College of Saint Rose Secures Open Campus Environment
Located in the heart of Albany, New York’s capital city, The College of Saint Rose offers 4,500 students a rigorous educational experience that extends their learning beyond the campus to the vibrant urban environment in which they live. Fostering community involvement, The College of Saint Rose opens its doors to the public throughout the day, but in so doing, must be diligent in ensuring the safety and welfare of its campus members. With this in mind, The College of Saint Rose has deployed a comprehensive safety and security program that includes Vanderbilt Security Management System to manage access to key buildings across the 48-acre campus.
No campus is immune from threats of crime, violence and other disruptive behaviors. To ensure that every possible precaution is taken to protect the campus community, The College employs a highly visible uniform patrol and has installed the most advanced security technologies available, including a 400-camera surveillance network and an access control system. However, the existing access control solution did not pass The College’s new requirements for campus lockdown and had several software glitches that caused other performance issues. “As more buildings were added, we began experiencing more performance issues with the software,” explained Tara Steelman, One Card System Administrator at The College of Saint Rose. For example, buildings would not open or close when scheduled to and cards would open doors that they were not programmed to. According to Steelman, however, the biggest problem occurred during campus lockdowns when some buildings wouldn’t lock at all and some cards could still be used to gain access to unauthorized buildings. “The old system was antiquated, unstable and not very user-friendly.”
The College of Saint Rose began looking for a more reliable solution to improve their response in an emergency situation. From a technology standpoint, the new solution had to work seamlessly with The College’s existing campus administration systems, since the ID cards are used to manage meal plans, printing, library usage, account information and bus passes, in addition to building access. “The new access control platform needed to pull together all the data from our disconnected systems to help us secure the campus as effectively as possible,” stated Steelman. On the recommendation of Tutela, a provider of integrated security solutions and services, The College of Saint Rose selected the Vanderbilt SMS solution. “We selected Vanderbilt SMS because it easily integrated with our existing infrastructure, is easy to use, and delivers the reliability and performance we need in all security situations.”
Tutela, which won The College of Saint Rose business against three other partners because of their exceptional integrated system design capabilities and strong references, installed the Vanderbilt SMS on time and without any change orders. “Tutela has been selling and servicing Vanderbilt SMS systems for more than ten years so we knew they would do an excellent job designing, installing, and supporting our system,” noted Steelman.
The College of Saint Rose has 141 HID proximity readers installed across the main campus and in several buildings off campus to provide authorized access to 11,000 cardholders. Two users have full rights to the solution with 11 others having limited access based on job responsibilities. Steelman manages the entire operation from one of 13 workstations. Vanderbilt SMS currently integrates with The College’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and housing management and ID badging systems.
Vanderbilt strategic partner SwiftData Technology, a customized data management solution provider, customized The College’s solution to ensure that relevant information could be passed from the ERP, housing, and ID badging systems to the Vanderbilt SMS access control database. The new platform was installed during the fall semester under an extremely tight timeline. The team also had to overcome installation issues left over from the previous system. “We had very few disruptions during installation, mostly it was smooth, swift and painless,” commented Steelman. “Not only did we save time during installation, we can now also update our software solution faster than before.”
Steelman and her team have found Vanderbilt SMS very easy to use. Security officers make the most of the solution’s rich feature-set, which includes unlimited reporting, detailed report scheduling, manual and automatic overrides, and a programmable flash for downloads and firmware updates. “Vanderbilt SMS software is very stable, extremely user friendly and offers several new features that our old software did not provide,” noted Steelman. “Because Vanderbilt SMS is so intuitive, we have seen a reduction in the amount of time needed to program access identities and policies at the beginning of each semester.”
One of The College’s main goals with the new solution was to improve data management across its campus-wide systems to improve efficiencies. Providing better access to more information in near real-time, the Vanderbilt platform has allowed The College to do just that. “I can easily get to the data I need when I need it, update the system on the fly and track historical data,” stated Steelman. “With deeper access to campus information, we can react faster to ensure the best protection possible.”
According to Steelman, Vanderbilt SMS has had a noticeable impact on security levels at The College. “I believe we will be able to increase the security of campus buildings by 100 percent when the system is fully functional,” asserted Steelman, who also expects a reduction in misuse and other disruptive behaviour associated with the access cards. “Vanderbilt SMS is much more reliable compared to our prior investment so I am confident that we will see a marked reduction in unacceptable behavior.” Steelman is also certain that they can react much faster — and more successfully — to lock down the campus in an emergency situation.
The College of Saint Rose has also gained several valuable business benefits since deployment. “The Vanderbilt solution was less expensive than the two other technologies we considered and will scale more cost-effectively as we grow,” confirmed Steelman. “We expect to achieve a long-term return-on-investment based on the reliability and stability of the Vanderbilt products.”
The College has also been able to reduce the man-hours needed to manage data across all platforms. “Vanderbilt SMS is far more efficient than our previous solution, saving my team a lot of time in administration and maintenance,” said Steelman. “As a single-source solution that integrates so easily with our other systems, Vanderbilt SMS will certainly help us cut down on support time and costs.”
Impressed with Vanderbilt SMS and the company’s support team, The College of Saint Rose plans to add new features as it expands across campus, including the Vanderbilt Guest Pass System, ID Badging and complete integration with its video surveillance platform. “Our strength as a college can be measured in part by our ability to respond in an emergency situation, so we remain fully committed to providing the safest learning environment possible,” concluded Steelman. “With Vanderbilt SMS, we are confident that we can respond quickly and effectively in any situation to ensure the safety of our students, staff and visitors.”