Peeking into certain business sectors – three health care facilities, state government and a private university – there are outstanding examples of facilities and their security leaders using technology to validate security’s value, create business efficiencies and to build quality teams.

The three sectors have unique needs. The environment is relatively open – people are coming and going, sometimes at all hours, and there is a broad range of stakeholders to please.

Located in different parts of the country, Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga., Norton Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville, Ky., St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, the state of Mississippi’s Finance Department and Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y., are embracing security technology in new construction and existing areas of their respective facilities. What also bonds them is their leadership to create a secure environment, always staying mindful of the human factor and meeting the needs of stakeholders.

For David Whittaker, director of ESD/Security for Norton Brownsboro Hospital, challenges include securing a new facility that would incorporate scalable technology and accommodate the hospital’s growth.

Joe Laveneziana, director of Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Vincent’s Medical Center, is using technology to manage the risks associated with a facility that is a microcosm of the society and the community in which it resides. “Hospital security is a very complex operation because we reflect what’s out there in our community,” he says. “From a crime standpoint, what happens in the community has the capability of coming to your door step. And you are open 24 hours a day to the public. Risk assessment and having solid security measures in place is the key to managing those risks.”

For Andrew Corsaro, director of Security at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, the goal was to not only incorporate security into a new wing of the hospital, but to ensure that hospital staff trusted and respected security’s role.          


The Art of Integration

Before Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) made the decision to hire a full time security director, hospital personnel conducted a security assessment that ultimately revealed that hospital employees had a low opinion about their safety at work.

“That was a problem,” says Corsaro, “and I was hired to fix it.” At the same time that Corsaro was hired, Jim Wise, security systems coordinator, was brought on board and both were dropped into the final half of construction of a large patient tower. “We were charged with getting access control, video, and security – everything – into this project. We had to play catch up,” Corsaro says.

There are numerous elements that go into the creation of a security system for a new facility. Corsaro says that his goal was to reinforce the importance of security and increase the awareness of it among employees, while creating a safe environment for patients and visitors. And he wanted the new system to allow room for growth.

Corsaro implemented an enterprise security management system from Johnson Controls that uses its own IT infrastructure to provide an unobtrusive and dynamic security system throughout the main NGMC campus and in many of its satellite locations.

It is all encompassing in terms of technology, security, efficiency and ultimately, the best for the hospital’s stakeholders – its patients and staff. The new system incorporates access control, IP video, identity management, HVAC and fire safety. Even better, the new tower’s configuration on campus allows for a second tower to be built alongside, and a new hospital campus in Braselton, Georgia is planned for construction in the near future – both can be supported by the new security management system. “The potential expansion of our organization in the future is huge,” says Corsaro.

The security management system allows Corsaro and his staff, which consists of 42 officers – 28 full time and 14 part time – to configure and manage access control devices, conduct badge-holder maintenance and to monitor alarms. It’s also integrated with the NGMS human resources database, so data input is minimized and operations are streamlined. Integration with badging equipment also minimizes data entry and allows a system-wide check of photo IDs, and revocation of cardholder access.

NGMS is also using a visitor management system that allows Corsaro and his staff to process visitors by scanning someone’s ID, which is checked against an internal database and which then issues a visitor badge. For vendors, the system can be configured to automatically add pre-registered, credentialed vendors through a kiosk system which allows self badging. Corsaro says he appreciates that the system helps him to control how many visitors are approved to enter certain clinical areas of the facility.

“We recently took over control of ID badges from the human resources department,” Corsaro explains. “Once a new hire begins work, my staff and I train them on how our ID system works, including our policies and procedures. I think that this gives them a ‘face’ to associate with security. We’re not just a department. We’re a constant presence.”

The video system has more than 400 cameras, including a mix of both fixed and pan, tilt, and zoom. The entire system works off a DVR network with built-in analytics, to help Corsaro identify potential real time threats. Corsaro says that while the video analytics is still being developed within their system, it’s helping in prevention of access to unauthorized areas and with loss prevention. “We are a tobacco free campus and it’s even helping to catch people who prop open an exterior door to smoke outside,” he says. “This environment is very open, so our best defense, using technology, is access control and good camera placement. In our design you can’t get in or out of this facility without being captured on either system.”

A wireless panic system ensures safety at the Laurelwood mental health facility that’s located on campus. Wireless pendants are worn by staff members giving them the ability to call for emergency support anywhere within the facility. Because the panic system is integrated with the security management system, cameras can be trained on an event in real time.

Wise says, “Because all of these systems are integrated and ride on our existing network, we can manage them in multiple facilities more efficiently and do it from a single location within our new command center. Trained officers are able to use the system to proactively monitor our campus both inside and out, which increases our ability to be many places at once.”

“The systems are also valuable in crime prevention and detection, the investigation of security related incidents and in managing risk in situations where litigation may come into play,” says Corsaro. “Using cameras and archived video, we can deter thefts in parking lots, weapons from being brought into our buildings, keep hospital property from walking out the door and provide evidence of our conduct when we come in contact with patients and visitors. Our team can also access the systems from other authorized workstations throughout our facilities while at work in another location.”

“I’ve gotten positive feedback on these security systems from our staff, as well as our public safety partners within the community,” Corsaro adds. “For example, the local police have resolved a number of cases because of our ability to provide video evidence. The organization as a whole takes workplace safety very seriously. You can see it in our staff and leadership and now in our security technology upgrades. We know there’s an expectation from every person who walks in our doors that they’re going to be kept safe while in our facility. Having this technology in place really does provide an added sense of security and helps us meet that expectation.”

The security system also allows for control over HVAC systems and other equipment from one location or by using the Internet. Plant Operations can control the fire system, including alarms and smoke detectors. HVAC can be shut down or turned off in the event of an alarm to help control the spread of a fire or exhaust smoke. Doors can also be automatically unlocked.

Corsaro acknowledges that the technology implemented is impressive, yet says that’s not enough. Corsaro and Wise had to integrate the technology with a hospital culture, which at the start was complacent and apprehensive about reporting security incidents. “We were challenged to raise awareness and grow a culture away from the belief that security is another department’s job. Our security awareness programs are designed to educate and share realistic and factual security threats to our organization. We have found that by sharing information it empowers our employees to take ownership in keeping our facilities safe. Since the start of the program our calls for service have more than doubled.”

For example, before Corsaro and Wise came on board, the workplace violence prevention programs were lax at best. Both men have rewritten policies, and helped create a culture where people feel comfortable reporting security concerns.

“In order to be pro-active we must be transparent by sharing current intelligence and information with our employee population. If nobody knows about thefts on our property, they’re not going to watch for it or change their own practices to avoid becoming a victim,” Corsaro says.

Another area where Corsaro and Wise have made progress is with NGMS employees feeling comfortable with security’s role. “You can never forget the human factor,” Corsaro adds. “All of this technology is not going to work unless you teach people to use it and trust it. As far as the hospital employees feeling safe, I am confident we’ve done our job. We just completed the first employee opinion survey since changes were implemented, and our numbers regarding how safe employees feel at work have increased dramatically. People unquestionably feel much safer coming to work here.”


The Human Factor

Getting people to report events to security is also a challenge for David Whittaker, director of ESD/Security for Norton Brownsboro Hospital (NBH) in Louisville, Ky. “That’s why I wanted a security system that was easy to use,” he says. “It also needed to accommodate our growth. Our stakeholders wouldn’t expect any less of something that didn’t provide a secure hospital, and neither would I.”

NBH is a new 127-bed facility in the Norton Healthcare System (NHS), which is comprised of five large hospitals, 12 immediate care centers and more than 90 physician practices in the Louisville area. The Brownsboro hospital is two years old and completely finished, having just added a helipad.

Next to ease of use for employees and his security team, Whittaker’s next biggest request with the new facility’s security system was that it would integrate video, access control and ID management with a nearby children’s medical center, as well as another hospital in the Norton Healthcare system located in downtown Louisville.

The Brownsboro hospital’s security system includes 20 IP cameras (domes, PTZ indoor/outdoor) and 35 smart card readers, from Honeywell, in addition to access control, a video management system and a visitor management system.

A downtown Louisville hospital has 150 new card readers with plans to upgrade to IP cameras later this year. A cancer institute that is scheduled to open in July 2011 will include 20 IP cameras and 20 card readers. Soon, all Norton Healthcare facilities will  be integrated with Brownsboro, allowing physician access to all Norton Healthcare facilities with only one ID card.

The only non-technical part of security for the Brownsville facility is a lack of visitor passes. Visitors are required to sign in, of course, but you won’t see a visitor wearing a badge, at least not yet. “You can get in, but you can’t get very far without a badge,” Whittaker stresses. “I don’t see that aspect as a negative.” The proof is the lack of security incidents: in the last 16 months, there has been only one incident of a minor theft.

Says Whittaker: “My goal for this facility was for the security system to be easy to use and manageable and for the focus to be on the patients and faculty. I also wanted a system that could accommodate upgrades and growth, yet still stay true to who we are, which is a smaller community hospital. I think that we’ve accomplished that.”

That reflection of a community in which it lies is also true with St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, which is a 473-bed community teaching and referral facility with a Level II trauma center, in addition to a 76-bed inpatient psychiatric facility in Westport.


A Microcosm of Society

“Our hospital is microcosm of the society and the community in which we live. Hospital security is a very complex operation because we reflect what’s out there in our community. From a crime standpoint, what happens in the community has the capability of coming to your door step. And you are open 24 hours a day to the public. Risk assessment and having solid security measures in place is the key to managing those risks,” says Joe Laveneziana. 

“We serve 350,000 people in our city and the surrounding suburbs. We’re here for our patients with quality patient care, but we’re also supporting them with a secure environment,” he adds.

St. Vincent’s lies in the heart of Bridgeport and its physical surroundings extend to several city-owned blocks. Its services reach several off campus facilities. The security department, led by Laveneziana, responds to security incidents within the medical center and off campus. The department is responsible for regulatory compliance, emergency management and response and environmental compliance. The “ante” has been upped recently, since St. Vincent’s is becoming an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program facility, where the facility will be recognized as being one that has implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintained injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries.

Even more, since St. Vincent’s security also services St. Vincent’s College, a healthcare commuter institution located on the hospital campus, Laveneziana has to comply with the Jeanne Clery Act - Campus Security Act.

“Our job is to show a cost-effective security operation with maximum efficiencies and technology that augments our security staff,” Laveneziana says. “We look at the risk assessment, have technologies in place and can demonstrate security’s value.”

Technology, including IP cameras and a video management system, is supplementing security’s role, which includes 60 security officers, some of whom service off site locations.

“We were already strong from a technical standpoint, but we wanted to create a stronger security program that incorporated card access and IP video,” Laveneziana says. He and his staff recently implemented a video management system from Verint that is allowing him to assess risks better and provide a more consistent monitoring of activities within the hospital, in its new Elizabeth Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care and outside on city streets.

“There are 150 cameras on our campus, and we can’t monitor all of them simultaneously, but we can augment utilization with our security staff,” Laveneziana says. “Cameras utilizing alarm access points help us evaluate possible exposures and mitigate our risks.”

In collaboration with the city of Bridgeport Police Department, the next project is to tie the facility’s camera system into the police department’s system. “We’re located on the busiest intersection in the city,” Laveneziana says. “The city’s goal is to have the capability to tap into our server and use the city’s incident command center technology to manage safety risks outside of our facility grounds when deemed appropriate.” The project will include megapixel cameras and will be funded in part by a grant from the Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (DEMHS).


Saving Taxpayer Dollars

Similar to a healthcare facility, a government building is an open environment to the public but with more limited hours – and with that comes accountability for security and careful spending of taxpayer dollars.

It's a tricky situation, as many government buildings are working with legacy security systems. Yet, it's necessary, especially after a recent wave of attacks at federal facilities across the country, including a shooting at the Pentagon, an attack at an IRS building and a shooting at a Las Vegas federal courthouse. A GAO investigation last year exposed serious security gaps at 10 major federal buildings. GAO investigators smuggled bomb-making materials into the buildings while photos and video showed private contract guards asleep at their posts and a young child passing through an X-ray machine in a baby carrier.

Experience has taught the State of Mississippi that access control technology is important in its securing government buildings. Integration with an older system also helped state officials to save money for its constituents.

After years of ongoing access control system glitches in several Jackson, Miss., government buildings, the state moved from a disparate infrastructure to a single source provider. By making the move, Mississippi avoided upgrade costs of more than $333,000, has greater in-house control over resolving maintenance problems and consolidated three building access control servers into one. The project required a joint effort by the Department of Finance & Administration’s Office of Information Technology, the Capitol Police and Capitol Facilities and access control provider, Matrix Systems.

Several government buildings were quickly converted to an enterprise-based access control software – 512 doors online in only four days. 

The new access control system allowed for the reuse and integration of most existing equipment at a cost of $50,000 and a savings of more than $333,000 in the upgrade.

The state’s savings resulted from:

•  $60,000: reusing and integrating 512 card readers;

•  $256,000: reusing and integrating 256 two-door sub-controllers;

•  $17,000: upgrading with controller boards that were 50-percent less


While the cost savings were vital to the project’s success, improving system reliability was important. “We had a high level of dissatisfaction with the former access control providers in terms of customer service,” says Arthur Bridges, director of information technology at the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). The DFA is responsible for the security of the 21 buildings within the state’s Capitol Complex.     

Another issue was uniformity. Even though access control was under the same brand, three separate systems had evolved over 10 years of bringing additional buildings online. Some other systems had their own proprietary operating methods, which resulted in intercommunication challenges among the three systems.

One example was each system’s fail-over, which rarely operated correctly, according to Bridges. If a system’s server went down, access control became inoperable because of fail-over issues to the back-up server. 

Now, three systems are combined into one, and operate under one database with the existing server and fail-over back-up server, manufactured by IBM.  

Future improvements include upgrading the system with biometric fingerprint readers and cyber lock equipment.


Security Within Reach

On its web site that touts its beautiful campus, small classes, dedicated faculty and all the opportunities of New York City within easy reach, “Public Safety at Hofstra” is clearly marked and easily accessible.

In cooperation with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and other federal laws, Hofstra University makes available an annual security and fire safety report that includes campus crime and fire safety statistics. Hofstra is the largest private college on Long Island, N.Y., with 115 buildings, 220 acres and 12,000 students, and security must cater to its very important constituents of students, parents, faculty and staff. These days, college students and their families are not only picking a college based on a degree program and quality of education, but safety and security as well.

Managing risk from the outside in is key for the University’s Department of Public Safety.

“It’s not easy to provide a safe and secure environment for this community in an open and free environment,” Mercedes Ravelo, senior assistant director for Hofstra’s Department of Public Safety, tells Securitymagazine. “We educate our students, but we have also rely on parents to talk to their students about following good safety practices in general and being safe on campus, for example, by not participating in risky behaviors, and being aware and informed about what is happening in their campus community.”

Hofstra's Department of Public Safety  department includes a director, four administrative directors, a supervisory staff of eight and 38 full time and 19 part time officers. In addition, the Department of Public Safety regularly employs about 350 students as resident safety representatives (RSR). They are stationed in a security booth at each residence hall and are responsible for monitoring the entrances to ensure that unauthorized persons do not enter them.

Additional security systems in place at Hofstra are card access systems at residence halls, certain classrooms and commuter labs; security video; emergency telephones located throughout the campus; and a Campus Alert Notification Network (CANN), a notification network used to disseminate emergency information to the campus community in the event of an emergency. In an emergency, Hofstra also alerts its students and staff through a text and/or voice message, email alerts, a campus alert hotline, a television service, radio station and a public address system.

Most of the students live off campus, and access to residence halls is limited to resident students and their guests. Students must carry a Hofstra University ID (HofstraCard) and must swipe their card in a card reader in order to enter their residence hall. Students who live on campus and are visiting another residence hall on campus must surrender their HofstraCard and be signed in by the RSR before they can enter the building. Anyone who does not live on campus, including commuter students, must surrender their valid photo ID, sign in with the RSR and must be announced to his/her host.

Despite use of the RSRs and the ID cards, tailgating was common, especially with large groups, and the RSR’s would have to confront and intervene and at times, those individuals would be uncooperative, Ravelo says. It was one area of the campus where Ravela says that security was challenged.

The technology solution has included full height turnstiles with the existing card swipe access control to control and monitor the access of students and guests into residential halls and compounds. Students swipe their HofstraCard ID and pass through a turnstile from Boon Edam, one at a time. “Using the turnstiles ensures that students or guests cannot jump or crawl through to the secure side,” Ravelo says. Handicapped students enter using their HofstraCard ID and an automatic emergency exit door, under the supervision of the RSR.

For entrances in central buildings on complexes, Hofstra uses a transparent turnstile to create a security entrance with an aesthetic, open appearance. 

“Having these turnstiles at our entrances makes it much easier for our RSR’s: now they can focus on processing guests and other duties. They really appreciate the greater control and the parents feel more comfortable knowing their children are safer,” Ravelo says.   

Lessons Learned

In the course of their experiences with using technology to secure their facilities, some security leaders share what they have learned.

Andrew Corsaro, director of security, Northeast Georgia Medical Center: “You can never forget the human factors. All of this technology is not going to work unless you teach people to use it and trust it. As far as the hospital employees feeling safe, I am confident we’ve done our job. We just completed the first employee opinion survey since changes were implemented, and our numbers regarding how safe employees feel at work have increased dramatically. People unquestionably feel much safer coming to work here.”

David Whittaker, director of ESD/Security for Norton Brownsboro Hospital: “Getting people to report events to security is a challenge. That’s why I wanted a security system that was easy to use.”

Mercedes Ravelo, senior assistant director for Hofstra’s Department of Public Safety: “We educate our students, but we also rely on parents to talk to their students about following good safety practices in general and being safe on campus, for example, by not participating in risky behaviors, and being aware and informed about what is happening in their campus community.”


Meet the Facilities

Securitymagazine interviewed five security executives at five different facilities to share with you how they are meeting their constituent's needs and securing their facilities.

NortheastGeorgia Medical Centerin Gainesville, Ga. is a Joint Commission accredited hospital that was named one of the country’s 100 Top Hospitals for 2009 by Thomson Reuters. Led by volunteer boards made up of community leaders, the 557-inpatient, 261-skilled nursing bed health system serves almost 700,000 people in more than 13 counties across Northeast Georgia. 

Norton Brownsboro Hospital (NBH)is a 127-bed facility in Louisville, Ky. and is part of the Norton Healthcare System (NHS), which is comprised of five large hospitals, 11 immediate care centers and more than 60 physician practices in Louisville.

St. Vincent’s Medical Centerin Bridgeport, CT is a 473-bed community teaching and referral hospital with a Level II trauma center and a 76-bed inpatient psychiatric facility in Westport. St. Vincent’s provides inpatient and outpatient services with regional centers of excellence in cardiology, surgery, cancer care, orthopedics, diagnostics, women’s and family services, behavioral health, senior health and specialized services. Its newest facility is the Elizabeth Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care.

The state of Mississippi’s Department of Finance & Administrationoversees an access control system of 512 doors spread throughout 21 buildings in its capitol city of Jackson that serves the state’s three million constituents. 

HofstraUniversityis the largest private college on Long Island, NY, with schools in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Business, Law, Communication and Education. There are 1,185 faculty members, 7,631 full-time undergraduates enrollment, and a total of approximately 12,400 students overall, which includes part-time undergraduates, graduates and law students.