Maintaining Secure School Entry through Transition
Improving and updating an older, but operational, access control system in a school environment presents myriad challenges and numerous, potential liabilities.
During the replacement of an outdated system with a newer one, school security has to remain a top priority and there must be as little downtime as possible.
Keri Systems’ management of the Loomis Chaffe school’s access control needs, is an excellent case-in-point of a seamless transition to a new system.
Loomis Chaffee is a private school in Windsor, Connecticut that came to Keri Systems with aged access control: a Northern Computer system, using 37-bit cards, with approximately 80 doors throughout 12 buildings.
The goal for the project was to replace the outdated system, while causing little to no downtime or disruption.
During the retrofit process, no one who worked for or attended the Loomis Chaffe school knew the system was being changed from Northern to Keri Systems. It took three days to complete the transition. As people entered and exited the facilities, their cards continued to work and doors continued to lock and unlock as per their normal schedule. The only disruption involved isolated groups of doors being down for a very short period of time – typically less than two hours per set of doors.
Keri Systems’ ability to take over older projects, in conjunction with the Credential Manager, is a unique feature set that not all access systems offer. Those that can, such as Mercury Controller -based systems, often have large annual license costs.
The savings to the school came in the form of Cards and Readers, which did not have to be replaced. Furthermore, since there was not a second set of cards to contend with, there were no interruptions and no confusion as to which cards to use on which readers and when.
The school also saved money by purchasing Keri Systems’ NXT RM3, which is half the cost of a new reader and allowed for the interface of old readers to new control equipment..
How Did Keri Systems Complete the Transition?
Seamless Technical Takeover
Keri Systems began with a card evaluation and analysis, so the team could pre-learn its existing card structure. Once they determined it was an open, rather than a proprietary, structure they began building a customized software program - and were able to do so without requiring any Keri hardware on site.
The team imported the existing cardholder database into Keri software. They used the Keri credential manager, and imported the existing database into the software, as a function of LDAP/Active Directory Integration.
They ensured all steps were functional prior to beginning any panel installations. Email and text alerts were set up before any Keri hardware could be placed. They also set up time schedules, access groups and various linkages, as requested by the school.
Once the customized software was fully developed, the hardware, in this case NXT-MSC panels, were brought into all of the network closets and temporarily hung on the walls. The panels included the NXT RM 3 Reader interface modules, so that the Wiegand protocol could be read.
The team powered up all the new equipment, and made network connections. Then, the new software was downloaded into all new panels to ensure connectivity.
A group of doors, which were noted and marked based on the existing panels, were temporarily propped open. In this case, the school determined security guards were not needed, but employees in the affected area were notified and signs were posted.
The old panels were removed, and the new Keri NXT-MSC panels were powered down and put into place. The team transferred readers and locking mechanisms to the NXT panels. Then, the panels were powered back up and a Memory Reset was done at the server.
At this point, the updated doors were now working, all signs were removed, and the team moved onto the next group of doors.
Next, the team worked to hang the new panels, power them up, and connect. The integrator propped a series of doors open for a brief period while he took down the old panels and replaced them with the NXT-MSC, completed a memory update, and then the doors were functioning again.
Replacing an old Access Control System can be Seamless
Access Control Systems can and should be updated seamlessly. With the right team, technology, and plan, interruptions can be avoided and customers can save money.
Bob Stosse has been an Independent Rep for almost 30 years. In that time, he has transitioned from the Contract Hardware side of the Commercial door opening market to the electrification of and control of that opening through network solutions. He has represented Keri for 18 years and has been responsible for countless creative integrations, always to the benefit of the customer and uniquely using Keri Systems’ Products.