University of Hull invests in Genetec Security Center to upgrade safety

University of Hull invests in Genetec Security Center to upgrade safety

Business Challenge

In 1928, the Duke of York (George VI) laid the foundation stone for the University College Hull, which later opened with 39 students. Today, the once humble College has become the University of Hull, offering over 2000 courses to 20,000 students across two campuses, namely Hull and Scarborough. Its main Hull campus includes over 30 separate academic and administration buildings, with recently-built residential halls and other student amenities, located 3 miles away in Cottingham.

Over five years ago, the University had invested in a new Genetec Omnicast IP video surveillance system to manage over 165 cameras on campus. However, in more recent years, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Facilities departments began realizing the limitations of its mag-striped access control system. Not only was the technology outdated, but acquiring replacement parts was becoming more difficult and expensive.

Since the focus of the new equipment was on implementing an IP-based access control system, Gary Moore, University of Hull, Infrastructure Team, ICT Department spearheaded the product search. While system must-haves included an advanced feature set, scalability, integration with the Omnicast system and Active Directory, encouraging an open and secure campus lifestyle was equally important.

After a public tender was sent out, and five proposed solutions were properly assessed, the University of Hull chose Genetec Security Center, the unified security platform, which brings both Omnicast IP video surveillance and Synergis IP access control system within one easy-to-use solution.

Synergis Ensures Easy and Cost-Effective Transition to IP

Today, the University of Hull has converted a total of 99 doors to the new access control system, and the number is growing weekly. Phase one of the move to Synergis began with 49 doors in the University's most critical facilities. In order to minimize upgrade costs, the ICT team chose to implement the Synergis Master Controller (SMC), the intelligent IP controller that supports non-proprietary access control hardware.

According to Moore, "Instead of adding edge devices at each door, it was much more cost effective for us to use the SMC in areas where there were multiple doors within a building. We used four SMCs with HID Global VertX V100 modules for all 49 doors which prevented us from having to run new Cat-5 cabling to every single door for IP connectivity. Without the SMC, going IP would have been tremendously more laborious and expensive."

Another benefit of choosing Synergis and the SMC for the University of Hull has been the freedom to choose its preferred hardware. "We will never be in the same position as with our older system, where we were restricted to one vendor, locked into their offering and climbing prices and eventually faced with a rip-and-replace. We are free to choose the devices that best suit our needs," confirmed Moore.

For the University of Hull, part of benefiting from the openness was its selection of the MIFARE DESFire EV1 card technology from HID Global. This particular choice was made to achieve the highest levels of security as well as the possibility in the future to build one-card applications such cashless point-of-sale and integrated public transportation passes, amongst others.

Simplifying System User Access and Speeding up Student Enrollment

At the University of Hull, the ICT department is responsible for general maintenance and back-end system implementation whereas Security, Facilities, Human Resources and Student Administration departments are all active daily users for event management, card issuance and printing. Active Directory integration has simplified the management of employee access for the ICT team and is instrumental in ensuring all system users have correct privileges.

The Synergis access control system provides the right amount of flexibility and growth potential to help simplify the University's annual student enrollment process. Groups of over 8000 students may come in for enrollment on a given day at the beginning of each semester, with over 40 temporary workers logged into the Genetec platform at once with specific privileges to take pictures, import information and print cards.

Thanks to a custom integration with the University's student and staff records systems which was developed in-house by the ICT team using the Genetec software development kit (SDK), all information is automatically synced in real-time. This avoids duplication of entries and ensures the proper credentials are assigned to each student.

"We have set up rules where 'if the user is in this class/program, give them access to this group'," explained Moore. "Another way we have managed this is with batches. To do this, we grouped all the chemistry students' records together and selected 'import this batch' and give them all the same 'access privileges'. These features have contributed to huge time savings."

To ensure proper access to facilities, the University of Hull used Synergis' granular user access privileges to configure over 100 different cardholder groups. These are set based on building access rights but in certain instances, multiple groups exist for one building. Typically, this depends on whether they are a student or faculty, on their function, and when and where they need to go within the building.

Scaling into the Future with the Unified Platform

While the University continues to expand its access control system across its main Hull campus, the ICT team will also be looking to re-evaluate the video surveillance needs, adding more cameras in strategic locations. When the upgrade is complete, enterprise-level features such as the mobile app, the map-based interface, and visitor management will also be considered. A unique application to track student attendance is also in a trial phase. This will provide electronic tracking and report generation for student presence by leveraging the access control cards.

"Having Genetec Security Center at our university has improved the collaboration across all of our departments, helping to collectively better secure our campus. Security Center's scalability, openness and SDK has given us tremendous flexibility in many areas of our installation, and we are looking forward to bringing more effective capabilities to the forefront. We are very happy with our new platform," concluded Moore.

Infrastructure at a Glance

Security Center is managing 165 cameras from a mix of vendors and 99 doors which are equipped with either the HID Global VertX V100 Door/Reader Interface and the Synergis Master Controller, or HID Global Vertx V2000 controllers and the HID Edge Plus EV400 readers. MIFARE DESFire EV1 card technology from HID Global was chosen for the highest-levels of security. In the security office, four 24-inch flat screen monitors display nine images per screen or 12 images per screen on rotation.

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