Minneapolis Campus Security Made Manageable

With integrated IP video surveillance and access control, the Barry Family Campus Corp. centrally and remotely handles operations and security for the Minneapolis Jewish Community facilities. The campus includes a school and daycare, as well as health, recreation and cultural buildings.

With 200,000 square feet of facilities on a 25-acre site, the Minneapolis-based Barry Family Campus (BFC) Corp. is a bustling hub of activity. Eight non-profit organizations inhabit the campus, as does a large 2,500-member health and fitness club. The Early Childhood Center (ECC) provides daycare for about 125 children, and a special infant center occupies a large separate wing. Active senior programs, as well as religious instruction, are other activities that take place at the BFC.

With all of these facilities, activities and individuals, an unsophisticated network and security system just would not do. “In Jewish communities today, security is much more of an issue than it used to be,” says Bruce Margolis, BFC operations director. “We are near a city and this campus needs to protect children and entire families, so security and safety are big issues of concern to our members.”

To address these challenges, the BFC leveraged its CAT-5 network infrastructure to centralize its operations and implement networked video, access control and heating-ventilating-air conditioning (HVAC) energy management system (EMS) systems.

Old VCRs, Access System Were Obsolete
The complex previously had an analog video surveillance system with VCRs and multiplexers. The video quality was sub par, and VCR tapes had to be changed every three days, making video management difficult.

“Trying to pluck any information from the tapes was so hard – it took hours to find anything,” says Margolis. “If you could find anything, it was worthless. Likewise, our old access control system was no longer supported by the vendor. The entire security system was a mess hanging by a thread.”

To upgrade the system, Margolis called on Minneapolis-based Paragon Solutions Group. The integrator assisted Margolis and his staff in assessing the old system to determine what could be salvaged and what needed to be replaced. The local fire marshal also provided input.

Margolis considered installing all new networked solutions, but he didn’t have the budget. Instead, he determined it would be wise to keep the analog Panasonic cameras that were still working. Paragon Solutions then implemented a hybrid system with Axis encoders, converting the analog video to digital feed into the Milestone management software.

A separate V-LAN for security was created that can expand over time. As the analog cameras reach their end of life, BFC is adding network cameras, including pan/tilt/zoom, megapixel or future camera technology that will meet the campus’ needs.

“The goal was to upgrade the system platform,” says Todd Vojta, president of Paragon Solutions. “Every agency using the campus had security requests, and I realized we needed an approach that could be managed flexibly in phases, to grow and upgrade over time. For example, the art gallery wanted extra security with both surveillance and access control, so we can just put a new camera in there to detect motion and send alerts if there’s activity at night.”

Users Keep Existing Access Control Cards
Card access was another side of the transition. The existing HID cards were integrated into the new Paxton Access networked system. “Users kept their same cards and couldn’t see we had upgraded the entire system to the Paxton Net2 software, which is also integrated with the Milestone IP video,” explains Vojta.

Currently, there are readers on doors for internal zones like an office block, the infant care center, and three main entrances for off-hours control. A dozen other doors are monitored for other events. The new video system records when doors open and tracks the movement of people, including BFC’s 750 access cardholders. All of this activity is managed by the Net2 system.

“The Net2 reports tell me who was here, when and by groups,” says Margolis. “For example, I can sort to see a list of just the family members who have access cards. The event log is great to share with the agencies as a management tool on their membership and personnel activities, too. In the access interface, I can simply click on the camera icon next to a listed access event to see the related video.”

He can also easily make a matrix of users vs. time zones vs. access levels vs. door locations with the access software. His staff can cross-reference data with the activity scheduling program and video from the cameras at each door.

The fitness club has nearly 2,500 family memberships with separate cards that can be combined for both access and ID control. The access control software has the ability to print information from its database, including photos of the members and IDs, in order to ramp up the security even more.

The video can verify the identity of the persons using the access control system, preventing unauthorized individuals who lost a card from using it.

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