Safety First with High-Tech Communications

Taking advantage of DePaul’s IP network, an integrator makes VoIP the technology of choice for emergency communications.

As facilities are installing IP networks building-wide, it becomes economical to install Voice over IP (VoIP) emergency phones in hallways, stairwells and elevators, along with IP-based video surveillance and access control systems.

For DePaul University, upgrading to VoIP emergency phones was not a difficult decision to make. Founded in 1898, DePaul University is the largest private institution in Chicago, with more than 23,000 students.

“Fortunately, I’m set in an institution that is big on safety,” explained Bob Wachowski, director of public safety for DePaul University. “There is a capital funding program in place, and DePaul has come a long way. The university administration is very supportive of my needs, and that is unique.”

REX Electric and Technologies LLC was the contractor on the job. DePaul’s analog emergency phones recently were upgraded to VoIP emergency phones, all manufactured by Niles, Ill.-based Talk-A-Phone. The new phones are SIP compatible and work on college’s IP PBX system.

As an added benefit, VOIP-500 series emergency phones can be paged at high volume with Talk-A-Phone’s WEBS Contact® mass notification software, allowing the public safety personnel to issue targeted alerts to any segment of the campus, in groups or individually. The software automatically tests and verifies connectivity of VOIP-500 series phones and sends e-mail alerts on failure detection.

Wachowski also recently installed Talk-A-Phone’s new generation of all-LED Blue Lights on 90 existing emergency phone towers. “You can see them from about everywhere you are on campus. They help our students feel safe and they are a great deterrent to crime,” he described.

“Our biggest crime is theft of unattended items,” Wachowski said. “But some of our issues occur late at night, so the phone towers assist the students. I recently met with the student government association to help us promote use of them. Our campus tour guides already promote them. We like to make sure every student is aware of the emergency call towers.” — Contributed by Talk-a-Phone

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Security Upgrade Set in Stone

Convergint partners with San Jose State University to complete multi-phase security upgrade.

The San Francisco office of Convergint Technologies was awarded a phase I $1 million contract in 2008 to install an S2 access control system in 32 buildings throughout the campus of San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif. Both the customer and consultant chose S2 access control platform for its ease of installation and use. As for selecting Convergint Technologies as their systems integrator, the university’s evaluation team criteria included competitive pricing, experience and the overall thoroughness of their technical proposal submitted.

The project involved installing access control readers on key perimeter doors throughout the campus and had two key challenges. First, the university had a short timeline of six months to complete the installation while school was in session and second, the majority of the buildings were architecturally challenging; they are older stone buildings with no existing infrastructure to support the installation of a state-of-the-art access control platform.

Acting as the prime contractor, Convergint utilized local subcontractors for both the door locking hardware and the electrical work. To minimize the impact on university students and staff, the project followed a tight installation schedule that included the systematic completion of a few buildings at a time. The initial project was successfully completed on-time and on-budget.

Since the completion of phase I, Convergint has designed and installed a Milestone video management system server, which is fully integrated with the S2 access control platform, to connect with the university’s existing CCTV cameras. Convergint was awarded recently phase II of San Jose State’s security upgrade plan, which includes an $850,000 project to add 140 card readers to the existing S2 system. Convergint anticipates that the phase II work will be completed by December 2011. — Contributed by Convergint Technologies

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Non-Students are Welcomed and Chronicled

A visitor management system not only automates, but centralizes guest information campus-wide at Loyola.

Many colleges and universities are protecting students, faculty and staff with EasyLobby Secure Visitor Management. Loyola University Chicago is one of these installations.

Loyola University Chicago is the nation’s largest Jesuit Catholic University. It is an urban campus that has a large number of non-students, especially at the school libraries that are often visited by students from other nearby institutions.

At a college such as Loyola, professional visitor management starts with the ability to monitor and control all guests who are entering campus buildings, particularly residence halls. EasyLobby’s visitor management systems can track students visiting another student’s residence hall, and track and badge all non-student visitors. EasyLobby’s screening of visitors on each states’ registered sex offender database also can be used by colleges to flag those visitors at the time of check in.

College campuses such as Loyola that are using EasyLobby can scan student IDs and driver’s licenses, print customized visitor badges for non-students, including a photo, and obtain reports of all visitor activity.

Internal “watch lists” combined with alerts can be added easily so that certain school officials can be notified when unwanted visitors attempt to check in. Alerts also can be used for any number of other reasons when actions need to be taken with specific visitors.

Prior to the EasyLobby deployment, visitor logs at Loyola were kept by hand and on a building-by-building basis. There was no automation or central record-keeping.

The use of EasyLobby at Loyola has grown significantly since the initial installation. Like many organizations, Loyola began its use of EasyLobby visitor management at a single location — one of its libraries. But the university soon expanded the use of registering visitors to include three libraries, seven residence halls and four administrative buildings. — Contributed by EasyLobby Inc.

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University is a Fast Learner on Access Control

Open architecture solution made it easy for Rockhurst to cross the bridge from old technology to new.

Rockhurst University is a 100-year-old comprehensive university, located in central Kansas City, Mo. The security of more than 3,000 Rockhurst students, faculty and staff is the responsibility of the university’s Security Department, which utilizes Access It!® Universal access control software from RS2 Technologies, Munster, Ind. The security system includes the university’s dormitories, classroom buildings and administrative areas, and utilizes 24/7 closed circuit TV to give security personnel a campus-wide view of most activity.

When the university decided to replace an older access control system, two of the key requirements were that the new system be able to utilize existing hardware and interface with the university’s Banner™ Student System database. Access It!® Universal and RS2’s commitment to non-proprietary, open architecture systems made both objectives easy to meet.

Rockhurst, a mid-sized institution, fits within the wide spectrum of small to very large campuses that have chosen RS2 Technologies as their access control solution, including the University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, Loyola, University of Texas – Brownsville, Anderson University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Valparaiso University and many others. According to RS2 national sales manager Gary Staley, “We have installed systems from New England to the West Coast, from the Upper Midwest to the U.S. – Mexico border. They range from enterprise-level systems such as the system at the University of Pittsburgh (which covers more than 40 buildings and 35,000 students and employees) down to two- or three-building systems covering a few hundred people.”

Staley said that campus security directors and police chiefs generally require that university security systems must be:

  • extremely user-friendly, as operators frequently include campus police rather than IT professionals.
  • capable of being integrated with other campus security systems.
  • completely scalable, with capability for frequent expansion, as many campuses are undergoing construction booms, and
  • installed by providers who recognize that the work will have to be completed during periods when students are not at school, such as spring break or summer vacation.

— Contributed by RS2 Technologies. For more information visit


Evolving Access Control Improves Security

Mansfield Universitylinks access control to video with Blackboard and Axis Communications.

Despite its rural Pennsylvania setting, Mansfield University is situated just a mile from a major interstate that attracts many visitors to the area’s parks, scenic vistas and rail trail. The surrounding community also has recently undergone a change due to recent natural gas exploration in the area’s shale formations.

Security for the 3,400-student university is evolving with the times. “In anticipation of the sudden influx, it’s important to shore up security in our residence halls since many more outsiders might have access to our campus,” said Chuck Colby, association vice president of Residence Life, Mansfield University.

Despite the dormitory policy, students often left doors propped open, which jeopardized the safety of everyone in the buildings. Residence Life administrators decided that installing a keycard access system tied to IP video surveillance would reduce the university’s potential liability while improving security in the co-ed housing facilities. The university contracted with Blackboard Transact, a Phoenix -based network integrator, to integrate the school’s One Card system — an ID card that doubles as a debit and dorm access control card — with Axis Communications’ network cameras installed above entryways.

Blackboard selected an array of fixed dome, vandal-resistant cameras with audio detection, motion detection and tampering alarms so university officials could stay on top of potential threats, or if the cameras lose connectivity. If the cameras’ embedded intelligence is triggered, an alert is sent to Residence Life administrators with a live feed.

Campus security and residence hall directors not only can identify suspicious individuals, but they also see who might be propping doors open. If an issue persists, they can search for archived video using the intuitive Blackboard Video Surveillance VMS.

Mansfield plans to eventually roll out surveillance cameras across its 175-acre campus. Talks are already underway to install network cameras in the bookstore, library and academic areas, as well as parking lots, walkways and hiking trails.

— By Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications  Inc. For more information, visit