Increased Security and Ease of Accessibility in a Central London College

26.04.2011 - The City of Westminster College in the heart of London is well into an ambitious program of redevelopment and refurbishment that, since January 2011, has been able to start support...

The City of Westminster College in the heart of London is well into an ambitious program of redevelopment and refurbishment that, since January 2011, has been able to start supporting their education and training programs with state-of-the-art facilities.

The main element of the program is the comprehensive redevelopment of the College's former Paddington Green site to provide a state-of-the-art new main campus. It opened in January 2011, and now offers an outstanding teaching and learning environment within an exceptional seven-storey building that is a flagship for Further Education in London and the region. At £102 million, the ambitious scheme is the highest value single site redevelopment agreed by the Learning and Skills Council (now replaced by the Young People's Learning Agency and the Skills Funding Agency) and their 86 % grant is one of the largest financial contributions to the project.

The new campus has been designed by award-winning international architect's Schmidt Hammer Lassen, who have been responsible for a number of outstanding, innovative public and private buildings in Norway, Sweden, Greenland and China, as well as in their homeland in Denmark. Set in the center of North Westminster, the new campus features a large atrium at the heart of the building, with accessible roof terraces. It provides state-of-the-art facilities including specialist science labs, a large sports hall and a wide range of workshops, as well as offering community access to new facilities such as a 150-seat theater and a public café overlooking St Mary's Gardens.

The College offers around 250 full and part-time courses to over 7,000 students each year so to make the new building a success much though had to be given to the design and implementation of a robust security plan that would allow for free flow of traffic throughout the building while safely and securely controlling who could access what, where and when. To do this the College approached GES Security Services with a remit to provide a cutting edge solution for the security within the College. This proved to be quite a challenge for the company‘s design and estimating team, as Sales Manager Stephen Hastings explains.

Future Strategy
"There is no doubt that the design of the new building on the Paddington Green site is fantastic. The use of glass is extensive and the fresh modern look and wide open spaces will create a wonderful learning environment for the students. But for us the challenge was how to effectively provide a multi-faceted security solution that would not only complement the aesthetics of the building, but also meet and exceed the high level objectives expected by the College.

After a considerable period researching the available applications and products that we thought may be suitable for City of Westminster College, and working closely with the in-house facilities manager who would run the eventual system, we were able to present a security strategy that was both technologically advanced and highly cost effective. Its key aims were to utilize the impressive IT infrastructure of the building for the CCTV element, as distributed IP systems are becoming more popular with new build projects due to their minimal cabling costs compared with traditional analog systems, incorporate a traditional intruder alarm system and provide an almost keyless building with regards to the access control solution. This would not only deliver convenience of use and security for students and staff alike, but also reduce costs and increase efficiency whilst simultaneously providing a future-proof system that could grow to meet any future requirements of the college."

Cameras and Alarms
For its CCTV solution, the College wanted a flexible, scalable package that could keep pace with its growing operations while maintaining the highest level of security. The system specified by GES Security Services was a network solution using control center software. This provided the scalability and ease of use that was needed as well as image compression and transmission technology.

The 85 cameras on the system feed recordings directly into NVRs and through the use of their activity controlled frame rate will maximize the storage capacity and minimize the bandwidth usage. The move to IP has saved space and reduced infrastructure and maintenance costs as the internal network cameras will use the Power over Ethernet (PoE) capability of the IT Infrastructure. In contrast to this, the intruder alarm system will be installed using its own cable infrastructure, which will provide a stable platform suitable for the building.

Access Control Overview
To achieve the aim of creating an almost totally keyless environment for the Paddington Green site, the access control system selected was the Salto Virtual Network system (SVN). Stephen Hastings says "We chose this system over all others because of its unique ability to distribute card holder and system information to access controlled doors that are not cabled to any controller, which is made possible by using the card to upload and download information between on-line and off-line doors. Of the 264 access controlled doors in the new building only 21 are on-line, negating the need for power and containment at each door. This makes for a system that is not only effective but also considerably reduces the cost of ownership per door when compared with standard on-line systems."

Management of students, staff and visitors is crucial for the College and this would be the key application for the new access control system. The College's vision is to have a true multi-application smart card environment totally removing the need for traditional keys, where as required cards can be enabled for photo ID, cashless vending, canteen, library, on demand printing, use of lockers and more. To accomplish this, a highly secure and flexible access control system has been designed using off-line XS4 E9450 handle sets and locks and a mix of on-line WRM9000 wall reader units utilizing the power of the Salto Virtual Network (SVN).

This system allows the XS4 units to read, receive and write information via the College's student and staff ID cards. Since most access related information is kept encrypted on these cards, the wall readers are able to update and receive information from the cards at any time. So not only is the system easy to use, but its clever functionality also provides 90% of the benefits of a fully on line access control system at the cost of a stand alone system.

The ‘smart' ID cards build up ‘on-card‘ audit trails through normal use giving the College complete control over access and enabling the movement of students, staff and visitors to be tracked through both the off-line and on-line parts of the system if required. This enables a complete access profile of each individual to be established and updated as necessary at the up date wall readers. It can also program keys to allow access to specific rooms or areas within the College for selected periods only, with the doors auto locking at pre-specified times as required. And if key security is breached due to the loss of a key card, it can be instantly deleted from the system without the need or cost of re-keying or changing locks - saving the College time and money.

High-satisfaction Technology
The City of Westminster College is a very forward thinking environment and, with the incorporation of the latest CCTV, alarm and access control technology into their new campus facilities, they have taken the necessary steps to ensure they will be able to achieve far reaching and long lasting control over their security requirements.

Key operational benefits met by the technology include a more flexible and reliable system for a lower total cost of ownership, the benefits of an almost totally keyless environment and thanks to its Salto SVN system, the ability to manage up to 64,000 users and doors in a single system if required, making the college a secure and accessible environment for all its users.


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