Security Solution Saves Money

Security Solution Saves Money

Streamlining operations may help the human condition

An independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition boasts many accomplishments in the areas of health, energy, workforce development, environmental sciences and social policies. It is also highly involved in research projects that help communities or local governments in foreign countries.

The employees work on highly-sensitive projects that require strict security. The headquarter campus and 11 field offices throughout the United States used two different legacy security systems. The headquarter location system did not have the capacity to meet their growing needs; they were rebooting the system three times per week to keep it running, the holiday scheduling did not operate correctly and keeping cards loaded in the access control panels was a challenge. The other U.S. office locations were using a hosted physical access control system, which lead to exorbitant operational and maintenance fees at these locations.

When it came to upgrading these legacy systems, the global security manager and the systems administrator conducted their own research and discovered AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Access Control system.

The Global Security Operations Center (GSOC), located at the company headquarters, is the point of contact for threats and global travel incidents, and the central hub where all security is managed: access control, video, mass notification, License Plate Recognition (LRP) and Long-Range Vehicle Credential readers. As the research institute acquires new businesses and offices, they convert the existing system to Symmetry, and monitor the new offices within the GSOC.

Super User Status

The institute’s forward-thinking security team researches its own systems and finds creative solutions to solve its security challenges. For example, the system administrator created a button within the system that locks down the campus. Tapping into the card plus PIN mode feature in Symmetry using an HID reader without a keypad, doors would only open for security officers and emergency responders if the system administrator enabled executive card mode on their card holder record.

If there is an active shooter or emergency, they can lock down building by building. With one click they can shut down all of campus and keep a shooter out or try to slow him down.

More than an access control system, the system is used to troubleshoot door hardware when door-forced and door-held open alarms occur. By proactively managing Symmetry, they reduced the number of unnecessary alarms received and streamlined their security processes.

They have reduced the number of alarms coming in to the point where their officers trust the information and alarms they are getting and send patrol officers to any location that might have a door problem or a break in. All alarms mean something and need escalation.

Years ago after some potentially dangerous employees and contractors were terminated, the institute deployed a stand-alone License Plate Recognition (LPR) and Long Range Vehicle Access Credential system to monitor incoming traffic. The LPR cameras capture the license plate images and compare it to what is in the database. An alert sounds and an email sent to designated employees when a person of interest has entered campus. The campus is set up so all vehicles have to drive by two LPRs to get on campus.

The LPR cameras have a greater than 90 percent chance of reading a license plate and the security team receives a notice when someone who should not be on campus has arrived.

The sensitive nature of their work requires strict access control measures to ensure that only authorized employees are allowed in sensitive areas. To achieve tight control, they use two-factor authentication, card plus PIN in critical areas such as data centers.

Looking Ahead

The research institute plans to integrate Symmetry with its video management system and LPR system with long range readers. An integrated system will provide a more complete security management system where everything works together to secure their properties, employees and intellectual property.

As more audit requirements are needed around access control, they will need to track who has been where and their processes surrounding that data. The risk of someone entering an unauthorized area is a great concern. While they have processes in place to manage compliance, they are looking into better ways to manage identities to automate processes and become more efficient. They are also in the planning stages of upgrading their system to SMART cards using OSDP compliant Symmetry Blue Bluetooth readers and Symmetry M4000 Intelligent Controllers.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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