Finding the key for University of Birmingham

North is a trusted partner of the University of Birmingham, one of the world’s top 100 universities, supplying, installing and maintaining the university’s extensive Gallagher Access Control system. The university contracted North to support a large, complex and time-sensitive project – the design and installation of keyless access control for more than 30,000 students and 6,000 doors across all its campus sites.

The traditional use of physical keys was expensive and time consuming to administrate, resulting in students waiting for access into their accommodation. The secure, reliable and cost-effective solution that North developed in close collaboration with the university replaced conventional keys with smart access cards. This also resolved key management and distribution when student keys were inevitably lost or not returned.

One of the biggest challenges faced was the project timescales, with only two months (during the summer holidays) to install the system and get it operational. This required careful synchronisation with building management who were renovating rooms at the same time. Another significant challenge was to integrate our new access control management platform with the existing university room management system that allocates rooms. Our project team delivered everything on time and budget, creating a seamless user experience.

Rather than students spending their first day awaiting room key distribution, the new system allows the university to send key cards out in advance as part of a welcome pack, enhancing the arrival experience. Operational costs have been significantly reduced, and staff time freed up.

The system also provides a huge improvement in security. Smart card usage data at the beginning of the new term shows the university who has arrived and who hasn’t, and if a room is no longer required it can be quickly re-allocated. It also allows staff to check on the well-being of students by monitoring access – something that’s particularly important for students under the age of 18.

The Gallagher Access Control system has now been expanded throughout the university campus allowing management of accessibility for students and staff within both teaching and accommodation buildings.


University of Birmingham