Securing the Open Campus
College installs advanced security technologies
- By Mitchell Kane
- Jul 01, 2015
Located in the heart of Albany,
N.Y.’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
With this in mind, The College of Saint
Rose has deployed a comprehensive safety
and security program that includes the
Vanderbilt Security Management System to
manage access to key buildings across the
Threats of Harm
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,” said 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
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,” Steelman said. 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 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
The Entire Operation
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
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.
Customizing the Solution
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,” Steelman said. “Not only did we save time
during installation, we also can update our software solution faster
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.
“The software is very stable, extremely user friendly and offers several
new features that our old software did not provide,” Steelman said.
“Because the software 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,” Steelman said. “With deeper access
to campus information, we can react faster to ensure the best protection
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,” Steelman said,
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,”
Steelman said. “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,” Steelman said. “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,” Steelman said. “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.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Security Today.