected or wireless door locks.”

ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions’ systems have been employed by Iglu in most of their locations since 2013, but 2019 saw a major rethink of access management. While four of the five ASSA ABLOY equipped properties had already gone online, a single property had not. As such, a pilot scheme was initiated at this property, with the overall aim of moving all residences into a fully integrated, online solution. Iglu teamed with both ASSA ABLOY and Ruckus, now part of CommScope, to design a comprehensive yet simple-to-maintain access management solution, reaping the benefits of smarter reporting and functionality while retaining core security.

The choice of Ruckus was key - smooth integration of both the ZigBee (used for online lock connectivity) and WiFi protocols meant that only a single wireless network was required, radically reducing complexity, cost, and maintenance. By avoiding the additional infrastructure of an overlay network, cabling and hardware costs were reduced by 20% in just the pilot project alone. In addition, ASSA ABLOY’s VingCard connected door locks and Visionline online lock management system integrated seamlessly with existing Ruckus infrastructure, making implementation that much easier.

Since the properties already had students in residence, another concern was reducing disruption - by choosing a solution that combined wireless connectivity, existing locks, and cable-free installation, students were able to go about their daily lives relatively undisturbed.

“After the project was implemented, it has been a smooth operation. It was coordinated well between ASSA ABLOY, Ruckus and our Managed Service Provider (Platform 24) and the implementation of this had minimal impact on our residents due to the ZigBee network being controlled through the I100 dongle rather than a cabled ZigBee network.”

The pilot project demonstrated the advantages of an integrated and easily maintained student access management solution and Iglu was therefore delighted to recently bring another property online with ASSA ABLOY and Ruckus, this time in Melbourne's bustling South Yarra district.

Solving challenges

Iglu were very clear about the challenges that they faced:

“We knew we would need to have a plan in place to quickly respond to instances of lost or stolen keys, have access to real-time audit logs of access cards or locks and alarm and reporting functionality for detecting abnormal guest card or system behavior.”

They needed an access management solution that not only simplified day-to-day administration, but that could ultimately allow them to better respond to students’ needs. The detailed data that ASSA ABLOY’s system provides allows them to constantly refine their security for a better service.

Iglu was also quick to realize the broader possibilities of a smarter access solution, particularly to support them in their pastoral care and student wellbeing efforts. They initiated testing of a ‘no door activity’ feature, with administrators receiving alerts if a door has not been activated over a set period of time. The implications are clear - faster response times to bring help to at-risk students and develop a more holistic strategy as to what it means to be safe and secure.

What does the future hold?

The use of the ‘no door activity’ to enhance general student wellbeing is just one example of how Iglu is constantly investigating innovative options to enhance student life, bringing a forward-thinking philosophy to all their locations, current and planned. Futureproofing is a major factor in Iglu’s thinking and fundamental to their choice of ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions as a partner. Both companies are passionate about exploring the conveniences and efficiencies that technical innovation brings, while staying true to the core values of student safety and security. By choosing ASSA ABLOY at an early stage, Iglu is able to incrementally roll out additional features as their needs evolve, adding functionality to their existing ecosystem with easy integration of new technologies.

For example, with residences using ASSA ABLOY’S VingCard solution spread over six locations in three states, cloud-based reporting and management will ultimately be key in giving administrators quick and complete oversight into system operations and activity within the property.

“Implementing a cloud-hosted solution will be one of the major upcoming evolutions of the system. This would assist us in being able to implement integrations with our booking and billing system whilst still maintaining the security without having to open up on-premise servers.”

In addition, Iglu is considering incorporating ASSA ABLOY’s mobile access solution, allowing students to access their rooms and common areas with just their mobile device. There are many benefits in terms of convenience, like no more lost keys being just one example, and with the mobile access app, Livvi, there are even more ways for Iglu to engage with their students.

While Iglu has differentiated themselves with great design and welcoming spaces, they are keen to emphasize the sense of security that their customers can enjoy at the properties. To do this they need to have complete confidence, knowing that they have the right technology in place:

“ASSA ABLOY has proven its ability to maintain its strong performance in the access control market and we hope that this continues to happen in the future.”

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