SituationThe Greater Berks Development Fund, owner of the Gateway Building in Reading, PA, was experiencing frequent failures and down time with a legacy access control system that was originally installed in the early 1990’s. The Gateway Building is a five story, 100,000 square foot commercial office building, which is occupied by a variety of Federal Government Agencies and private sector tenants, some of whom require public access during specific time windows. The existing system was obsolete and no longer supported by the manufacturer. It was in need of replacement with a system that offered updated technology, reliability and flexibility.
AnalysisThe Greater Berks Development Fund was looking for a cost-effective solution that could re-use as much of the existing system infrastructure as possible. Other considerations affecting total cost of ownership were also evaluated by the Owner, including licensing fees, expandability, ease of management and end-user training. Since this facility houses several government agencies, a large driver to the solution needed to include future integration of the FIPS 201 PIV standard. An additional consideration to the approach on this project was that the building is occupied during and after normal business hours and required reliability to avoid disruption in security of day to day operations. The system also controls public access to the elevators during specific windows of time. Furthermore, the building owner wanted to redirect all public visitors to the building’s main entrance and restrict use of side entrance to tenant employees with credentials, handicap visitors and delivery personnel.
SolutionIn order to re-use as much of the existing cabling as possible, ETI selected the access control hardware to match the existing wiring topology. Over years of tenant fit outs and renovations, a significant amount of wiring and hardware had been abandoned but left in the system. ETI identified and removed all old and abandoned cabling which caused clutter and confusion in troubleshooting problems that occurred with the operation and maintenance of the system. All of the remaining wiring was neatly tagged and dressed. ETI developed custom system retrofit procedures that included re-badging all personnel so that no door was left unsecured or inaccessible by credential during the entire installation. ETI also integrated an intercom system with the access control system to allow handicap visitors who arrived at the side door to communicate with the Security guard’s cell phone. The Security guard has the ability to remotely unlock and activate the automatic door openers at the side entrance via the cell phone to assist those visitors. Handicap employees can also gain entrance by presenting an access card and activating the handicap automatic door paddle. Key personnel were trained in the operation of the software and maintenance of the database, including programming door and holiday schedules. The new access system is integrated with the fire alarm system to ensure compliance with emergency evacuation requirements. As a follow-up, ETI provides a comprehensive testing and maintenance program that also includes the fire alarm and life safety system at the Gateway Building.