Steve Cox, central services manager for the Unitary Authority of Blackburn with Darwen in East Lancashire, is delighted with the P3.net access control system manufactured by Lancashire based BSB Electronics and installed by Darwen based Atlas Alarms. He says, "Three major multi-user Borough Council buildings have the up-to-date P3 online, proximity card access system. Nearly 2,500 users now benefit from this very reliable and easy to use access control system."
Steve, who is responsible for building management including security, decided to replace the previous swipe card system because it was 16 years old and had become unreliable. He also needed a system that would be easy to extend as the need arose.
On the advice of partner company Capita and installers Atlas Alarms, Steve considered the BSB P3.net system as a possible solution. Impressed by BSB's demonstration of their cost-effective online P3.net system, Steve decided to upgrade six doors to begin with and has since added 18 doors in two more council buildings. The installation began more than two years ago and now extends to 24 doors between the three main multi-user council buildings - the Town Hall Tower Block (6 doors), the Old Town Hall (10 doors) and the Exchange Building (8 doors).
The 2,500 people currently using the system include council staff, council members and key people associated with the council. P3.net allows access discs to be added to the back of existing ID cards so that authorized people are allowed access in a controlled manner to those buildings or parts of buildings they are approved to access. The ability to use the existing ID cards was an important factor in the decision to use the BSB P3.net system. P3.net is so flexible that different doors can be set to open for different periods of time. For example some are set to open for 6 seconds whilst others may need to be open for longer to allow access for trolleys etc.
At first only exterior doors were included but following a review of security 18 months ago, it was decided to introduce compartments within the three main council buildings. Doors at key points such as between the old town hall and the tower block and at the top of the stairs into the mayor's parlour are now included in the system.
In thinking about access control, Steve had to take into account the sensitive public meetings that are hosted by the council from time to time. Although members of the public need easy access to public areas of the town hall, it is crucial that Steve and his 11-strong team are able to limit public access within the building.
Steve finds BSB's Doors Enterprise on-line system easy to use. He says, "The P3.net online software package is compatible with standard operating systems such as Windows XP and Vista. We've found that deactivating lost cards couldn't be simpler as is adding new users to the system." Steve is very happy with the high level of control the P3.net system offers. In addition, access levels can be varied between different users; an important aspect of customisation for Steve is the ability to limit access to particular days and times. He says, "Normal access times are 7am-9pm, Monday to Friday but this can be varied for staff working in the evenings such as cleaners who have access between 4pm and 8pm, Monday to Friday. The system is very flexible so that staff working at weekend or those on call can be given appropriate access."
The Doors Enterprise software allows Steve and his colleagues to look at live events and a permanent record is kept that allow interrogation of particular individual access patterns or, alternatively, use of a given door can be analysed too. The online system allows Steve to use cost codes to recharge costs to different departments within the council.
Although P3.net is very reliable, easy to understand and straightforward to use and Steve hasn't had any problems, he has called on the BSB support team to provide training and advice when he has wanted to upgrade and extend the existing system. Steve has been very impressed by the quality of the support provided by Customer Support Engineer, Munawer Butt. He says, "Munawer is very knowledgeable, responsive, informative and nothing is too much trouble for him. He readily explained how simple it is to update both the P3.net hardware and software. I'm really pleased we have chosen BSB's P3.net product, it has been a first class decision and I'm confident that it will serve us extremely well for many years to come."
Ian Bend, Technical Director at BSB recalls that P3.net flexibility was crucial in being able to accommodate the thick stone walls of the original town hall which is a listed building. He says, "The very thick stone walls at the old town hall meant it was difficult to run twisted pair network cables. However, the IT department was able to provide Ethernet access points so the P3.net controller was used at each door. These were then addressed via IP. This saved planning permission, a lot of expensive drilling and disruption to the council offices. The P3.net system then also allowed the remote buildings to be included in the one system. Two client workstations were loaded with the software so that more than one staff member could administer the system."
Benefits of P3.net at a glance
- Uses existing ID cards
- Easy to use
- Excellent support readily available when needed