Setting the Bar High with Access Control
Kemper Development Company (KDC) is a fourth-generation, family-owned real estate development company. What began as a 16-store shopping center nearly 75 years ago has become an internationally renowned hub of life and entertainment, work and leisure, relaxation and pleasure -- all at the epicenter of the city of Bellevue, one of the most sophisticated, fastest-growing markets in the U.S., known as The Bellevue Collection.
KDC’s properties include the upscale Bellevue Square shopping center, a Westin & W Hotel, a Hyatt Regency hotel, above and below ground parking structures, luxury apartments, condominiums, movie theaters, retail and restaurants and high-rise Class A office towers. The company employs more than 275 people and continues to grow.
“Because we have many sensitive areas that need to be secured, we primarily use our access control system for people and access management,” said Ian Kilpatrick, Physical Security Engineer, Kemper Development Company. “Data analytics that we get in reports generated from our access control platform help us run our business more effectively. It’s not just about security. Access management has become a core part of our ability to increase efficiency and strategize on better use of assets.”
Among the actions taken to drive benefits to the business are counting cars that enter and exit their parking garages every hour, making elevator access faster for people with privileged access rights, setting up alerts and alarm notifications, providing commercial business tenants with the capability for bulk adds and bulk removals of card holders, and analyzing the movement of people and things for a more proactive and preventative approach to building management.
KDC was seeking the right fit.
“We are a family-owned, family-run business that has been in the Bellevue community for more than seven decades, and we like to work with other companies that have the same kind of personal approach that we favor to build trust,” said Kilpatrick. “When we told Open Options all our aspirations and our particular challenges and even our goofy ideas to do things differently, they came alongside us and saw the possibilities with us, which we appreciated. Open Options has never told us ‘no.’ Whatever we want to do in access control, Open Options does. They find a way.”
Challenges with Proprietary Software and Hardware
In its first building, KDC had faced a challenge of having proprietary software and hardware for access control, strung together on a single communications cable all over the property. The electrical contractor who had set up this access control network with only two controllers at KDC’s Lincoln Square North multi-use property based his design on outdated practices. When the property started to grow rapidly with a high-rise office tower, a new hotel, numerous shops and stores, and more than 20 floors of luxury condos, the lack of a best practices-based approach to access control created major problems for KDC, increasing risk to the business. If one controller failed at any point, the whole system would go down.
In addition, the proprietary nature of the access control system limited KDC’s ability to integrate and scale. Being locked into a proprietary approach did not fit their business strategy to continue expanding, which meant taking over other properties over time with different access control and security products, especially open source hardware that would all need to be tied together by software.
“We knew that we needed to move to an open approach to access control, and there is no question that the KDC team wanted to work with experts in access control whom they could trust,” said Kilpatrick. “Our requirements for a partner in our endeavor to evolve our access management included non-proprietary hardware, a high level of tech support, an easy-to-use interface, alarm notifications, the ability to generate custom reports and integration with our elevator system that had its own set of complexities.”
With the need to upgrade the access control systems of their properties, KDC set the bar high. They needed to replace a mag stripe access control system on its second property and upgrade the antiquated access control system on the third property before tacking their fourth property, which is the busiest access controlled site of them all. “We wanted to work with an access control solutions provider that would connect with us and our needs, helping us take care of our business,” added Kilpatrick.
KDC turned to Open Options for the upgrade of all access control throughout all their properties. Most notably, Open Options enabled KDC to make the major shift from proprietary to a truly open and non-proprietary system. KDC utilizes DNA Fusion, managed from a redundant virtual solution in their data center. KDC depends on DNA Fusion for access control for everything, ranging from high-rise offices, retail space and luxury condominiums to parking garages and movie theaters. The company now has more than 50 SSP controllers and more than 350 sub-controllers, spanning across all its major properties.
“DNA Fusion is intuitive, simple and robust, and it has a Windows, non-proprietary-like feel that other access control providers can’t match,” said Kilpatrick. “You can do mostly everything from one desktop app and limit user capability through operator profiles. Configuration of the system is one of the best I have encountered. Adding onto the system is a breeze, and training a user to use it is simple.”
Because of the shift to an open approach to access control, it became easy for KDC to take over a site using Mercury Security hardware with Open Options software. This has aligned perfectly with expansion plans.
Beyond the features and functionality of the platform, what has made a significant difference in the customer experience is Open Options’ Technical Support.
“Ninety percent of why Open Options is the best choice for access control is their tech support,” said KDC’s Physical Security Engineer. “Open Options Tech Support is always there when I need them. After knowing them now for many years, I cannot say enough about them. I have not had a bad experience with Open Options Tech Support yet. They have been wonderful, willing to work with us in very close collaboration, which makes our lives easier.”
KDC has enjoyed the benefits of the Open Options’ Connect Care experience, connected directly to Tech Support for fast resolutions of challenges and issues. Connect Care represents the next level of customer care, bringing the “DNA” of Open Options’ customer-first culture into the everyday experience of customers like KDC through service and support. “To stay current, we also find value in the training that Open Options provides, as well as the software platform maintenance support that we believe is worth it,” he said.
Open Options also exceeded the customer’s expectations with the software integration work that they did for the integration of DNA Fusion with Thyssen Krupp Elevator’s Destination Dispatch Elevator System, the first deployment in the United States. Kelly Kilpatrick, the security systems technician at KDC, said, “The integration work that Open Options did with our Thyssen Krupp elevator system has both secured our Lincoln Square South Office Tower and provides expedited travel times to tenant floors with its easy-to-use graphical interface.”
Furthermore, KDC uses the OpenDX import tool of DNA Fusion, facilitating the bulk adds and bulk removals of card holders that their tenants need to do on an ongoing basis. OpenDX grabs the file that has been placed in the Public DNAShare folders and imports the card holders into the card holder database and assigns their access level. “This OpenDX functionality is a big time-saver for KDC and goes beyond the built-in DNAImport Tool by assigning access,” explained KDC’s security systems technician. More recently, when KDC put a new challenge in front of Open Options for a car counting report that simply did not exist, Open Options rose to the challenge through the capabilities of its Professional Services.
Although DNA Fusion has an extensive list of built-in reports, KDC’s management team wanted a report that would tally, on a per hour basis, how many cars enter and exit their facilities per day, per garage. A parking analytics dashboard would help with managing the high occupancy of cars in the parking structures, especially during the holidays. “We brought the idea of the custom car counting report to Open Options and amazingly, within a few days, we had the exact custom report functionality that we wanted to run. We were able to export the car counting report to a folder in DNA Fusion and have it automatically emailed to a distribution list for analysis and archiving,” said Kilpatrick.