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Converged college
September 2009, Integrated Solutions

City College Coventry leads the way with a converged security solution choosing HID Global’s Crescendo.

Coventry College’s mission of 'Responding to Diversity; Raising the Standard; Taking Education Further', was something reflected in the development and choice of a suitable logical and physical access control solution.

Satel Naik, technical services manager, explained that the college had not previously used access control except for a few door code locks. He also identified that there was no information technology (IT) security solution in place. Naik’s vision for the future of the City College was to bring security technology to the forefront, by selecting the best possible solution and creating a truly intelligent building.

In adapting a new security solution, the college faced many challenges, including a culture of staff and students who were used to not wearing ID badges, in addition to limited secure parking, no real physical access control (some doors were left open), limited control of IT user accounts and some abuse of photocopying and printing privileges.

Naik explained that it was important for the college that current laborious and manual processes, such as library book inventory and fine payments, could also be automated and simplified in the future and be part of the planned ID solution. For the safety and convenience of students and staff, the college was also keen on reducing cash handling on site by introducing a cashless payment solution for the canteen.

Making the vision a reality

A key requirement for Coventry College was the ability to control real estate, personnel and assets through one medium – a multi-application smartcard. City College Coventry asked their security consultancy and integration company, Vision Security, to help find the best possible and cost-effective solution for today and the future.

Looking at the college’s requirements, Jason Hiller, head of sales for Vision Security, proposed an integrated and seamless solution that would combine both physical and logical access control. “City College required a sophisticated and reliable solution that would cater to their needs not only today, but in the future,” said Hiller. “We recommended a solution based on HID products.”

They recommend HID Global’s networked access control solution in conjunction with HID partner company, DVTel, for physical access control. To meet the logical access requirements, the college selected HID’s Crescendo solution, a multi-application smartcard.

“Having looked at several logical access solutions that are currently available on the market, Crescendo was the only real option for the college. Crescendo allowed us to use the same card for physical and logical access control, it is compatible with Windows and has a straightforward set-up,” said Naik.

As part of the solution, 1000 C700 Crescendo cards were deployed with integrated middleware to staff in order to centrally control personnel real estate and university access. Logical access is run on a virtual college server on a VM slice, running an SQL database and Windows 2003 Server software.

“Crescendo cards allow us to have card records initialised centrally through Microsoft Active Directory and use Microsoft’s Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) to control starters/leavers process to one record/account. The enrolment process is quick and easy, and is managed via HR by the technical team,” said Naik.

“City College opted for C700 Crescendo cards with 16K/16 iCLASS 13,56 MHz technology, which provides enough memory for current application requirements and has enough space on the card to add future deployments,” said Naik. “Should one day we require even more memory on our cards, we can always upgrade to HID’s 32K cards.”

Coventry College also has plans to implement a cashless catering solution, and currently promotes card carrying by offering staff and students a 10 percent discount on all card purchases. The chosen system is server-based, which means the cash on the card remains in the cardholders account if the card is lost or stolen. This gives students the confidence to use their cards without fear of losing money, while ensuring students and staff carry their ID cards at all times.

Additionally, the solution enables the storage of personal student information, such as allergies, on the smart card, helping canteen staff to only serve the cardholder with food suitable to their condition. The customised cards also enable the college to cut down on issues related to lost and/or stolen identities since the card holder’s photo is on the card, making it easy to identify fraudulent use of someone else’s card.

The future

“Finding something that truly works in an environment such as a college is rare, as students do test and ‘challenge’ equipment quite thoroughly,” explained Naik. “We are very happy with the results, and feedback we have received regarding the new solution, and plan to roll out Crescendo for all 12 000 students.”

Looking for a solution that would provide the security and trust they needed, Coventry City College was extremely pleased with HID Global’s single card solution. Not only does the smartcard-based solution meet the college’s current technical and functional specifications, it also provides the flexibility and scalability needed to meet the future growth requirements of the campus.

The college is also looking to add even more capability to its ID cards in the future. Some of the areas they are looking at include payroll secure transactions of payslips via PDFs on the mail system; the ability to block students using personal laptops on college networks, meeting rooms and lecture room utilisation; automation of energy systems – room automation, PCs, lights and projectors become live when the lecturer logs in; and tracking of library stock.

For more information contact John Lakin, HID Global SA, +27 (0)72 923 9426,

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