Seamless Integration - Designed to a be a state-of-theart facility for students and faculty members at Oregon State University, Austin Hall could represent one of the most unique systems integration projects within the higher education market in the United States.

Seamless Integration

Integration between event management, HR and resource-planning platforms form core of installation

Designed to a be a state-of-theart facility for students and faculty members at Oregon State University, Austin Hall could represent one of the most unique systems integration projects within the higher education market in the United States. The 100,000-square-foot building, which opened in the fall of 2014, seamlessly integrates building access control into a single data management solution that enables school officials to streamline ingress and egress, and also allows students and staff to reserve one of 21 project rooms in the facility simply by using their existing credential. In addition to the project rooms, the building features 10 classrooms, 10 conference rooms, IT closets, a four-room research suite, a mailroom and several event spaces.

To help manage access control at Austin Hall, including credentials for approximately 4,500 students each semester, Kirk Wydner, operating systems network analyst for the College of Business, and his team chose to deploy Vanderbilt Industries’ Security Management System (SMS). However, this would not be an ordinary access control installation.

According to Wydner, the system, installed by their security systems integrator Chown Security, had to not only work with existing HID Global identification cards used by students across campus, but it also had to have an easy-to-access user repository.

“A key feature of Vanderbilt that really helped us was the ability to add in userdefined fields because we needed to have our own unique key,” he said.

Another key part of the SMS integration, according to Wydner, was the fact that his team could specify a set of areas within the facility and create access rules based on those sections, which allowed the system to clear the most technically demanding challenge presented by the project—integrating with the facility’s data management solution.

Interoperability with Other Software Platforms Critical

The SMS system was but one part of a larger solution installed at Austin Hall to accomplish a much more ambitious goal: to have a completely interoperable access and room reservation system. To accomplish this, Wydner and his team installed the Vanderbilt VI Connect Data Management Engine (DME). VI Connect would integrate data from SMS, along with several other enterprise software solutions employed at the facility, including an event management system from Dean Evans and an enterprise resource-planning platform from Ellucian.

“We didn’t know quite where to begin,” Wydner said. “We knew that we needed to get all of the user data—our faculty, staff members and students. We needed some way of defining who is taking a college business class and which system we were going to pull that out of, whether that’s going to be our central student repository, active directory or if we were going to go off of Salesforce.”

Wydner said the university decided the best way to bring this information together was to enter it into Salesforce. He started a separate project focused on integrating the identification numbers from the campus HID cards into their Salesforce database. Aside from that, the team also had to figure out a way to format the data from Salesforce so that it would be recognized by the Vanderbilt SMS and Dean Evans EMS solutions.

By using the VI Connect platform, students are now enrolled into SMS automatically based upon the information entered into the Ellucian ERP system. The successful integration of these systems would not have been possible, however, without some of the unique features provided by Vanderbilt SMS. SMS has a unique way of combining the access levels of students and staff members with their respective rights and privileges through a process known as nesting, which enabled the school to use the system in a way that others have not in the past.

Integrated System Provides Peace of Mind

Once the system was fully installed, Wydner and his team were provided with in-depth training by Vanderbilt, which made learning to use SMS a breeze. “The Vanderbilt team did a great job covering all of the bases and making sure we had the information down pat before handing the system over to us,” Wydner said.

Wydner said the decision to implement an automated lock system at Austin Hall saved significantly on time and manpower. Now, the school can track who had access to a room in the event anything goes missing.

A System for Future Expansion

While the deployment is still in the infancy stages, there have already been discussions with the school’s College of Engineering and the Memorial Union Building about the possibility of expanding the system to their facilities. The feedback provided by students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The main thing that our faculty and students enjoy about the integration is that they can just walk up to a project room or a meeting room, [and] tap their OSU ID on the Schlage lock. It then opens up, lets them in and it also gives them an automatic onehour reservation on the room,” Wydner said.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Security Today.

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