More is never less when it comes to enhancing an enterprise security access control system with features that complement both security and business goals. For Kenneth Cadenhead, his access gain includes sustainability of his facility. Josh Ennis needed “more” to overcome a default to a key and lock solution because of a legacy access control system that was lacking. And for Eric Mullen, enhanced access control enabled “us to take on much more meaningful work that more directly serves our constituents.” The business bottom line is clear: There is more that can be squeezed from electronic access control than just opening a door.
Cadenhead, director of facilities at Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, had the luxury of a new construction project, which involved installation of integrated systems specifically designed to match the architecture of the facility and accommodate the complex exhibit structure. The aim was for building owners to strip away layers of complexity by integrating multiple systems to achieve enterprise-wide facilities management. This uses less energy, tightens security, speeds response timesa and maintains optimal environments for occupants, saving up to 36 percent, in the case of the museum, on operating costs over time.
Total Building Controls
The project included installation of entirely integrated control and security systems throughout the architecturally compelling six-floor facility, which was specifically designed around the complex exhibit structure. The customized system design will enable the museum to perform at maximum efficiency and sustain its educational mission for patrons for years to come.
The solution also has remote capability, so it can be monitored and managed from anywhere. Additionally through the unique installation process, the systems team navigated 20-foot high ceilings and low light conditions with careful consideration for the museum’s design and exhibit layout.
Points out Cadenhead, “When running a nonprofit organization, efficiency is extremely important to our sustainability. The savings we’ll earn from this project will ensure we are able to invest properly in educational programs and exhibits, giving our patrons the best possible experience at the Perot Museum.”
Less than eight months since its Dec. 1, 2012 debut to the general public, the Perot Museum topped the one million mark in visitors coming through the doors, a milestone reached much earlier than museum officials anticipated.
Cadenhead says he believes that the design of the overall system has numerous advantages. “It all fits within our mission to be a green building. On the operational side, there also is operator ease of use with one computer and a common workstation where different building groups have their own different views” for video management, security and access in addition to building controls and energy management.
An Educational Effort
The system is also part of the museum’s educational program. “It shows how the building operates and how it saves energy as well as shows solar energy and rainwater collection. The building itself is an exhibit,” says Cadenhead.
Security is mostly behind the scenes. There is card access on doors and parking gates for staff and visitor management of staff visitors integrated into the system. And wireless is integrated into the infrastructure to cover temporary exhibits.
In another “more is better” example, “Our old system was failing miserably,” says Ennis, network administrator at Hilton Central School District, a PreK-12 public school system in Monroe County northwest of Rochester, New York. “We could live-view a few cameras, but they only had about three hours of archive retention; no one knew how to retrieve the video, and coverage was scarce. So the likelihood of a camera actually capturing an event was slim.” Access control was not any better; cards were not being issued or used, so they relied on simple locks and keys to control physical access.
So when its 10-year-old analog cameras, DVRs and disparate access control system were no longer able to help, the district turned to the latest IP security technology. Making a switch, Hilton Central began with video surveillance, re-using functional analog cameras with the help of encoders and accessing additional funds through a New York state aid program to complete an initial rollout of more than 200 cameras. By the next year, they added another 250 cameras, swapped out old equipment for IP cameras, and began the access control installation with just more than 10 doors. Today, its access control system controls 35 doors equipped with card readers.
Handling Net Traffic
Adds Ennis, “We are using multicasting everywhere to keep network traffic down, and the health monitoring feature has been very valuable to me. I have that tab open all the time on my desktop, because it gives me a snapshot of what’s going on with my system on the backend, at any given time.”
The flexibility of third-party integration with systems like Hilton’s intercom has also made it simple for staff to greet visitors at the door, verifying credentials and prompting automatic door opening once vetted.
In Michigan, Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) had a problem that significantly impacted its business operations and hindered its ability to deliver quality student services.
With more than 5,000 students commuting every day, regulating access and accepting payment for parking facilities had become an enormous chore for school employees. Without an existing campus card in place, managing cash acceptance for any purchase on campus consumed staff members’ time and constricted the campus ability to provide a positive experience to students.
The solution was a multifunctional ID card – the RaiderCard program. “Each year, we were selling $1.2 million worth of 75-cent parking tokens, which was arcane,” says Mullen, the college’s director of student life. So it was not surprising that parking and cash acceptance were top priorities in a more sophisticated photo ID to help eliminate its then student authentication process, which was entirely manual.
A Phased Approach
While accepting payment for parking created challenges, overall cash handling was beginning to weigh heavily on the campus, especially in areas such as food service operations,the library, copy machines and bookstore.
More basically, “a main issue was controlling who had access to doors on campus over the weekends and off hours,” explains RaiderCard Manager Paulo Teles.
So GRCC took a phased approach. In the first phase of its implementation, it deployed technology to manage its parking problem. Using readers designed to work in a vending environment, students simply swipe their card to enter any of the seven campus garages and then swipe once again to exit the garage. Upon exit, their RaiderCard account is charged the daily rate. Using an anti-passback feature, each card can be used to enter the garage a single time; and, to avoid fraud, the card must be used to exit the garage before it can be used again to enter.
Phase two of the college’s implementation included deploying point-of-sale devices for dining services and at a couple of quick-serve restaurants on campus. “The positive impact was faster lines and increased sales,” Teles says. “We went from accepting only cash to a cashless environment.” A Subway sandwich shop on campus saw a 15-20 percent increase in sales once it began accepting the RaiderCard.
The next phase included door access and vending. With campus safety as a driving factor, the college installed approximately 55 door access readers, including two exterior doors per building to help regulate traffic. Vending was the final focus of deployment, and Grand Rapids targeted most of the approximately 120 vending machines on campus to accept the RaiderCard. Machines were prioritized based on sales volume.
“Students expect to see technology on campus like the type of technology they have available everywhere else in the world. Serving students through technology helps validate the institution in their eyes,” concludes Mullen.