Mystic Aquarium Ups Their Security with Keri Systems

Site Description
Mystic Aquarium in located on the scenic shoreline of Long Island Sound in Mystic, Connecticuit, the location for the popular movie Mystic Pizza starring Julia Roberts. Originally named Mystic Marinelife Aquarium, it was founded in 1973 to serve as a living laboratory and major public exhibit, highlighting some of the most intriguing species in the world. The aquarium is now part of a non-profit organization (Sea Research Foundation) and generates its funds through ticket sales and grants. Their mission is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.

Among the many attractions, the aquarium houses a large number of fish exhibits, a one acre Beluga Whale pool, a Titanic exhibit, a Penguin house, several theaters, and a sea lion show. Over 700,000 annual visitors are drawn to Mystic Aquarium's charming animals for hands on fun.

The Situation
Because it is a public facility that houses a significant marine life population Mystic Aquarium was in need of more sophisticated control of access than traditional methods. With more than 250 employees, 300 volunteers, 12 interns, and a host of contractors and vendors all working on site, locks and keys were no longer viable.

Aquarium officials wanted to electronically control access to approximately 50 doors in order to eliminate the costs, hassles, and risks associated with mechanical keys. The goal was not only to make it easier to manage employee and volunteer access privileges, but also the vendors and contractors who are granted temporary access rights. Additionally, photo IDs add another layer of security enabling staff to quickly identify individuals as interns, volunteers or contractors.

The Solution
As part of their process in looking for a solution, aquarium facilities staff did some online research as well as consulted with the locksmith (Dave Vessels at AA Lock and Key) who had been servicing the facility. Although they looked at other systems offerings, the research turned up Keri as a strong option, and Bob also recommended Keri as he had installed systems in the past. Additionally, the software's ease of use, the price point, and the pre-sale support they received from the local Keri sales rep as well as the integrator who was proposing the project (Fire Alarm Specialty and Design) all were factors in the decision.

Because the aquarium has a number of buildings with an established network for running their operations, Keri's NXT hardware was chosen because it is TCP/IP-ready and was easy to deploy on their network. Clusters of NXT controllers are located around the facility and located in utility closets along with other electronic infrastructure and are connected directly to the aquarium's Ethernet.

The Solution
The system took about 4 weeks to install, with very little disruption to the public or workers. FASD worked closely with the aquarium's IT department to ensure a smooth installation and commissioning of the system. Afterward, staff was trained by Keri's local sales rep, Bob Stosse of Titus Management Group, and are now self sufficient, though occasionally have system use questions that are answered by FASD or Bob.

The system is managed via Keri's Doors.NET software by employees from the Facilities Department's Safety & Security division.

Results
Aquarium Safety and Facilities administrators are very happy with the system performance and the support they have received. The system operates flawlessly, and the staff are pleased at the flexibility it provides. An additional benefit realized is the ease at which contractors and vendors can be issued temporary passes that expire automatically at a predetermined date and time.

According to Tom Thompson, Director of Safety & Security, "We have a special responsibility here at Mystic Aquarium. Not only are our security goals concerned with protecting the physical campus and providing a safe environment for our guests but we house a wonderful collection of marine mammals, penguins and over 350 species of fish, invertebrates and reptiles.

There are special considerations associated with creating a safe home for these animals. Keri systems helped us reach these security goals. Installation was painless, support has been great and the system is dynamic yet manageable."

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