Case study

Powerful on-prem access control for George Mason University

How we created a flexible and reliable access control solution that scales with George Mason University’s ambitions.

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Access control

Delivery method - on premise

Delivery method


Industry - education



About the client

Located at the heart of the Northern Virginia Tech Corridor in Fairfax, George Mason University has grown exponentially since its founding in 1972. Originally a branch campus of the University of Virginia, GMU offers 80 undergraduate programs and is home to more than 30,000 students across its 670-acre residential campus.

The challenge

Over the past eight years, GMU has opened nearly 30 new facilities and renovated numerous others as part of a large-scale construction and renovation project. This includes:

  • Dormitories
  • Research buildings
  • Hotel and conference center
  • On-site retail outlets
  • Faculty/staff housing

With over 170 buildings spread across five campuses, its existing access control system simply couldn’t provide the right level of security. What GMU needed was a robust and scalable solution that could keep up with its ambitious plans and was intuitive enough that anyone could use it.

However, GMU wanted to keep as much of its existing security hardware as possible. So, the project team needed something that would integrate effortlessly into its tech stack.

The solution

Led by Director of Physical Security Jim McCarthy, GMU identified acre as the obvious choice for its new access control solution.

Thanks to the built-in flexibility of our systems, we were able to create a tailored and user-friendly solution that:

  • Seamlessly connects GMU’s legacy hardware with the latest access control systems
  • Balances robust security with ease-of-use
  • Simplifies staff training and onboarding requirements
  • Minimizes annual software licensing and maintenance fees

Our integration partner, S3I, coordinated the integration. This covered our access control software, a combination of hardwired and wireless IP locks (more than 4,000 combined sets) from Assa Abloy and Allegion, and GMU’s exacqVision video management system.

“[The old system] was a huge training issue[…] it would sometimes take 2 hours to train people how to use the most basic parts. When we added that to the cost piece, such as the licensing, it was a no-brainer [to go with acre].
Jim McCarthy, Director of Physical Security, GMU

The result

We worked closely with McCarthy and the GWU team to deliver a solution that achieved all the University’s objectives. 
McCarthy and the team were delighted with the new system’s low total cost of operation, adaptability, and ease of use. Reflecting on the project, McCarthy said GMU now has a:

“Scalable system that has grown – and will continue to grow – along with the university”.

The team was particularly impressed by the smooth integration process, citing the clear communication between us, S3I, and GWU as integral to the project’s success.
The new access control solution shows GMU’s commitment to providing the best security available. More importantly, it gives parents and students peace of mind that they’re protected “not only in their residence halls but everywhere on campus.”

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