Westpark is one of Ireland's most successful high-tech business parks, and is scheduled for further major expansion in the near future. The campus has been designed from the outset to meet the highest expectations of cutting-edge global organizations in the technology sector. Nowhere are the expectations of these organizations higher than in the area of security.
For this reason, Sirus Engineering Systems of Dublin, the main contractor for building automation on the site, worked in conjunction with security system specialist, Seakel Communications, to carry out a thorough survey of all available electronic access control systems. Together they decided that security integrated system from Siemens Building Technologies was the best suited for this demanding and prestigious application.
"A critical factor in choosing the integrated solution was, as the name suggests, its potential for integration with other services and systems, such as surveillance, fire building management systems and other automated systems already in place," said Sean Kelly, MD of Seakel Communications. "Of course integration is a key requirement, but the modular design of the system makes it easy to adapt to meet the needs of individual tenants within the Westpark campus, and ensures that the investment is future-proofed", Kelly added.
The decision to deploy the solution also took account of the high levels of security and system availability which form the backbone of the system architecture. If their connection to the server is interrupted, the system's controllers communicate directly with each other to ensure that the installation remains operational. Automatic backup and restoration of the system database is a standard feature, which protects the integrity of the system along with its critical information.
The 40-acre Westpark Shannon campus will feature more than1 million square feet of Grade A office accommodation. Already three of the planned seven buildings are completed with tenants in place. Each of these buildings is equipped with an integrated access control system with intelligent controllers and a PC-based server. Currently the systems in each building operate independently, but the next building planned for the site will house a central security control room to which all of the systems will be networked.
The systems control internal doors, which are equipped with card readers, and entry turnstiles, each of which has its own card reader. Card readers are also provided adjacent to entrance bollards for controlled entry to the car park areas out-of-hours. This allows authorized members of staff to gain access even when the buildings are normally closed. The system uses contactless dual technology Mifare smart cards to operate the readers within the buildings and throughout the campus precinct.
An important benefit of these cards is their versatility. Some of the cards in use at Westpark have, for example, been specially programmed to allow easy access to the building for wheelchair users. These users simply scan their cards in the normal way and doors open automatically for them. Therefore, unlike many other systems, there is no need for separate remote controls for disabled access.
The Mifare cards can also be used by staff in cashless vending systems, such as when they purchase food or beverages or buy meals in the site restaurant.
For the most sensitive areas on the site, the Seakel engineers have configured Siemens integrated system to provide dual custody door control. With this arrangement, a door can only be opened if two authorized cards are presented to the reader within a ten-second time period.
Another available feature is the guard tour function, which requires the site security guards to present their passes to readers in a predetermined sequence and within predetermined time limits as they patrol the buildings during non-business hours.
"The integrated systems were very easy to configure and commission, thanks to the flexible yet intuitive graphical interface that is used for both configuration and for day-to-day operation", said Kelly, who added "the system software also includes a powerful report generator, which has made it easy to develop the various reports needed by the different tenants throughout the Westpark campus."
Reports that have already been set up to include building roll calls, staff attendance reports organized on a per-company basis, and invalid card reports that detail any attempts made to gain entry to areas with cards that are not valid for those areas.
Because work on the Westpark Shannon scheme is still in progress, the implementation of full integration between integrated access control systems and other building services is still on-going.
The integrated system has unique functionality that integrates with a building's vital systems, such as fire alarms. The system at Westpark is linked to the site's fire alarm installation and is arranged so that, in the event of a fire alarm activation, the access control system immediately unlocks all doors except for specially designated doors in high security areas. The systems also automatically print a building roll call, which makes it easy to check that everyone who was present in the building has been able to exit safely.
Future integration plans at Westpark include links with surveillance systems, so that, for example, images of persons attempting to gain access to a building or to specific areas using cards that are not authorized for that purpose are automatically captured. Links with the building automation system are also under consideration and it is anticipated that these will allow the automatic control of heating and lighting to maximize energy efficiency without adversely affecting the comfort of the building occupants.
"The integrated installation is already doing a great job at Westpark Shannon," said Sean Kelly. "Both the landlord and tenants are very happy with its performance and with its reliability. One of the best features of the system is its flexibility and, because it has been designed with integration in mind, the possibilities are virtually endless. We are confident that the system will make it easy for us to keep pace with the needs of even the most demanding of Westpark's tenants for a very long time to come."