Page 92 - Security Today, September/October 2021
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Migrating Access Control with Intuitive Tools and Support at Hand
Achieving better situational awareness and response efficiency did not happen overnight for UCalgary. The team took a phased approach, which allowed them to upgrade one system at a time and keep expanding as budgets are renewed.
“Our main goal was to identify standards for our security installa- tions and then grow and apply those standards across our campuses. The scalability and openness of the platform were hugely advantageous in that regard,” Gysen said. “We could choose technology from many different manufacturers and upgrade our systems at our own pace.”
Taking a phased approach was also particularly helpful during the access control migration. Moving access control data from multiple disparate systems onto a new platform can be a daunting task. UCal- gary began with a pilot project of 80 doors. Throughout the process, the team was put at ease with the hands-on support they received from Delco Security and Genetec.
“We had some concerns about how we were going to manage access control data as we transitioned from old legacy systems to Security Center, but entire integration were extremely supportive throughout the process,” said Satnam Dhanda, campus security elec- tronic systems specialist at the UCalgary. “We had access to the import tool which helped ease that initial data transfer. This allowed us to upload batches of cardholder data into the new platform using CSV files. And now, we’re working towards implementing the Secu- rity Center Active Directory integration which will streamline our processes moving forward.”
Today, UCalgary has more than 85 buildings completed and are just about halfway through the access control migration. The team also took advantage of the Synergis Cloud Link to keep costs down and further expedite the access control migration. This intelligent gateway appliance offers native support for non-proprietary access control hardware. This meant the university could keep existing access control wiring and readers, and minimize hardware and labor costs. Currently, UCalgary has more than 45,000 cardholders, which include students, faculty, administrative staff and contractors. Using the Synergis system, the team can now secure access control rights, manage all cardholder privileges, and customize door rules and schedules from one platform. They can also quickly deactivate card- holder credentials across all sites and pull detailed reports to support compliance mandates.
“This allowed us to get very granular with customizing door rules and schedules, which helps our team, be more responsive to the needs of specific faculties and departments. During the pandemic, for example, our kinesiology department and medical school required some unique exception rules to restrict building access,” said Brian Whitelaw, chief of campus security. “Our School of Architecture and Design also has a downtown location that has to be open to students but closed to the general public. We were able to accommodate those business requirements using Security Center.”
Boosting Operational Efficiencies with Video Analytics and Intercom
Another key aspect of the security upgrade at UCalgary was adding video analytics and intercom. The team began by replacing old analog help phones with new SIP-based video intercom stations from Axis Communications. These devices enhanced video coverage around the main entrance buildings and offered easy two-way communication with SOC operators, at the press of a button.
“Having these new video intercom devices unified within the Genetec platform has given us a much better understanding of our environment. When we had the old help phones, we always relied on a person’s ability to describe where they were and what was going on. With the video intercoms, we can see exactly where they are, pull up
nearby cameras, and see what’s happening, all while keeping the dia- logue with them going,” Gysen said.
Investigations have also gotten a boost since deploying BriefCam ana- lytics within Security Center. Various analytics such as object removed or left behind, direction, dwell time, and crossline detection can all be used to speed up searches when an incident occurs on campus.
“We use the BriefCam analytics much more for investigation pur- poses. Whether its theft or another event, there are cases where some- thing might happen after hours on a Friday, and it’s only reported on Monday morning. Rather than having to search through three days’ worth of footage, we can use the analytics to find what we’re looking for much faster,” Dhanda said.
“We’re also able to narrow down our searches using criteria such as gender, adult versus child, and predominant colors of an item, so there’s a lot of flexibility. This can be particularly valuable if ever we run into a case where someone has gone missing or for other more urgent investigations,” Gyson said.
Streamlining Parking Enforcement with AutoVu Free-Flow
Using Security Center, UCalgary has also streamlined parking at the main campus. In the past, parking attendants would sit at a lot entrance, collect payment, and issue physical parking permits to driv- ers. The parking team at the university has since done away with all that using AutoVu Free-Flow, a module of the Security Center Aut- oVuTM automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) system.
“We have installed ALPR cameras at the entrance of three lots. Students or guests can now drive into the lot and pay for their time at a pay-by-plate kiosk. If the driver goes over the allotted time, our parking team will receive an alert within Security Center indicating the vehicle is in violation. Again, this is another situation where we’re able to maximize our team’s efficiency,” Dhanda said.
Since the ALPR system is a core component of Security Center, the security team can also access the ALPR data during investigations. In the future, they are considering adding more ALPR cameras on campus roadways to better track vehicles of interest and further enhance security.
Investing in a Unified Security Platform that Evolves
UCalgary has many other plans for continued expansion on the hori- zon. First, the team wants to finish upgrading and standardizing all their access control, video surveillance, intrusion, and intercom sys- tems within the Genetec platform. The security team is also in the process of setting up Genetec Mission ControlTM, the collaborative decision management system. When an incident occurs, this system will automatically guide operators through response protocols, so they can confidently handle any situation.
“We had seen another university using a Physical Security Infor- mation Management (PSIM) system, but the cost to implement that solution was well beyond our budget. Built into the Security Center platform, Mission Control gives us the same efficiency-boosting functionality at a fraction of the cost. Using Mission Control, we can reduce the sensory overload for our operators and help them focus on the most urgent situations,” Gysen said.
“Right now, we think this is a very exciting time to be standardiz- ing. Technology is evolving at such a fast pace, and we now have the foundation to be able to accommodate new innovation,” Gysen said. “We also have so much flexibility in how we can adapt and expand our security platform. We are free to keep evolving our security ini- tiatives to protect our campus community. A testament to our success is hearing from students themselves about how the security technol- ogy enhances their feeling of safety on campus,” Gysen said.
Marc-Andre Bergeron is the director of sales for Canada, at Genetec.
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