How Biometrics Is Securing a YMCA of Central Florida Facility
Dr. P. Phillips YMCA, located in Doctor Phillips, Fla., has installed Software House’s C-CURE 9000 security and event management platform.
The Dr. P. Phillips YMCA is the largest among the 25 locations operated by the YMCA of Central Florida. The center received an $11 million renovation beginning in 2014 and culminating in a grand reopening in December 2016. About 26,000 square feet was added to the center and another 30,000 square feet renovated.
The facility now serves some 11,000 active members. A key part of the renovation project was an upgrade in the physical access control system that allows members entrance to the facility and tracks their membership and access data through a biometric registration process. The biometric program was piloted at the 4,900-member Roper YMCA facility in 2015.
Updating Visitor Management Challenges
With its large and active membership, The Dr. P. Phillips YMCA encountered several issues when it came to ensuring that people entering the facility were current registered members.
Using an access control database that relied on membership cards with bar codes, members coming into the center had to present their card for scanning. That card’s data, in turn, talked with the membership database. If there was an issue, such as a card being rejected by the system, it was up to individuals manning the desk to check the person’s status and determine if they could enter.
However, because of lag time in information from the scanned card talking with the database and no physical barrier to hold a person until the information was verified, the rejected cardholder may well have already entered the facility by the time information on their status was available to desk personnel. There was also a problem with information not being up-to-date as it was stored within two separate databases, so someone whose membership had expired may still have had a valid card that worked with the scanner.
Additionally, working with physical cards meant members often forgot them at home or lost them and that required additional work by the desk staff to look up and verify a person’s membership. Cards could also be shared because there was no way during scanning to determine if the holder was the actual member and more than one person could theoretically enter on a single card.
Biometric Readers Combined With Turnstiles
To address the major issues — increasing security by restricting access of non-members and verifying member identity — the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA selected an access control system that deploys both physical barriers and biometrics, riding on Software House C-CURE 9000 security and event management platform to control the flow of people and the accuracy of data.
For the security lane portion of the access control system, the YMCA’s integrator, Jonson Controls, selected SlimLane, a swing glass optical turnstile, from Automatic Systems. Although typically used in corporate settings, this sleek, attractive glass-and-metal product met the YMCA’s criteria for controlling access, but doing so with more of a visual than a physical barrier. The YMCA installed two sets with three lanes each.
There are two lanes equipped with biometric fingerprint readers and another gate for wheelchair or other access that can be controlled manually. Working from data provided by the integrated biometric reader, the gate will give a go or no-go signal to open. If someone tailgates — meaning enters on the previous person’s credential — the system will send both an audible alarm and visual alerts with the light flashing red instead of green. The gates provide both entrance and egress to the YMCA and are programmed to automatically open in the event of a fire alarm or power failure.
The biometric readers, which are used with the turnstiles and at the desk for enrollment of members, come from iDentytech Solutions, a company based in Miami. The readers, which use multispectral imaging sensors and multiple algorithms, can capture a broad set of people, making them ideal for a setting such as the YMCA that has a vast range of ages, ethnicities and even health profiles among its participants – all of which can impact the ability to accurately capture and read a fingerprint.
While the YMCA’s current needs are for thousands of people’s fingerprint data to be stored, the iDentytech readers can store more than 200,000 unique users on the readers/controllers.
The readers operate with an embedded integration on the C-CURE 9000 platform, so there is no need for a secondary database or multiple management platforms. Ephram Yeashoua, president and CEO of iDentytech, says such an in-depth integration was done, ensuring seamless operation and positive user experience, required a lot of development and cooperation between the parties — there is a dedicated C-CURE 9000 driver within the product – which is part of the company’s ongoing relationship with Software House, one of the security product brands of Johnson Controls.
“We worked closely with the YMCA to ensure all the solutions they selected integrated seamlessly together and could also provide customers with a positive user experience,” says Edward Regan, Area Sales Manager, Johnson Controls. “The YMCA of Central Florida was very forward-thinking with the technology and approach they took.”
For the YMCA, the enrollment process, which takes place on an iDentytech enrollment reader, is a one-and-done process. C-CURE 9000 is the single platform that underlies the data gathered from the Salesforce CRM and the fingerprint data provided through the iDentytech fingerprint scan. There is no card to carry or pin number to remember.
“With the old system the only way to tell which family center membership someone held was by the color of the barcode,” says Dan Humbert, Vice President of IT for the YMCA of Central Florida. “But with the C-CURE 9000 system that’s all automated. So we capture the information on where they can work out.”
This is important to the YMCA because memberships may limit the locations and types of activities to which people have access. Under the old system it was difficult to know if a family hadn’t paid to access some of the amenities or programs specific to the Dr. P. Phillips Family Center. It was also hard to track the exact number of visitors to the system. The new system enables the YMCA to more accurately account for its daily, weekly and monthly use.
Another benefit from the new access control system and membership program is more accurate accounting of membership status. Out-of-date memberships are easily flagged by the system, so when people can’t gain access with their biometric they are directed to the desk where they can pay on-site and be reinstated.
“C-CURE provides more accurate information; no one can slip by,” explains Humbert.
Based on the success at the Dr. P. Phillips YMCA and the Roper YMCA Family Center, where the pilot program using just the biometric readers took place, the YMCA of Central Florida is looking to roll out this access control model at more locations.
And harnessing the user data that resides with C-CURE 9000, the YMCA has the potential to use that information down the road to more efficiently schedule classes or staff or even gain a better understanding of where people go within the building, such as whether that person is using the pool or attending a spin class, once they pass through the access portal.
“We’re looking at the platform and seeing how we can grow with it,” says Humbert.
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