IP-Based Access, CCTV Anchor Apartment Application


Crime respects no one — not even the affluent who live in one of the most privileged sections of Manhattan. During the past few decades, crime in multiple-family dwellings has been the focus of law enforcement, public housing authorities, crime prevention proponents and residents. Proactive programs on all fronts have helped reduce crime, but there is always more work that can be done.

In many instances, it’s only after an unfortunate occurrence that the owner(s) of a housing complex will make a decision to take action to prevent additional criminal activity. In all too many cases, the extent to which the owner is willing to expand security is often limited by budgetary concerns and/or doubts that anything can really be done.

The owners of East River Landing, a four-building, 1,594-unit campus on the upper east side of Manhattan, took the initiative to upgrade an aging security system in the spring of 2005.

“They were being proactive actually. The focus of the project was four underground parking garages — one for each building — with 12 entrances total. This is why we suggested IP-based access control and CCTV systems,” says Maria Gonzalez, CTO with Nortronics of Fairview, N.J.

Unlike so many others, their decision did not hinge on an unfortunate incident because there wasn’t any. However, part of the reason involved the facility’s close proximity to a neighborhood with a high rate of crime, which sits opposite the campus on the other side of the East River.

In order to protect the residents of East River Landing from potential threats, Nortronics installed a fully integrated security system that includes access control and video. At the center of both systems lies a state-of-the-art local area network (LAN) to which both head-ends connect.

Garage Security and an Aging CCTV System Warrant Upgrade
The East River Landing complex is located in a section of Manhattan where some of the richest New Yorkers reside. Prior to the upgrades, the facility lacked effective security, especially in the parking garages. There were traditional garage door operators on the parking garage doors, but there was no true security procedure in place to control access and track activity.

“The garage openers were given to tenants, and there was no way to keep track of who had them or when someone was abusing the system,” says Gonzalez.

The complex also had an existing analog-based CCTV system, but management was concerned about its present condition.

“We wanted to secure our residents better than our 15-year-old [camera] system would allow,” says Ron Bynoe, general manager for the complex. “We never expected we could afford some of the most advanced security technology available today.”

A consultant was hired by East River Landing to come up with a new security system design that would protect the residents from possible criminal acts by others outside the complex. Subsequently the design was finished, a specification written and a request for proposal (RFP) issued.

Giving the Client What They Need Instead of What They Want
The owners of this four-building complex had originally intended to install a new access control system in the parking garages as well as upgrade their existing analog CCTV system. The RFP called for another analog camera system with DVRs for image retention.

Nortronics responded to East River Landing’s RFP, which it received from a consultant. Nortronics won the bid, but the firm’s sales engineer saw an opportunity to upgrade the consultant’s security design from analog to that of an IP-based system. It was also suggested they employ an access-control system that could operate over IP as well.

“We bid on the job as requested and won the contract, but soon afterward we decided to suggest the use of new technology that we thought would be a great fit for this complex,” says Gonzalez. “So we approached the consultant and demonstrated the new system for them. Because they liked it, they asked that we demonstrate it for the client, and they liked it too.”

It was then that the consultant and the client agreed to use Nortronics’ IP-capable security systems instead of what had been called for in the specification. A change order was generated against the contract and the work began.

“We were able to keep two to five technicians on the job at all times until it was finished in the summer,” says Gonzalez. “We used Union teledata technicians, IBEW, Local 3. Our project manager [PM] and factory-certified technicians worked right along side of them.”

Balancing Physical Security and Access Control Considerations
Before Nortronics could begin installing the access control portion of the contract, it installed 12 new garage doors for better physical protection. Each door was placed on a motorized opener/closer for the security, safety and convenience of the residents.

Each motorized door was placed under the control of a radio-frequency access control system manufactured by AAID of Peachtree City, Ga.

The RF portion of this system is similar to the EZ-Pass system, which means access into the facility requires minimum effort on the part of residents. This is because the access control tags are mounted inside each vehicle, which means the residents can no longer misplace them, loan them out or lose them as in the past.

The AAID access control system Nortronics used was the AA-R500WP long-range vehicle reader with AAID long-range windshield-style vehicle tags. The latter, Model AA-T200, measures 2.4 inches long, 1.2 inches wide and less than a half-inch thick.

The vehicle tags are active RF transmitters that send an encrypted RF signal to the AA-R500WP. With this particular system, read range can be adjusted from 6 inches to 450 feet.

“These readers’ read range can reach more than 300 feet. For this installation, Nortronics’ technicians programmed each one with a different range depending on where the garage doors were located in the complex layout,” says Gonzalez. “Some doors were programmed for a shorter read range. In some cases the reader’s read range had to be shortened because it could have activated and opened the garage door had a car with the proper access tag driven by.”

Such an extensive read range is only possible using an active tag, as passive models rely entirely on a static electromagnetic field to trigger them. This field is emitted by an antenna at the door. Because of the construction of each of the buildings in the complex, this arrangement would not have been practical.

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