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Eastern Suffolk BOCES

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Eastern Suffolk BOCES improves access control system

 

Tragedy at one school seems to jump start improved security at another. Such is the case for the Eastern Suffolk BOCES, an educational cooperative of 51 Long Island, New York school districts, providing educational leadership, direct instruction, management, and support through quality, cost-effective instructional programs and shared services.

Education these days must be protected, and students deserve to feel safe and secure in their classrooms and surroundings. ESBOCES programs and services maximize educational and career opportunities for the diverse Long island community, which is filled with lifelong learners -- both children and adults.

Who is ESBOCES? Students are K-12 special education, career and technology education, and ESBOCES also provides adult education opportunities. There are about 1,700 special education students, 1,600 CTE students, and throughout the school year, 5,400 adult education students. Security for staff, students and the faculty has been and continues to be one of the major priorities.

Because bandwidth is always an issue, ESBOCES' IT department had decided to expand their fiber capacity at all sites. This expansion allowed ESBOCES to upgrade to a 10 Gigabit backbone, not only to support present needs at the facilities, but to support the heavy bandwidth required by a new megapixel IP-based camera system. One of the major challenges for ESBOCES included centralizing the access control database and allowing for a WindowsActive Directory integration, thereby simplifying the administration of all employee access to the buildings.

"Working with ESBOCES has been an excellent opportunity for A+ Technology & Security to demonstrate the power of pure IP technology integration combined with industry best practices," said David Antar, president of A+ Technology & Security Solutions. "A+ chose ISONAS access control, Axis Communications and Panasonic IP canmeras, and is in the process of integrating them into IPVideo Corporation's SentryVMS®." 

The school was able to install a new access control system, and can leverage their newly expanded fiber backbone to handle all traffic, including access control. The system is now able to add and remove someone centrally from the database, and the person's access will be granted or denied to any of the 29 buildings on the network.

"By adding a new fiber connection, Eastern Suffolk BOCES is committed to technology in their curriculum, and by adding the Pure IP access control, they are investing in the safety of their students with a solution that provides longevity," said Rob Mossman, CEO of ISONAS. "The ability to integrate with the school's active directory to manage their 3,000 users along with the integration with SentryVMS provides them with a forward-thinking security solution for students and faculty."

ESBOCES now is one step ahead of the security curve when it comes to future add-ons, including additional door and buildings. Future plans at the school call for securing all exterior doors at all campuses.

As the world becomes a more interconnected web of IP addresses, the Internet of Things is driving dramatic changes and opportunity. Video surveillance has already moved from analog to IP with better cameras and feature rich software management tools. ISONAS offered ESBOCES a new opportunity by using panel-less systems and edge-based decision making. Some major benefits for the school are easier deployment, more flexibility and significant cost savings.

As the market continues in this path, ESBOCES is at the forefront of the access control market. In the future, they may be able to add web-based software or a mobile application to provide access from anywhere.

ESBOCES, like most schools and campuses, has a limited budget and this setup allows them to leverage the existing network, thereby reducing installation labor costs by eliminating all control panels and all dedicated access control wiring. The door controller stores permissions and acts as both reader and controller, eliminating need for multiple devices.

 "Our switch to the ISONAS equipment has allowed us to have a system that is more integrated and centralized," said Barbara Salatto, Associate Superintendent for Management Services. "Because we have multiple sites, the new methods increase the efficiency of the security efforts agency-wide."

Because needs change over time, the ESBOCES system may also have changes, but with the systems in place, adapting to changes is a benefit. If the school has a need to integrate to a video management software platform, or add a new building, the system can scale with them and is extremely flexible. For instance, A+ Technology has set up an operation integration between the access control and VMS, so that when a card is swiped, the corresponding camera calls up video for that doorway. In fact, James Adikes, a sales engineer for A+ Technology, said combining all aspects of this project absolutely has created "one of the most advanced security systems here on Long Island."

Initially, the project went pretty quickly, starting in June 2013. The larges delay was in the creation of a centralized database for the access control. Then, there was the creation of 3,000 new employee ID badges from design to picture updates, to actually printing and distributing the badges. A+ Technology will be working with ESBOCES for a long time because they have a full-service maintenance contract that is a "bumper to bumper" agreement.

ESBOCES is on a roll. The integration is complete, and the campuses are safe and secure with a networked system feeding to a central control station. It's unfortunate that other campus tragedies take place to raise awareness, but getting the ball rolling is the first step to a safer campus.

By Ralph Jensen, editor-in-chief of Security Products magazine.This article appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.