Local access control company makes headway in tough US security market

July 2004 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Since Impro Technologies opened its offices in Tampa, Florida, USA, some four years ago, it has been tough to break into the fiercely patriotic, relatively closed market. Although the growth was consistent it was always hampered by the lack of local reference sites and brand awareness. In the last 12 months all the hard work has started to pay dividends with some high profile tenders being awarded to Impro dealers. The most recent being the Board of Education in Albany, Georgia.

As a result of increasing crime in surrounding areas, the Dougherty County Board of Education in Albany wanted to install an access control system that would secure its school buildings, protect the children and teachers and prevent theft and vandalism. The school system consisted of 34 main locations which included the main Administration building in downtown Albany.

To protect the children the Administration wanted to secure all perimeter doors and install CCTV surveillance so that all persons entering and exiting the building could be recorded. It also required cameras in public areas such as corridors and playgrounds.

It was decided that each student would have an ID badge. The student's personal information would be stored in a central database along with that of staff and contractors. The Administration wanted access to this database from any one of the 34 locations, which are all linked together by an existing WAN.

To achieve this, each student would initially be supplied a PVC credit card without any proximity chip installed. The card would have the student's identification details printed on it for the first phase of the project. All teachers and contractors would also be supplied a PVC credit card type tag, but in their case the card would contain a proximity chip and antenna. 20 000 student cards and 5000 proximity teacher/contractor tags were supplied.

ImproNet, along with the fully integrated iNetDVR, provided the surveillance and recording functionality required at the various locations. To begin the project, the school board agreed to secure four of the most problematic schools and the main Administration building which meant a hardware installation at five out of the 34 sites. In addition, they wanted computer network access from each of the schools. This allows authorised persons to edit the student's database therefore each school had to have one ImproNet Quicktag software module installed. Web cameras are used to capture the student ID photo. These modules were linked directly to the central database so at any time all schools can simultaneously edit student records including adding images. They can also send the cards for printing across the network to an ID card printer located at the central administration computer. (The printer used is a high speed Datacard printer.)

Each location chose to use the ImproX Metal harsh environment readers (MHR) because of their styling and robust enclosure. These were installed at all perimeter doors at each of the five chosen locations. Each site had a minimum of one ImproX Advanced Controller (AC), one ImproNet Engine software module and one ImproNet Quicktag software module. All the software modules linked across the WAN to the central database server running the Firebird SQL database.

The iNetDVR CCTV system consists of fixed dome cameras that are located on the secure side at all doors where card readers were installed and focused on the entrance. The system was configured such that when a tag is used to gain access at any of the doors the DVR records the respective cameras footage with that transaction. The iNetDVRs at each of the five pilot sites are connected to the school computer network and linked to the ImproNet access control system's engine via a seamless socket connection. Certain employees also have direct access to the DVRs through the use of the iNet Viewer software used across the WAN.

It is anticipated that in the future, a central monitoring station will be constructed. This station will need access to all 34 sites in order to monitor alarms and view camera images. In the interim ImproNet's Graphics User Interface software with the integrated iNetDVR facility has been provided to the individual sites to perform this task.

The customer provided AUTOCAD files that were then edited and converted to JPG and captured into the central database using ImproNet's Graphics Designer. The relevant readers and camera icons were placed at their actual installed locations, as the icons represent the actual hardware all the related functionality of the respective units is available through the software. Authorised users can log on and by simply clicking on a camera they will be able to view live video footage or use one of the search options or, by selecting a reader they can monitor the locations or remotely open the door. If an alarm is linked to a camera the respective camera will automatically pop up on the Graphic User Interface when the alarm occurs, up to four cameras can be linked to a single alarm.

To ensure that the public and students were aware of the CCTV monitoring video monitors were installed in the main entrances of the buildings showing the various camera images sequentially. This was achieved using 21" colour video monitors connected back to the individual sites control room and a Pelco CM 6700 video Matrix is used to do the switching of video signals. The iNetDVRs are connected to the Pelco Matrix using the DVR's serial port. The iNetDVR software has been configured to send instructions to the Matrix of what cameras need to be sent to the public monitors, and when. This sequential switching can be modified at any time with a simple software configuration change at the iNetDVR.

The client has also decided to look into procuring the fully integrated Amano Time and Attendance software that will allow accurate time recording of staff across the network using this new system.

The scope and scale of this project has lifted Impro Technologies to new heights in the USA and already the interest in the integrated system has skyrocketed. The future looks bright for this South African company in the land of red, white and blue, and the staff at Impro USA are preparing themselves for a bumper 2004.

For more information contact Barry East, Impro Technologies, 031 700 1087, [email protected]


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