Security From The Ground Up
Florida Atlantic University maintains security as the campus continues to grow
- By Jason Ouellette
- April 01, 2018
Florida Atlantic University (FAU), a leading research institution
with its own medical college and 180 degree programs,
is constantly growing and changing—and so its
security platform needs to keep up with managing the latest
developments on campus.
A UNIQUE CHALLENGE
FAU, one of 12 schools in the state’s university system, was constructed
at the former Boca Raton Army Air Field in 1964. The Boca Raton campus
encompasses dozens of buildings and houses about 4,000 of the
system’s 30,000 students. It also employs about 3,200 faculty and staff.
In the summer of 2016, FAU opened a new building as part of its
Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, providing the educational
institution with the opportunity to implement the C•CURE 9000
access control and security management system from the ground up.
The new facility, called Office Building 1, presented a unique challenge
to FAU, since the third floor houses research administration, while the
building’s first floor is an actual medical clinic.
According to Patrick Garmon, Director of Security Technology for
FAU, it was important to implement a system that enabled the university
to manage student access to the building by floor and by room, not
just restrict access to the building itself. To date, it has been the most
comprehensive access control project at the university, enabling the
university to partition building access based upon the clearance level
of a particular medical student or professor.
“Most of the buildings on our campus have exterior doors covered
by access control,” Garmon said. “We have now started to grow our
interior access control with our new College of Medicine building taking
the lead on that initiative.”
The new building is now part of a three building complex for The College of Medicine (The Biomedical Science
building, Office Building 1, and the Trauma
Simulation Center) but presented several
unique security challenges for FAU.
Though small in size, with 373 students,
The College of Medicine still required a
robust access control system with features
that enable partitioning and integration with
While all students get access to classrooms
and laboratories Monday through Friday,
residential doctors and faculty require
24-hour access to the building. The access
permission for students can also fluctuate,
such as prior to exams when students’ access
to laboratories needs to be limited, so The
College of Medicine needed to be able to easily
alter access privileges.
In addition, the school needed to ensure
proper security was in place at its medical
clinic, which also houses medicine that needs
to be kept under lock and key and properly
monitored at all times.
FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION
A comprehensive system, C•CURE 9000
security management platform offered FAU
advantages in time saving and flexibility.
“I can do anything I want with it,” said
Serge Fisher, Senior Electronic Technician,
Security Technology at FAU. “I’ve worked
with a lot of different access control systems.
With this program, once you know it, you
have almost unlimited options.”
One such option is the ability to let faculty
control classroom doors, rather than relying
on the security department to individually
program those doors. Using the intuitive
power of the access control system, a teacher
need only double swipe his or her access card
on a classroom door to open it when needed
and then double swipe it again to lock it. The
platform adds a layer of security because personnel
within the department can set an expiration
time for using the double swipe, so if a
faculty member forgets to lock a door he or
she opened, the access system will lock it
according to programmed information.
The flexible access system was especially
important at The College of Medicine giving
students different levels of access depending
on the school year calendar and if students
were taking examinations. The 24 card readers
around the building controlled by six
iSTAR panels also restrict access to medical
records rooms, the pharmacy, third-floor
research labs and other sensitive areas.
“It’s much easier to turn on and off cards
versus issuing one, two or three keys for each
student,” Garmon said.
FAU is experienced when it comes to harnessing
the power and versatility of the system.
It recently embarked on some key integrations,
including one linking panic buttons
and video, as well as enhancing necessary but
increasingly diverse day-to-day activities
such as locking and unlocking doors.
Within key areas on the Boca Raton campus,
which serves the majority of FAU’s student
body, there was an ongoing need to better
protect some areas designated as having
high potential for incidents such as the
cashier’s and parking offices, the front desks
within residence halls and the medical college’s
The university’s Schmidt Biomedical Science
building, also features an extensive C•CURE
9000 integration, covering all exterior entrances,
research labs, elevators leading to the animal
research floors and the anatomy labs.
The university’s public safety department
was also able to integrate about three dozen
Avigilon cameras with information from its
panic alarm system. If someone in one of the
high-risk areas triggers an alarm, the system
now immediately calls up the video from a
nearby camera that can be monitored at the
This not only allows University Police to
respond quickly to an incident, but it also
ensures that if it is a false alarm, no one has to
be dispatched to the site, saving time, money
Fisher, the Senior Electronic Technician,
Security Technology at FAU, sees potential to
integrate into C•CURE 9000 all of the system’s
nearly 2,000 cameras, which, like doors
in the access control system, can be mapped
for easy management within floor plans on
the platform. Currently there are about 85,000
users, including current students, faculty and
staff, and some students who have temporarily
taken time off from classes.
“There are so many tools offered through
C•CURE 9000,” said Luis Colon, Area Sales
Manager, Software House brand, for Johnson
Controls. “We’re excited to see how FAU is utilizing
them at the Boca Raton campus and will
roll them out to its other campuses over time.”
FAR REACHING SECURITY
FAU currently has C•CURE 9000 at each of
its six campuses, with varying levels of security
and integration. At its Harbor Branch
campus (HBOI), the university uses an RFID
reader to allow the faculty staff to fast pass
the Entry Gate with their parking permit.
The university’s research labs on its Jupiter
campus have increased security by requiring
two-factor authentication for certain sensitive
On the Boca Raton campus, The College of
Arts and Letters also has an adaptable system,
with information stored at the door so students
can more easily enter practice rooms. Before
C•CURE 9000 was installed, individual locks
were purchased and the information had to be
downloaded at each door, which was a cumbersome
process, explained Garmon, the
school’s Director of Security Technology.
The partitioning feature within the system
provides additional advantages, allowing for a
single database that can be partitioned to isolate
information by campus or between
departments, such as housing and academics.
Although he has yet to take advantage of it,
Fisher said the fully featured C•CURE Go
mobile application will put the power of the
system into his phone, allowing him to walk
up to door to change its status or add personnel
information, while also
monitoring C•CURE 9000
This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of CSLS.