Magazine article Security Management

School's Security Moved Up a Grade. (Working Wise)

Magazine article Security Management

School's Security Moved Up a Grade. (Working Wise)

Article excerpt

The University of Texas at Arlington has operated under many auspices since its founding in 1895 as Arlington College. The school has been a military academy, a training school, and a vocational college. Now, it is the second largest campus in the University of Texas system. It serves 23,000 students from 150 nations--approximately 4,500 of whom live on campus. The 400-acre campus is also home to more than 30 buildings, five of which are residence halls.

Developing well-integrated access controls, alarms, and surveillance systems for the large campus was a challenge. In 1994, the school installed a Diebold ICAM access control system that had online controls and ran on an open VMS platform. The campus was also equipped with 125 burglar alarm panels that were controlled by software.

The buildings were secured with 85 CCTV cameras recorded and monitored locally. Each building's operations manager oversaw the CCTV cameras in his or her facility. Often the cameras were set to record, but no one was charged with monitoring the feeds. And none of the systems--the access control, alarms, or CCTV--were integrated.

"We had no cohesive CCTV program," says Kent Pawlak, director of campus card operations for the university. Pawlak had experience in networking other campus systems such as the one that controls the student debit cards.

After reviewing the system, Pawlak was faced with two options: Upgrade or buy all new products. Since cost was a factor and Diebold had just put its new integration system (called CS Gold) on the market, Pawlak recommended that the university upgrade. But, before the move was sanctioned, Pawlak worked with numerous other parties to ensure that the move was a good one.

"The campus police department was focused on public safety and criminal investigations," explains Pawlak, "and we don't have a security department." So, the police department was only one of the decision makers. Pawlak worked with the police to determine whether the plan would meet their needs. The plan was then reviewed by a committee led by the assistant police chief Other stakeholders, such as maintenance personnel, also made comments.

The upgrade was approved in August 2002, and installation of the first phase was completed in December of that year. The second phase of the project started in April 2003 and will be finished by the end of the summer.

The first phase was limited to 10 cameras to ensure that integration worked. The cameras are linked to an upgraded access control system and a new alarm management system. All of the products work on a Windows platform using an Oracle database. All of the feeds are routed to a central station located in the campus police office. A new officer has been hired to monitor and oversee the system.

Phase one has been a success, according to Pawlak. The most useful new features, he says, are flexibility, integration of alarms and access control, and multiple-alarm monitoring.

The flexibility of the system allows Pawlak to program the levels and priority of alarms. The operations manager for each building can decide what will happen when an alarm triggers--the system can call up a map, notify someone by e-mail, send a fax, or cause a computer program to run. …

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