University Of Missouri Streamlines Access Control System

The University of Missouri’s Residential Life Buildings complex has a unique combination of features for a campus security system: state-of-the-art technology, user-friendliness and the cost-cutting ability to be installed and maintained in-house.

A recent access control/security software upgrade, combined with equipment installations as new buildings come online, now provides more than 6,700 students living in 24 on-campus Residential Life buildings with a higher level of security level than most campuses, without compromising convenience.

In an emergency, this can be critical. If a campus threat emerges, just a few mouse clicks at the access control workstation can completely secure a building within seconds to prevent outsiders from entering. More and more universities are seeing the value of this functionality in the wake of recent incidents at Virginia Tech University and Northern Illinois University. Federal buildings also take advantage of such technology. When a police chase and outdoor shooting incident occurred a few hundred yards from Capitol Hill during the congressional confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Capitol’s security system briefly secured the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Mizzou’s Residential Life buildings access control system has streamlined residence hall security, according to Tammy Old, an administrative assistant who oversees the Residential Life buildings’ access control with a Matrix Systems Frontier equipped computer workstation.

Matrix Systems equipment has secured the exterior doors of the Residential Life buildings since 1991. Now recent software upgrades have increased compatibility and user-friendliness, says Old. For example, when the housing director’s office sends Old new student names, ID numbers and residence hall assignments, she can easily download the information into the access control software without compatibility issues.

Matrix Systems has also improved the access control system’s student purge/restoration procedure. Unlike non-academic businesses that purge just a handful of names periodically, Mizzou must purge and restore students every semester to accommodate frequent student living quarter changes. Rita Houg, Mizzou’s assistant director of conferences and building services, asked Matrix Systems to customize its purge function for quicker expedition. Matrix responded, making the process several times faster and offering this option to all of Matrix’s university accounts.

Houg said she admires Matrix Systems’ customer service, and that she frequently sees her requested customizations appear in subsequent Frontier software releases.

Frontier’s increased user-friendliness is also evident in special events security. Within minutes, Old can reschedule exterior doors to remain locked but accessible with ID cards during special events such as spring break or Saturday football games.

Access rejection is another important consideration for quality control and student support. Mizzou’s access control system records all access attempts in case data is needed. Old and her staff are on 24-hour call to respond to issues. If a student reports a card reading problem, the software can retrieve historical records for Old’s review so she can determine whether the rejection was due to access exclusion or an ID card/card reader malfunction. The system allows remote access, so when Old receives rejected card holder incidents -- at any time of day or night -- she can connect to the on-campus access control workstation via the internet to investigate and remedy the situation. The campus police office also has a Matrix Systems workstation/software for monitoring doors, student access/rejections, etc.

One of the most valuable features of Mizzou’s access control system is that it makes it very time- and cost-effective to add new facilities. Old can easily program new access control hardware to connect to the workstation, using 24/7 back-up support from Matrix Systems’ customer support department, if necessary. New installations are also cost effective from a hardware standpoint. While some access control systems are proprietary and can only be installed by manufacturers or their resellers, Mizzou’s maintenance department has the choice of using its in-house staff or Matrix Systems’ installation services when new buildings require additional Matrix hardware, according to Stan Freeman, Mizzou’s superintendant of maintenance -- Residential Life.

“On our first building years ago we used an outside installation contractor, but we have since done it ourselves because it’s a very easy system to install,” Freeman said. “Plus, there’s always a shorter learning curve to troubleshooting a system if you install it yourself.”

Several years ago Mizzou converted from modem- to Ethernet-based access control systems. Now the university can avoid the expense of installing building controllers in every new building, and can instead install the Matrix Subsystem Gateway, which is an IP-based alternative that is considerably less expensive.

The university realizes additional savings because Matrix System card readers are compatible with equipment from the university’s long-time door strikes/locks provider, the Folger-Adam division of Southern Folger Detention Equipment Co. of San Antonio, Texas.

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