Central Piedmont Community College’s Security Is Center of Attention
Long known for the magnitude of its academics and enrollment, North Carolina’s Central Piedmont Community College now lays claim to an equally remarkable security solution. Learn how the nation’s fourth-largest such school is creating a safer environment by centralizing control of video surveillance, access control and more across seven campuses.
Dealing With a Door Dilemma
CPCC’s first objective was to obtain nearly keyless control of exterior doors on all buildings on all campuses (infrequently used doors were passed over with plans to add them in future phases). Areas where core building functions are
managed, such as IT, mechanical and electrical, were also to be secured, with ID badges carried by security, facilities and IT staff.
Security 101 broke ground on the project in July 2011 and would achieve substantial completion by January 2012. Facing the challenges of installation while campus operations remained ongoing and also having to ensure connectivity among campus locations as far as 30 miles apart, the carefully coordinated job involved four full-time wirepullers running cable just ahead of the installers, building by building. Since the cabling process was faster than installing security devices, two crews consistently worked behind the wirepullers.
“We absolutely had scheduling issues,” says Alexander. “You can’t go drill on a door that’s right next to a classroom, or may need to go through that classroom, to get where you’re going from a cabling standpoint. We had to check in and check out keys, and also let security know where we were each day. With guys on ladders we always had safety issues. And being in an urban environment, we had to be careful where we left our equipment.”
Scheduling and logistics were not the only issues that had to be contended with during the CPCC job. The biggest nuisance was getting a wide range of door types and hardware as well as misaligned doors to accommodate electronic access control. This largely unforeseen predicament not only led to delays for the integrator but also increased costs for the end user.
“We found that a campus as old and large as ours has some physical features to the doors and buildings that cause issues,” says Dugan. “For example, doors didn’t shut correctly or they were spaced in a way that didn’t allow the electronics to work. There were delays and it was one of those things an IT shop wouldn’t anticipate. We had to work with our facilities department to get these doors repaired.”
It also came as an unwelcome surprise to discover how the campus’ varied door types — including single, double and sliding doors — required pursuing multiple vendors to repair or replace parts so as to meet electronic specifications. In some cases, older parts had to be tracked down. If not for the expertise of Security 101, whose services include locking door hardware installation that’s often relegated to locksmiths, progress might have come to a standstill.
“Aaron has a crew of guys who are very good with doors and very good with door repairs,” says Dugan “He was able to help us out, get us to the right terminology so we could speak to facilities about what we needed. So it worked out.”
Solution Based on Centralized Control
To date, CPCC’s access control system includes AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Enterprise V7 security management system (SMS), 225 Symmetry network single door controllers, a combination of 225 Symmetry and HID Global proximity access control card readers, ASSA ABLOY 9600 electric rim strikes, and Security Door Controls (SDC) electric latch retraction kits.
“The AMAG software and hardware provided the best solution in two ways,” says Alexander. “The software allowed CPCC to put all their technology solutions — video, access control, burglar alarm and intercom — out to one platform that was very easy for the security officers to use, and extremely intuitive. From a hardware standpoint, installation was easy because we used the EN-1DBC edge devices. By running a simple Cat-5 cable to each door, and then running our cables down to the door, our installation times were improved.”
The surveillance system is paced by ipConfigure video management system (VMS) and approximately 500 Axis Communications IP cameras (standard and megapixel); while other systems include DMP XR500N intrusion alarm panels and Sentrol (UTC) door contacts, Lynx IP duress alarms, and a variety of emergency call stations.
“We started getting our feet wet in security with video surveillance,” says Dugan. “One of the things that brought a smile to my face after reviewing all the video management systems out there was ipConfigure’s approach. They were very IT enterprise centric, with a simple interface that was easy to manage and could scale in multiple ways.”
Both the VMS and SMS supported the architectural design imperative for a solution that was both centralized and distributed. CPCC’s strategy was to first ramp up storage capacity at the centrally based main campus. Expansion would then occur by distributing the system with a backend server at every site to manage the bandwidth locally, and truncate security and surveillance so only necessary data would come back to the main site. The use of edge devices was another key piece of the puzzle.
“One of the great things I’ve enjoyed about CPCC is we’ve used all edge device access control readers,” says Alexander. “We don’t have a central panel; we have a panel at every door. They’re all powered over Ethernet at the door. With edge devices if one controller goes down you can still get in at one of the other doors. That design element, one single point of failure, is a big plus especially from an IT standpoint.”
Integration of all the security systems is fed into the SMS’ Web-based interface and populates it with live and recorded video when an alarm sounds. So if a door is forced or held open at a certain time, video automatically pops up instead of security personnel having to watch monitors 24/7 and hope that they catch an incident.
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