The chosen system needed the ability to support multiple technologies and extensive integration. A university on a mission: to amalgamate data sources and centralise information management. Cardax FT will be the system that does it.
Cardax FT: the platform for rationalising a series of disparate systems across a 270 acre campus.
"We needed a system that had the potential to do everything," explains Jonathan Richardson. Cardax FT now acts as the core management system.
Seven disparate systems, tens of thousands of existing cards in circulation, new buildings requiring new systems, budget constraints. There are two approaches going forward: keep making it work, or work on a plan to centralise the system for some serious long-term efficiencies.
University of East Anglia (UEA), located just outside Norwich city centre, has more than 13,000 students studying on campus, and over 2,000 employees.
The city had donated what was the Earlham municipal golf course for the site of the campus, and traces of the fairways can still be seen around the grounds today. In 1962, Denys Lasdun was appointed as UEA's founding architect. It was Lasdun who designed the University's core buildings - the monumental Teaching Wall, the raised walkways, the central Square and the now famous ‘ziggurats'. The striking ziggurats are like none other - the student accommodation, lining the embankment, are pyramidal in shape. While the historical buildings remain, new buildings and residences have also been developed.
These developments and the increasing expectation of student accommodation acted as key drivers for a review of access on the campus.
Jonathan Richardson, Access Control Project Manager & Senior Systems Specialist for Corporate Information Systems has championed the roll out of Cardax FT for the University. From his previous position as editor for an IT publication, he relished in critiquing a system to see if it was all it was supposed to be.
"We needed a system that would give us the ability to keep using what we currently have, and create an infrastructure to be able to develop it over time to how we envisage the system one day operating," he says.
The import and export facilities have made the system ideal for combining data from a range of student, personnel and accommodation systems.
"We already had 42,000 cards in circulation - there was no way we could replace them. Cardax was chosen for its ability to work with third party card formats."
"Card data is imported/updated using the import export service with data from the Envision card production system. We additionally use data from a student system, accommodation system and a couple of bespoke databases to automatically calculate access groups - changes to access groups are again handled via the import export service. There is no way we could realistically manage the level of changes with a manual system - we rely totally on the automatic imports to add and remove access as required."
"The integration is massive, and the impact it is having in terms of pulling different information sources together is huge." Jonathan describes the system as being a "catalyst for change on how security, data storage and management across a range of systems and databases are viewed".
"The implementation has been very transparent - people are unaware of the changeovers that have taken place. The dynamic updates are now happening, and the system is probably at least four times more secure now." Jonathan mentions the difference made by the level of technical support available from the manufacturer, from the UK and even head office (based in New Zealand) dialling in when required.
Cardax FT controls a full range of devices including doors, automatic swing and slide doors, car park barriers, turnstiles and elevators. The system also facilitates electronic access for disabled flats for residents in wheelchairs. System Division functionality is used to give building owners their own portion of the system for management purposes.
For car parking, times are recorded for charging parking fees. Louis Chisholm, Transport Co-ordinator, uses the Cardax FT system on a daily basis. When asked how she finds the system Louis replies, "I love it. I can check all the things I need to without asking anyone else." She uses the reporting to check for people tailgating, and checking any enquiries for specific cards.
From parking to the library: students enter the library through turnstiles. Reports on usage patterns have been used to justify access funding to promote the resource. The audit trail has been called on for incidents occurring in the library that have put staff safety at risk, and even disputes on the return of books.
Research laboratories and chemical stores rely on the system; previously dangerous chemicals have gone missing with no knowledge of who was there at the time.
The University has around 150 doors (30 Cardax FT Controllers) using third party magstripe readers. There are additionally around 20 Cardax Prox (125 Series) readers used in secure areas via a dual technology card. "We have plans to change the existing 125 Prox to Mifare and then roll out dual function cards to all cardholders - replacing magstripe readers with Cardax Prox Mifare readers," explains Jonathan. Once converted this would take into consideration different facets - from the cafeterias to involving the local bus companies - in the use of the smart card technology.
The success of Cardax in centralising access control and reporting has meant the system is being expanded rapidly, and introducing new functionality is ongoing. Jonathan is planning for high-level integration with CCTV, and room booking and timetabling systems.
UEA have opted for a Cardax FT Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) to ensure their system remains current. "The situation of the seven disparate systems we inherited was a direct result of allowing systems to become outdated," says Jonathan.