How smart security tech
saved a research institute 60,000 USD a year
At a US-based research institute where employees work on highly sensitive projects supporting governments, organisations and universities across a wide range of industries globally, strict security and smart tech allow the team to keep a watchful eye on multiple sites, from one location.
From the headquarters to all eleven field offices across the country, this research institute’s security team uses one central hub, the Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC), to manage all alerts and threats via one system. This was made possible back in 2009, when it migrated its systems to Symmetry, a product designed by a G4S company, AMAG Technology.
Historically, the headquarters and field offices used different security systems which did not have the capacity to meet the institute’s growing needs. The system used on the headquarters campus had to be rebooted up to three times a day in order to keep running, while the system used across the field offices hosted a physical access control system, leading to exorbitant operational and maintenance fees.
After initially migrating to Symmetry, the research institute saved approximately $60,000 a year in these costly fees. And from the GSOC, the security team can manage all access control, video surveillance, mass notification, License Plate Recognition (LPR) and Long-Range Vehicle Credential readers at the click of a button.
Restricting access to critical areas
Because of the sensitive nature of their work, employees working on-site are required to follow strict access control measures to ensure that only authorised staff are allowed in sensitive areas. To achieve tight control, the institute uses two-factor authentication, ID card plus PIN, in its most critical areas.
This smart system also allows them to protect restricted areas by applying different access statuses to employees. And these restrictions can easily be applied, removed or changed by the system administrator. For example, doors would only open for super users such as security officers or emergency responders if the “executive card mode” was enabled.
In the event of an emergency, they have the ability to lock down a site building by building, or even campus-wide with just one click. This allows them to slow down threats while protecting employees and valuable intellectual property.
By implementing Symmetry, the company reduced the number of unnecessary alerts that were triggered in the operating centre by troubleshooting door hardware or identifying false alarms if a door is being held open. This means that officers trust the information and alerts which come through to their system, and patrol officers are only sent to locations when there is a genuine need for escalation.
As the research institute acquires new businesses and offices, they can convert the existing system to Symmetry, and continue to monitor the new offices within the GSOC.
Looking forward, the security team is investigating better ways to manage identities to automate processes and become more efficient. For this, they are in the planning stages of upgrading their system to SMART cards using Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) compliant Symmetry Blue Bluetooth readers and Symmetry M4000 Intelligent Controllers. This will allow them to track who's been where and more importantly use this data to optimise processes and detect unusual behaviour.
Smart cameras that prevent intruders
Years ago after some potentially dangerous employees and contractors were dismissed, the institute deployed a stand-alone LPR and Long Range Vehicle Access Credential system to monitor incoming traffic.
The campus is set up so that all vehicles have to drive by two LPRs to get on campus, which have a greater than 90% chance of reading a license plate. They capture the license plate images and compare it to what is in the database while an alert sounds and an email is sent to designated employees if a person of interest has entered campus.
In the future, the institute plans to integrate Symmetry with its video management and LPR systems in order for all these solutions to be managed together.