Customer assistance and emergency call boxes can join with life safety systems.

Tony Wait drives home the point. “Parking spaces are a scarce, valuable resource,” contended Wait, general manager for The Village of Breckenridge (Colo.) Homeowners’ Association (HOA).

Of all the security equipment he’s recommended and acquired in his 18 years as director of safety and security at High Point Regional Hospital in High Point, NC, Bryan Koontz says one product stands out as “the most cost-effective piece of equipment we’ve ever purchased.” He uses wireless call boxes to improve parking lot safety.

Bob Johnson, director of location systems for 107 South 10th Street InterPark in Philadelphia, uses technology that ties revenue transaction information together with garage access control, audio customer service and video surveillance information.

Emergency call boxes in parking facilities can integrate with security video to capture images when a button is pushed.


“Right from the beginning there was a need to ensure that this garage was more than just a place to park, but the start of an enjoyable and stress-free journey through Toronto Pearson Airport,” said Frank Miceli, manager of the garage construction and a key member of the Airport Development team. And a sophisticated communications intercom system is at the heart of the duress system.

At Colorado-area Kaiser Permanente, Security Manager Jeff Karpovich took a proactive stance called HELP, for healthcare emergency locator phone.

The Village of Breckenridge HOA uses a Brivo Systems-developed OnPark online parking reservation system to improve parking management, increase revenues and enhance security. The system uses Brivo’s XML Application Programming Interface to connect with the community’s existing online access control system.

“We had to find a way to better utilize this limited resource and to capture parking revenue, if possible,” said Wait. Integrator Neal Marcus Securus introduced them to XML API technology, which allows different systems to exchange data in the XML standard so they can “understand” one another. Guests receive a parking permit to display on their vehicles. Each permit has a microchip, which can be programmed remotely.

At High Point Regional Hospital, Koontz uses wireless call boxes, CALL24, for parking lot safety for its 2,000 employees and 250-plus doctors. Koontz had seen a hardwire call box system at another hospital and asked RCS Communications Group to supply a wireless approach for his facility. The system consists of highly visible, push button security communication call boxes and a base controller for the security dispatcher. Communications is via two-way radio frequencies and the call box power system uses a battery that is recharged nightly. Besides lower cost, another important advantage of using two-way radio frequencies instead of telephone lines is the improved communication with security officers dispatched to a box location thanks to advanced signaling technology. Koontz believes the system goes a long way in minimizing the hospital’s liability for parking lot crime. “Statistics show most crimes in the United States occur in or around parking lots,” said Koontz.

Whether wired or wireless, parking lot and garage communications systems often integrate with security video. One example is Honeywell’s ParkMAXX solution, an automated system tying revenue transaction information together with garage access control, audio customer service and video surveillance. “We expect to add the solution to many more facilities,” said Bob Johnson, director of location systems for 107 South 10th Street InterPark in Philadelphia.

At Toronto Pearson International Airport, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority or GTAA thought long and hard about security at a new eight-level, 9,000-vehicle garage facility. According to Miceli, the garage has used a number of new and existing technologies. Some include:
  • Overhead signs notifying drivers which floors have available parking spaces.

  • Detectors placed above each parking spot in short term parking record how many spaces are available at all times and display this information at the end of each aisle.

  • Traffic management cameras alert staff of traffic flow problem issues.

  • Emergency duress call stations and information call stations are conveniently located at hundreds of key garage areas structure.

  • State of the art digital video and audio recording systems to record and log call information from various sites and events as required in the designated garage facility.

AVI-based systems can integrate with proximity and smartcards to better control vehicle and driver access to a parking facility.


A RING Communications Intercom system is the heart of the garage duress system. In addition to instant communications, the system directs or points security cameras to the call site area and switches the digital video and audio recording systems to real-time record mode at the security operations center. The RING system has grown a great deal in 25 years and now has expanded to an airport wide network of 14 intercom systems interconnecting more than 1,300 individual intercom stations.

At Colorado-area Kaiser Permanente, Security Manager Jeff Karpovich took a proactive stance on securing his facilities. Communication across the campus grounds is critical in the integrated security effort. Talk-A-Phone created communication towers outside the buildings, which Karpovich calls HELP, for healthcare emergency locator phone.

Talk-A-Phone also has developed a wide-area emergency broadcast system called WEBS. It integrates the company’s emergency/information phone and wide-area broadcast capabilities into a single emergency/information communication system. The tower features concealed high-powered speakers that provide 360° coverage for both locally and remotely transmitted emergency broadcasts to large populated areas.

Another parking security approach from Nedap is a driver-based vehicle access system with three components: a personnel ID, an in-vehicle card Booster device and a long-range reader. The personnel ID, such as a standard proximity card or smartcard, can be used to access through the perimeter in a vehicle to provide proper identification for authorized drivers as well as for building access.

SIDEBAR: ID Card Design 101

Cards and badges can play an access role into parking lots and badges. Especially at enterprises wishing to show their brand, corporate culture or identity on a card, solid design is important. With most applications, there are common elements: photos, logos and names. Consider the following to optimize your card design:
  • Photos should be taken with a high resolution camera to ensure crisp images. Blurry or out-of-focus images can result in uncertainty and difficult identification.

  • The photo of the cardholder should be large enough for quick visual identification.

  • Logos are an important branding element of the design but should not compromise the other security features in the card.

  • Names should be large enough for most people to see from a distance.
Placement of visual elements is of paramount importance when designing cards. If the card has any type of encoded intelligence, image wear must be considered. Barcode, magnetic stripe and contact smartcards typically require physical contact with the reader and this can wear away printed images. Images or text should never be printed on top of magnetic stripes or smart chips.

Always remember:

Most ID cards are actually keys to a garage, building and maybe even other assets. Addresses should never be printed on the card; instead use a PO Box for lost cards with the “if found, drop in any mailbox.”

Never should a Social Security number or other identification number that is confidential be printed on the card. This should be encoded on the card and not visible to the naked eye. Remember less is better.

Secure IDs are difficult to alter or replicate and are better protected from wear. Additional security can be added to the card.

Security Magazine thanks Amy Keran of Datacard Group for the card design tips as well as the card examples shown.