Public Safety updates student ID card system

Student ID cards should now work better than ever due to system changes in Public Safety. Public Safety and Facilities Management proposed that the Access Control system be replaced because of occasional glitches on the cards and in order to connect systems across campus. The project began last May and was practically finished in August.
“The change in access control systems was needed as the old system was becoming more and more unstable, meaning the integrity of the campus from a security standpoint would be put at risk without action. The cost to replace the portion of the system that was technologically obsolete and creating the problems was a significant cost. At that point, replacing the system was an option,” Jonathan Stevens, Facilities Manager, said in an email.
The new system is called Continuum Software. It is a Schnieder Electric product. “This system also compliments our Building Automation System, which is also a Schneider product. Right now the two systems are combined in a single server and in the future, greater control over campus systems will be possible,” he said.
Because the switch to a new system should have fixed these glitches, students should not notice the difference in their ID cards. Stevens said, “The most significant change has been the improvement on reliability of the system. There have been no instability issues so far.”
Stevens added that Continuum is also easier for the staff at Public Safety to program than the previous system. “The Schneider installation and maintenance technicians have been excellent, and the programming staff is extremely responsive to our needs. Right now we have a significant ability to customize Continuum to our security needs now and into the future.”
Another benefit of Continuum is the internal battery backup that Stevens said will last close to 24 hours. “If the panels in a building are somehow cut off from the campus network, they will continue to function normally until the connection is reestablished,” he said. For students, this means that their ID cards and their scanners will still work for close to a day without electricity.
Stevens said that the project began in the first week of May. “Throughout the summer we have had buildings switched over to the new system and brought them online. We have completed the vast majority of the project by August 15. Work on some of the smaller details, such as covering holes and troubleshooting a few locations, is mostly complete,” he said.
Operations Manager Jill Burton said, “The College switched from a system that was proprietary to more of an industry standard.”
Burton explained, “When we first started with Access Control about nineteen, twenty years ago, (the College) purchased a program that was proprietary, meaning we could get only one kind of cards and one service provider. And it needed several upgrades in hardware. Now we’re able to get more competitive pricing with everything and continue to provide the same level of security because it basically functions in the same way and there are some more features that we couldn’t do before.”
Burton finished, “I want students to feel safe. I want them to feel like the system is working.”

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