An integrated access control approach at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility ties together card access control, human resources and training information, making sure that individuals have safety training before they can enter certain areas of the sprawling facility. The system also integrates with fire, ID badging and video surveillance.

Scientists from around the world visit the Accelerator facility called JLab to advance mankind's understanding of the atom's nucleus-not only to research the make up of matter itself, but how to better produce new and stronger materials for the future. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, JLab is managed by a consortium of 53 universities, the Southeastern Universities Research Association or SURA, under contract to the Energy Department.

The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator now boasts an integrated security system that automatically verifies a cardholder's training record prior to allowing access into various parts fo the Virginia facility.

Scattering Particles

JLab's unique Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator is a machine in a racetrack-shaped concrete tunnel 7/8th of a mile long and 25 feet underground. Superconducting technology delivers a continuous beam of electrons to targets such as hydrogen, carbon, gold or lead. When the beam collides with its target in one of the three large, hill-like experimental halls, the particles scatter. By studying the speeds, direction and energy of the scattered particles, scientists learn more about how the nucleus is put together. Each year, over 1,550 scientists visit JLab, booking accelerator time years in advance.

In addition to particle physics, JLab works to educate the next generation of scientists and to partner with industry in using JLab's advanced technologies.

One of the several accelerators in the U.S., JLab consists of 82 buildings situated on 210 acres in Newport News, Virginia. The complex includes the accelerator site, administration campus and a 44-unit residential facility for visitors. A staff of 550 manages the facility and the scientific programs, and more than 1,800 badge holders have daily access to the facilities.

Training Verification Mandate

The need for an access control system at JLab to protect everyone on site, to safeguard very expensive assets and to control access to areas where safety hazards exist, is no surprise. What is unique is that the predominant driving force behind the unique system design was to automate the mandated DOE requirement that people's safety training records be verified before granting permission to any personnel to access the accelerator site.

In a research facility of this type, there are two main hazards-radiation and oxygen deficiency. To prepare everyone to work in this environment, JLab requires all personnel to take safety-training classes of different kinds and at various levels. With these needs in mind, JLab searched for a system that could both control access and tie into the existing human resource training database on the central information system.

JLab put out a Central Alarm Notification System spec for a single front-end that could not only tie into access control but also with the existing central information system as well as integrate existing fire alarm panels, video surveillance, building automation and an array of alarm monitoring systems that evolved over JLab's 10-year construction period.

Fire Integration, Too

Conseps FMS of Virginia Beach, Va., an Andover Controls representative, offered the Andover Continuum system. "What was initially very appealing to JLab," says Tony Damalas of Conseps, "was that, in addition to access control, the Continuum system could integrate and centrally control four Siemens Pyrotronics MXL analog fire alarm panels as well as interface to 16 conventional fire alarm panels using Andover Controls' "Plain English" drivers. This unique, two-way fire panel interface ultimately received a UL864 site listing."

David Kausch, fire protection engineer at JLab, says the facility presented a very tight spec. "We were looking for an integrated system to monitor all existing fire alarm control units, a high level interface with addressable fire alarm control panels and an access control system that could link to our CIS system. Specifically, we needed a data interface between JLab's central HR database and the access control database.

"Using their Plain English programming language," says Kausch, "Andover provided an interactive software interface between the two systems that would update six times a day-importing cardholder information and training information from our HR database and distributing cardholder access rights to Continuum's card readers...and all totally automated with no operator intervention required. Now we know that each person using this DOE facility has satisfied the various training requirements, and the two-way communications between the two systems makes meeting this DOE mandate much simpler."

Better After-hours Access

In addition, notes Kausch, JLab's population now has immediate access to buildings previously key-locked after normal business hours.

Continuum also has helped to automate the process of taking parts by JLab technicians from the stockroom. The JLab experimental schedule runs 24/7, and now at any time day or night, any of 300 technicians with a stockroom account can withdraw repair parts. The technicians simply present their cards to the reader outside the stockroom door and then again inside to a reader on the stockroom inventory control computer system. Thus the Continuum system and dual technology video ID badges eliminate the expense of a 24-hour stockroom attendant and the delays associated with contacting a security officer to unlock the stockroom.