Revamped Public Housing Neighborhood Installs Access Control System
When the Seattle Housing Authority redeveloped the High Point public housing neighborhood in Seattle, they had the opportunity to create a new vision for a community that combines both ecological and social goals. Based on neighborhood diversity as the natural condition of a thriving community, the 120-acre neighborhood is home to residents of varied economic, ethnic, and social backgrounds. From land development through construction, High Point is built green with environmentally sustainable design practices implemented both inside residences and throughout the site.
Within this award winning community, Neighborhood House, a 105-year-old nonprofit agency, built a new facility to house a broad set of social services for residents of the area. The end result: a 20,000-square-foot state of the art building designed to meet LEED gold certification. It is not only home to a multitude of community services, it also serves as an environmental education center with innovative technologies including a ground source heat pump, recycled building materials, and the largest solar panel array in western Washington.
On any given day, the Neighborhood House High Point Center is a hub of activity with preschool classes, family center activities, youth programs, English language classes, job training, adult education, and many other services. It also houses the local homeowners’ association office, the community builder’s office, open space association office, as well as the neighborhood management offices. The building provides a home to case workers, teachers, volunteers and educators, while offering local residents a place to hold meetings and other large events.
A reliable and economical security system was needed to effectively manage the multi-purpose High Point facility. Flexibility was critical to maximize the potential use of space without having to alter hardware; scalability would allow for a unified system to run multiple sites across the region. Through a partnership with Salto and Robblee Total Security, Neighborhood House was able to find a system that supplied all these requirements and more.
The Salto Access Control system installed by Robblee’s Total Security of Tacoma, Wash., provided Neighborhood House with the balance between cost and control. Its use of a “viral” distributive intelligence allows for all the benefits of a wired access control system without the need of hardwire and power to each lock.
With the current system, community residents and partner agencies can use the facility for up to 18 hours a day through timed access control and audit trails. In conjunction with a floor plan that kept that idea in mind, the access controls allow users to check out specific spaces for a specific duration of time without having supervising staff on site to oversee the facility. Should the need arise due to damage or other events, audit trails monitor who comes and goes into each room to appropriately ascertain responsibility.
The system also allows for quick adaptation to evolving facility usage. With new programs and shifting community needs — the agency needed a system that would be highly fluid, and the Salto system forgoes the hassles of a traditional key system. Keys cards are easily tracked and replaced and Neighborhood House no longer has to worry about changing key cores or having master keys in the wrong hands. The system utilizes key fobs which can be imbedded in stickers and even watches. Neighborhood House incorporated the key fobs into its ID badge system, providing another level of security to the site.
The system also scales well. With seven sites and more than 200 employees, Neighborhood House needed a system to grow with its services. Currently, the organization is testing the product across multiple sites, using the same key card for access control, but with two separate sites and one database. The flexibility to use one card to open all doors across the organization is an exciting proposition which Neighborhood House hopes to take advantage of in the near future.
Dedicated power requirements and the need for special wiring are eliminated with the system, providing additional value. The Virtual Network alleviates the need to network all the doors yet still provides audit controls and regular updates to the central database. The database is robust, and user friendly — to the point where an organization with limited IT support was able to quickly understand, setup, initiate, program and understand the functionality of the product with minimal training. The locks themselves offer a series of modes to match the different usage types in the building: classroom, office, storage, main entry, restroom and others.
Neighborhood House is one of the oldest human service agencies in the Puget Sound region with a mission to help diverse communities of people with limited resources attain their goals for self-sufficiency, financial independence, health and community building. With the help of Robblee’s Total Security and Salto; Neighborhood House now has a state of the art security system for its newest home, and an opportunity to help other residents, non-profit organizations, and the community utilize its latest gem.
The facility now has a state of the art security system for its newest home, and an opportunity to help other residents, non-profit organizations, and the community to utilize its latest gem.
Tony Kuo is the facilities manager for Neigborhood House.
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