Open that Platform

A centralized system is important to university sta to stay ahead of the curve

Missouri University of Science & Technology (Missouri S&T) sits on 284 acres between Springfield MO., and St. Louis in the city of Rolla, MO. Missouri S&T was founded in 1870 as one of the first technological institutions west of the Mississippi.

More than 8,000 students attend the university, which offers degree programs in engineering, computer science, business and management systems, information science and technology, sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts.

Updating the Buildings
As Missouri S&T has grown, so has the demand for new facilities and updated buildings, which necessitated additional security solutions. The university was using a number of diff erent platforms to control access to various buildings that made up the main campus of the university, as well as a physical lock-and-key system that posed a problem with oversight and management.

With 35 buildings and numerous residence halls to manage, Missouri S&T sought to automate various systems through a centralized access control platform.

“When every key issued isn’t returned, you don’t know who has access. This can create significant risk to an organization,” said Fred Stone, director of Design and Construction Management at Missouri S&T. “Additionally, we had a strong need for automation. Granting access and making decisions based on existing data sources required a platform that was flexible and could conform to our own customized business processes.”

University staff wanted the ability to incorporate data into its human resources, student management, course enrollment and event management system. For example, only students and relevant staff would have access to student dormitories after hours.

S&T staff wanted a system that allowed access and excluded access based on access need and security.

“Before the updates to our system, if someone wanted to give a large group of students’ access to a space for an extended period of time or after hours, we’d have to issue a key,” Stone said. “We got into a situation where spaces would be unlocked for extended periods and pose a potential security risk. We needed a system that could help address these challenges.”

Streamline Access Control
Missouri S&T tested three diff erent platforms in a pilot program to determine which system would address the challenges identified and help streamline access control across the university. Staff determined that two of the three solutions were not a match for the university, and RS2 Technologies emerged as the top choice.

In fact, the other systems required an additional investment to integrate the data systems that the university identified as being a critical part of the solution.

“Having the ability to launch a new access control program, creating business processes and working directly with RS2 to get this done was invaluable to our team,” Stone said. “RS2 was able to make all of the modifications requested without having to funnel through a third party.”

S&T staff wanted to select an access control platform that would allow multiple university leaders to access data.

“We didn’t want to be the only ones with the ability to generate reports, grant and restrict access and perform other day-to-day tasks,” Stone said. Missouri S&T installed the RS2 Technologies Access It!® Universal.NET access management solution, which provides the university with the ability to integrate third-party devices, such as DVRs, NVRs, video surveillance technology, intercom, intrusion detection and visitor management systems.

RS2 Technologies has constructed an integrated family of access management software and hardware that can be configured to provide a cost-effective solution for very small to very large systems. Missouri S&T needed to grant access to multiple staff , including 88 users across campus. This widespread access helps the department save time and resources for high-level issues.

Using Existing Wireless
The university also wanted the ability to use its existing wireless and point of entry (POE) access control readers and controllers from ASSA ABLOY. RS2’s system provided a close integration with the readers, as well as panels from open platform manufacturer Mercury Security.

“The ability to integrate our existing technology gave us flexibility to make adjustments as needed without replacing the entire system across campus, which would be cost-prohibitive,” Stone said.

Additionally, the RS2 system needed to work seamlessly with the university’s surveillance system from Avigilon, which allows operators to associate cameras with specific doors and pull reports on events using a specific date/time.

“Without that piece of the puzzle, we would have to go to a different software, select the camera and video and the date and time, which would be a manual and work-intensive process,” Stone said. “The integration between the systems saves time and resources when there’s an incident to look into.”

Missouri S&T installed the RS2 technology that is now used across campus, including 35 academic buildings and major residence halls. “With centralized access control, we can grant and restrict access over time as we need to, using integrated data systems that allow us to keep track of access across the university from a single platform,” Stone said.

Bringing it all Together
The solution is intertwined with student housing software, the university’s laboratory safety training database and the campus police department dispatch center.

“It’s critical for our police department to be in the loop on incidents that arise,” said Stone. “The RS2 system is also tied to the centralized camera monitoring system to provide the police department with real-time situational awareness.”

Dispatchers in the police department can monitor alarms in the system. They have a graphical map function that allows them to locate areas on campus in real time with video feeds. The department also has a console in its operations center that allows operators to unlock, lock or lock down any door within the RS2 system in the event of an emergency.

The system is also integrated with the student database. This includes photos of all cardholders and additional information for university police in the event of an incident. “We wanted to ensure that our officers had the tools they needed for effective oversight of facilities on campus to protect visitors, faculty, staff and students,” Stone said.

Meeting Campus Needs
Missouri S&T continues to work with RS2 to ensure the system is meeting university needs. “I reached out to RS2 to integrate the system with our event management software, and the team worked with us to find a way to make this possible,” Stone said. The RS2 team used an integration from Detrios called DAX that allows for interoperability between the access control software and the event management platform that saves users from manually inputting entries to control door open and close schedules.

“We’ve been able to have an open dialogue with university leaders, which has helped develop new relationships like the one we have with Detrios, as well as nurture the existing partnerships we have in place,” said Jeff Bransfield, national sales manager, RS2 Technologies. “Missouri S&T was first campus to integrate Detrios, and the work done there has opened up a number of other opportunities for us that we didn’t have prior to this project.”

Working with RS2 has also been a positive experience for the facilities department: Stone said the tech support has been a huge help in the successful partnership and a peace of mind.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2021 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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    March / April 2021

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