Scalable and Cost Effective
Control console solves problems at Brunswick school
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jul 01, 2016
THE CITY OF BRUNSWICK, MAINE, LOCATED 26 MILES
NORTHEAST OF PORTLAND ALONG THE ATLANTIC
COAST, IS A VIBRANT AND HIGHLY LIVABLE COMMUNITY.
IT IS THE HOME OF BOWDOIN COLLEGE, FAMOUS FOR
ITS MANY GRADUATES AND FACULTY INCLUDING HENRY
WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
AND PROFESSOR CALVIN ELLIS STOWE, HUSBAND OF
AUTHOR HARRIET BEECHER STOWE. THE TOWN’S PUBLIC
SCHOOL SYSTEM, OVERSEEN BY THE BRUNSWICK
SCHOOL DEPARTMENT, INCLUDES TWO ELEMENTARY
SCHOOLS, A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL AND A HIGH SCHOOL.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Maintaining and/or upgrading physical security systems is a challenge
for schools across the country, and the Brunswick School Department
is no different. Budgets are tight and changes, whether modestly
affordable or very expensive, fall entirely on the local community.
An original door control system, installed at Harriet Beecher Stowe
School, was limited in its functionality and was frequently in need of
repair. Visitors to the school had to be manually buzzed in from a wallmounted
control console located in the front office. Alarms were activated
on other exterior doors when propped open or for unauthorized
egress. Staff had to manually check all doors at the end of the day to
ensure they were locked. Any record keeping of alarms, off-hour
entries and so on, if done, was manual.
While the safety and security of the students, staff, visitors and facilities
was primary, parents liked to be able to enter the school whenever
they wished and without any hindrance. Overall, they did not see the
need for a new visitor management door control system to be installed
either at the Harriet Beecher Stowe School or at the other three schools.
INSTALLING AN UPGRADE
Based on the increasing number of incidents at schools across the country and the desire to increase measures that would ensure the
safety of Brunswick’s students and staff, Facilities Management was
able to secure funding to replace the existing control console with the
Dortronics 7600 control console. With the new console in place on the
desk, staff could more easily see the clearly labeled names of each door
and colored LEDs indicated the status of each. Opening any secured
door causes the LED to flash red and the alert sounder to be activated.
The design of the console is compact and easy to operate.
Doors are quickly and conveniently locked and unlocked and alarm
conditions verified. Per a special request by the school, the console also
includes a panic button, custom designed by Dortronics. The mushroom-
shaped button, when pressed, returns all doors controlled by the
console to the locked position, regardless of the position of the individual
door control switches.
As budget allowed, the control console solution was installed in the
other three schools and integrated with the access control system. The
consoles trigger inputs of local door power supplies which then activate
the respective door’s locking device power output. Each trigger
input is also tied to the access control system that uses one central
controller that talks to other door control nodes over the school network.
This allows management of doors in four physically separate
school buildings. The integrated system also allows facilities management
the capability to monitor after-hours access and egress activity,
generate reports and remotely lock or unlock a door.
“The Dortronics solution offered us everything that we were looking
for and needed in an integrated system,” said Paul Caron, director of
facilities and transportation, Brunswick School Department. “There
was a lot of flexibility and we were able to design what we needed now
with the ability to expand as we grow. Parents have really come to
understand the security that the system provides.”
The system was installed by system integrator Building Controls
LLC, of Lewiston, Maine. In addition to the Dortronics solution, the
security system includes an NVR storage system, an HDD controller,
an integration gateway and surveillance cameras, all transmitting on a
“We had used the same consoles for another school district and were
very pleased with the way they operate, their ease of use and their longevity,”
said Dave Gideon, president of Building Controls, LLC. “With the
new system in place, the staff can spend less time on
door checking and manual reports. Instead, they
can spend more productive time planning, or working
with students, with the knowledge that the environment
is safer than before.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.