|The Cardiff YMCA Housing Association |
Cardiff YMCA has installed the Paxton Access Net2 network access control system
and this currently covers almost forty doors throughout the building. In addition to the main external doors, the system also covers emergency exits, corridors, management offices and is now being tested on individual rooms. Andrew Jenkins, Cardiff YMCA's General Manager, explains the rationale behind the system: "Our primary motivation is security. We have a large number of people on site and a regular turnover of residents and this means that we need to restrict and monitor access in and out of the building for the benefit of all users, residents and staff."
"Like many organisations our access control installation began on a very small scale, but this has grown steadily as we have come to realise the full potential of the system. All the external entrances and many of the corridor doors are controlled by the system, including the fire exits that we hope are never required. In the event of a fire alarm the fi re doors will automatically unlock to allow speedy evacuation of the building. Ceramic locks on fire doors can get broken quite easily and so access control on these is very convenient".
The Cardiff YMCA Housing Association is a charitable Housing Association and a Registered Social Landlord registered with the Welsh Assembly Government. It directly manages board and lodge hostels in the Roath area of Cardiff providing temporary accommodation for homeless men and women of all ages and backgrounds. The Association also provides support to all residents in their search for permanent accommodation, as well as additional support for a range of other identified needs including employment. Cardiff YMCA HA is an autonomous housing association run by a volunteer board of management and is affiliated to YMCA Wales.
The main hostel of the Cardiff YMCA Housing Association comprises 76 bedrooms, along with management offices and a community centre that includes a theatre and gym. In addition to residents and visitors on site, there are approximately sixty staff employed including cleaners, caterers, twelve support workers (who assess the needs of residents and monitor their progress), 24-hour security and reception staff and a small management team. The hostel is designed to meet the needs of short-term residents who normally stay for a maximum of six months.
"The Net2 software is extremely flexible and gives us the ability to limit an individual's access both within the building -for instance to particular floors - and according to the time of day. This is hugely beneficial when you employ as many shiftbased staff as we do. It is essential, of course, to control access to the management offices where all the finance, staff and residents' records are kept. No-one can access these offices unless accompanied by an authorised user."
One of the challenges for any hostel is key management either, because residents forget to return their keys on leaving or because keys become lost or mislaid. With four or five keys requiring replacement each week the cost is significant both in terms of locksmith charges and management time. In contrast, any Net2 fob may be instantly barred from the system, preventing their use on any of the doors.
Although not yet entirely convinced about extending Paxton Access Net2 to cover the whole hostel, Andrew Jenkins does recognise the time and cost saving potential of the system for both maintenance and management staff. "This has encouraged Cardiff YMCA to trial access control on individual rooms," says Andrew Jenkins. "It is much easier, quicker and cheaper to enrol and issue a fob than it is to replace a key as it can be undertaken conveniently from a desk and doesn't require the time of a maintenance person to go and get a key cut."
"This has led us to trial the system on fourteen individual rooms on the third floor. This is our incentive floor in the hostel where rooms are allocated as a reward for an individual's progress towards employment. A room on the third floor means the resident has a fridge, an extra meal and a better view from the window. It also means the resident has a ‘front door,' as the corridor on that floor is controlled by the Net2 system. We would never give people a corridor key because of the frequency with which the keys would go astray. But the ease of barring the fobs removes this problem and residents appreciate the status that they represent."
Throughout the day and night security staff are expected to tour the entire building once an hour as part of their duties. Although not designed as a clocking-in system, Net2's software can create a report that shows, by user, which doors were swiped and when. There are two wings on the building and four floors. There is a central staircase which is used for normal access. At the end of each wing on every level there is a fire door which allows access to the fire escape stairwells. The security guards begin their tour on the 4th floor of the building. Using the fire escape stairs, they enter the stairwell by using their fob to unlock the door. At each level, they enter the floor by presenting their fob to the reader on the inside of the door. The relevant floor is checked, and then the guard re-enters the stairwell by presenting his fob to the reader on the egress side of the door. "By requiring security staff to swipe at each fire exit door it is possible to check - by creating a report - that these tour duties are being carried out correctly," explains Andrew Jenkins. "This function is very useful and enormously helpful in establishing staff accountability and encouraging everyone to adopt the same routine."
|The Paxton Net2 has time and cost saving potential of the system for both maintenance and management staff|
In conclusion, Andrew Jenkins believes that Net2 should be viewed primarily as a security and management tool, rather than as a cost saving technology: "Restricting access according to need eliminates temptation. And although lost fobs are valuable there is an inbuilt security element whenever access is controlled via the system. Compared with a key it is much more difficult to access a building using a lost or stolen fob, as we bar the fobs from the system as soon as we are aware of the loss or theft. For instance, as all the management offices are accessed using a fob it wouldn't be easy for a disgruntled member of staff to return to the building even if they had walked off with some of the hostel's remaining keys. We are extremely pleased with the system and the Security Installation company that installed it were very helpful and knowledgeable
Future possible enhancements to the system include integrating the hostel's CCTV cameras with the access control system so that it is possible to see who is trying to access a particular building or area. Upgrading the system so that it can be accessed remotely via the Internet is also a possibility. This would prove very valuable should an incident occur when the hostel's senior management were off site. Extending the system to incorporate the ground floor rooms that offer disabled access is also likely.