New UConn Medical Arts & Research Building has effective security technology
- By Beverly Vigue, AHC/CDC
- Mar 01, 2006
FOR its new Medical Arts & Research Building, the University of Connecticut standardized on a security system by using a simplified approach that combines after-hours electronic perimeter access control with interior mechanical locking. By effectively managing the access to the building itself, a less-complicated keying system that still provides the desired level of security can be used inside.
New Facility Combines Related Services
The UConn Health Center is situated on a 162-acre campus in Farmington, Conn., and encompasses 35 buildings totaling more than 2 million square feet. The newest building on campus is the recently opened Medical Arts & Research Building, a 99,000 square foot, four-story structure that focuses on musculoskeletal research and outpatient surgery.
Its first floor includes rehabilitation services, physical therapy and a diagnostic imaging suite, as well as building infrastructure such as HVAC and electrical services. Occupying the second floor is a joint venture with an outside provider that provides same-day surgery and ancillary support. The third floor incorporates clinical space for orthopedics, rheumatology, neurology and osteoporosis programs. Doctors who perform same-day surgery have offices there, including their academic offices, as part of the teaching hospital. The fourth floor houses the Department of Orthopedics and includes academic and research facilities.
Gathering all these entities under a single roof helps minimize the time doctors spend between seeing patients, performing surgery and doing office and laboratory work.
Electronic Access Control Secures the Building
Although the facility is open to the public during normal hours of operation, access at other times is governed by proximity cards. The card readers operate electrified exit devices, which provide safe emergency egress and access control after hours. During normal hours of operation, the concealed vertical rod devices are retracted or "dogged down" electrically.
One benefit of the card access system is that it provides an audit trail record of everyone who enters the building.
"If Dr. Joe Smith opens a fourth floor door at 1:04 a.m. on Saturday morning, it will show up on the audit trail," said locksmith Bruce McPherson.
This provides both accountability and traceability if any problems occur.
Everest Primus cylinders are used to provide higher security for key overrides on exterior doors, as well as several interior doors equipped with Schlage CM and PRO series electronic access controls.
"Without my signature," McPherson said, "no one gets a key blank to cut a key for an exterior door, so that keeps unauthorized people out of the building. I know that if I've cut six keys to a door, those are the only six that exist."
He points out that only the health center's police and fire departments have keys for the exterior doors, while all other authorized users have cards that provide an audit trail.
Schlage PRO series manually programmable locks are used on some interior doors to rooms, such as the locker rooms and janitor closets, that need to be readily accessible, but where traffic still needs to be controlled. The PRO series locks are standalone, microprocessor-based, battery-powered locks that make it easy to add new access codes and delete old ones in seconds via the keypad. In these cases, they eliminate the need to provide keys to authorized personnel.
Instead of hard wiring for some interior locations, such as laboratories, computer-managed Schlage CM locks are installed. These standalone locks are easy to install without hard wiring and do not require power supplies or controllers. They are easy to program with a PDA or laptop computer, and they use the same credentials as the exterior doors.
Keying Interior Doors for Security
With the exterior secured and audit trail information captured, it is easy to find out who was in the building at a particular time. This minimizes the need for strict access control measures within most of the building, yet the facility also maintains effective key control to prevent unauthorized duplication.
Most of the interior doors are protected by mortise locks. Interchangeable cores make it easy to change locks whenever necessary.
"It's a D-restricted keyway, not the standard Everest, so you have to be a registered facility to order key blanks," Mc Pherson said. "It gives us the ability to control how many keys are out there."
McPherson said that although his title is "locksmith," he does not function in a similar manner as locksmiths at most facilities. Instead of reporting to facilities management, he works for the health center's Public Safety Division. While most locksmiths handle exit devices, door closers and other forms of door hardware, he only handles devices that take a key, both conventional and electronic.
In addition, he develops and maintains the keying schedules for the entire health center and also administrates the databases for the card access systems. Along with this, he is responsible for maintaining the hardware and much of the software associated with the card access, intrusion detection, infant protection and CCTV systems, and he is actively involved in the design of new systems, from both a hardware standpoint and how the system will be used and integrated with existing systems.
When he joined UConn in 1999, McPherson said, the low-bid process had resulted in a lack of standardization between the 35 buildings that make up the health center. Credentials, software programs and hardware often varied from building to building. He said he has reduced access controls to three systems and is working to standardize further, using proximity cards. The new building uses the Ingersoll-Rand's LockLink access control management software, which manages the CM series locks.