19 Jan 2016

University Experiences Seamless Security Update with Vanderbilt SMS Access Control System

 


Results Achieved:

  • Seamless integration with existing systems
  • Streamlined management for door security personnel
  • Ability to perform real-time lockdown of the campus centrally
  • Ability to control user access based on user groups/time codes
  • Automation with multiple human resources, student information and One Card systems

The Customer

Surrounded by a pristine campus and set on 155 acres Maryland, this leading university is a premier public university. What began as a two-year teacher’s college soon expanded to a four-year university in 1934. Today, this institution is a nationally accredited institution offering 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in an open yet secure atmosphere that encourages close relationships between faculty and students.

As a growing organization, the college needed to take steps to update its existing security landscape, where disparate systems could come together into one, cohesive solution. Its IT Director recognized an opportunity to seek out a new solution that would be reliable and stable for their growing needs after one technology provider ceased operations.

The Challenge

“Our previous solution was extremely dated and unreliable even prior to the company going under,” he said. “As a result, reliability and stability of the new system was a priority.”

The organization also needed a system that had the ability to integrate with the university’s One Card, human resources and student information systems, with easier management and automation to ease day-to-day workload for security personnel.

The university chose the Vanderbilt Security Management System (SMS) as a solution that could ensure long-term investment protection and serve as a clearinghouse for access control management across the campus. Kratos Public Safety & Security Solutions, Inc., a national security company and specialized integrator with more than 50 years of experience, provided the installation and will support the system moving forward.

The Vanderbilt SMS delivers a powerful, single source solution for integrating a facility’s access control technologies, digital video and alarm monitoring systems. The systems are scalable, allowing the college to meet the security requirements of the campus today, and expand to meet any growth needs in the future. The system is perfect for large, multi-site or global organizations, and supports an unlimited amount of cardholders and readers while providing unparalleled flexibility. This makes the SMS solution a good fit for the growing institution.

The Solution

Spanning the entire campus, all online locks from various manufacturers are managed by the Vanderbilt SMS solution. While exterior entrances to buildings were the main priority, some interior rooms that are considered highly sensitive are also included in the new system. It was important that each individual building on campus did not require its own access control software solution to be functional. Additionally, integration with One Card, human resources and student information systems was paramount to the success of a new SMS system. To accomplish this, Kratos installed VI Connect, a data management engine (DME), which integrates data from SMS, along with several other enterprise software solutions deployed at the university.

“This solution brings tremendous value to our implementation of Vanderbilt SMS through the automation of data feeds from our HR, student records and active directory systems,” noted the university’s IT manager.

“This allows us to base user access off employment records, enrollment data and dynamically updated security roles without any user involvement. By pulling from other systems of record, we also allow users to manage doors through the already familiar interfaces they use in their day-to-day operations without having to teach them or even make them aware of the Vanderbilt SMS client.”


The integrated system allows updated information from the One Card system, along with various other systems around campus, to be directly updated within the SMS, eliminating the need for multiple data entry points. The successful integration of these systems would not be possible, however, without some of the unique features provided by Vanderbilt. SMS has a unique way of combining the access levels of students and staff members with their respective rights and privileges based on security groups and time codes for various configurations or collections of doors, which is something that many universities require.

While most colleges typically make large-scale changes like this during spring or summer breaks, Kratos and Vanderbilt worked together in the middle of the first semester to deploy the SMS system and install 44 high-end Vanderbilt controllers with 166 doors or areas controlled by the SMS system.

“Part of the reason we were able to do this was because of the way the DME solution integrates data,” said Brian Mathieu, Director of System Sales, Vanderbilt. “The university only ‘sees’ one system as the DME solution interfaces directly with the other platforms. Therefore, the data only has to be entered once.”

The university benefits from several features in its Vanderbilt SMS solution, including the ability to integrate seamlessly with existing systems and the ability to manage locks from a variety of vendors. It can automate and ease management of access privileges and customize schedules easily though one intuitive interface.

“By automating the access and schedules, we realize significant cost savings in labor because it allows operators to focus on new initiatives and projects that are not only more strategic, but also more satisfying for the personnel involved,” university officials said.

“The integration that we’re doing with all the different systems on campus sets us apart from other access control providers,” Mathieu continued. “We are seeing significant savings by helping higher education facilities eliminate the need for entering data in multiple systems, which helps change the way schools deploy access control solutions.”

With SMS, the college has also ensured campus lockdowns are now possible. The ability to perform a real-time lockdown of the campus centrally with the ease of a push-button, as well as recover from that lockdown with the same ease is critical. University police now initiate a lockdown using a button in their dispatch headquarters. They can also pull system data in the event of an emergency situation, helping to streamline response.

The Future

The Vanderbilt SMS solution excels at bringing cross-vendor support, and the company’s attentiveness and support set the company apart from others. Additionally, Vanderbilt offers more options for event management and access control on campus, which the university is interested in implementing in the future.

“We are in the process of integrating our event scheduling system with Vanderbilt, which will automatically alter door locking schedules based on calendar data to eliminate tedious scheduling changes,” said the IT director. Incorporating the university’s event management system into the access control solution allows security officials to lock and unlock doors based on what’s happening on campus, ensuring that doors do not have to be physically unlocked during these times.

“The system is performing extremely well, is very responsive and the level of automation we have achieved is beyond our expectations,” he said. “We’re experiencing far more reliability while ensuring a secure environment. Additionally, this translates into a more consistent and reliable experience for our users.”

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