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First class protection

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Published in Features
ACT protect education sites of all sizes and the company’s R&D department realises that in no other sector is it more important to balance provision of  immediate access for staff and legitimate visitors against the need to control and document entrance and egress.
 
Academic managers want to deal with access control manufacturers who offer solutions including enterprise-wide networked software, readers, door stations, controllers, cards, readers and fobs that can cater for the widest range of users. The academic sector requires processing of extensive enrolment details and large-scale card generation, with users often expecting to be able to populate the access control database from third-party products.
 
Education clients in the public sector also appreciate the economies that come from the fact that ACT’s systems use an open standards platform which allows retention of legacy reader technology. Audio door entry control is used by many ACT customers in the education sector who need to validate site entry by contractors. Pupils’ cards can also be used for cashless vending which is a major benefit.
 
Many clients in the academic sector are longstanding users who have migrated to successive product suites as the ACT offering has evolved. One such customer is The Sheffield College in South Yorkshire, a multi-site campus with a student population of 23,000 spread over three locations with courses including entry level and higher academic education as well as vocational study. The college has now begun using the ACTpro eLock which can be operated with up to 32 locks per eLock hub and features both visual and audible alerts.
 
The original and core products used in Sheffield have been ACTpro controllers which have been installed on more than 150 doors, primarily in building entrances. ACT have not only shown their open-system credentials by integrating with third-party readers from CardPOS Europe, but have also customised their management software to function alongside the college’s enrolment system.
 
ACT’s developers created a synchronisation tool which has facilitated an XML drop by which the college enrolment database populates the ACT database without any re-keying or risk of duplication. Even a conservative estimate indicates there has been a saving of 23 man days per year which would otherwise have been spent on data entry.
 
Installation of the ACT door controllers is ongoing, and the units have been used extensively at a new location within the campus, the £60m Sheffield City College supported by funding from the Learning and Skills Council (now the Skills Funding Agency.) The building, which features a striking seven-storey tower and glass atrium, has more than 50 teaching rooms including training hair and beauty salons, science laboratories, a catering wing and restaurant for the public, student refectory and a learning resource centre. It has been praised for green energy usage based on solar panels and wind turbines.
 
Mark Jackson of integrators CCS Ltd said: “Educational establishments frequently have a large flow of enrolment details in a short period, with even students who are simply progressing to the next year needing to be re-registered. ACT proved responsive with business rules, bespoke data mapping and programming that was tailored for this application. The solution was a collaborative process between all the stakeholders and has resulted in accuracy and traceability.”
 
Students with impaired mobility are able to activate the door controllers through proximity scanning of their cards at turnstiles. The project is IP-addressable throughout and CCS also installed networked CCTV, the cameras being a mixture of static and dome units from Dedicated Micros and eneo. There is a dedicated 24-hour CCTV monitoring centre at Hillsborough College to the north of Sheffield city centre. Like all crucial site areas, this is fitted with the ACT door controllers. The ACTpro two-door controllers used here are expandable to 16 doors using ACTpro door stations. The units are networkable to 2,000 doors and can be used with ‘Clock & Data’ and ‘Weigand’ format readers. 
 
An ACT installation being finished as In Security went to press is Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, a mixed comprehensive school in Wales. Ysgol Dyffryn Aman has 1,600 pupils studying across a large campus with a sixth form of over 300. Staff and students are benefiting from protection offered by ACTpro 4000 door controllers and ACTpro door stations on interior and perimeter doors. The ACT hardware uses low bandwidth and auto-discovery for easy installation and maintenance combined with advanced features such as timed anti-passback and counting areas.
 
Staff at the school activate doors using 13.56MHz MIFARE fobs and ACTpro MIFARE 1030PM readers which, unlike many competitor brands, can read data from any of the 16 sectors on a card so offering the extra security levels required for education applications. Typical usage at the school is for specialised teaching areas such as science laboratories and infrastructure including plant rooms. 
 
The system is configured with time zones so that doors to common areas open automatically during breaks and lunchtime and subsequently relock. The access control system at the school has been extended to secure a link with an adjacent public leisure complex featuring two swimming pools, an athletics track, Astroturf pitches and a gymnasium. School administrators are able to use ACT management software to track door usage and analyse trends in movement around the site as well as designing and printing identity cards.
 
Dyfed Alarms has secured 50 doors with ACT units while the school conducts phased refurbishments block by block. Ysgol Dyffryn Aman is a co-educational non-denominational school located in Ammanford at the foot of the Black Mountains with a large catchment area covering both rural and urban neighbourhoods in Carmarthenshire. In its most recent Estyn inspection (equivalent to Ofsted in England) the school was adjudged ‘good.’
Des John, Business Development Manager at Dyfed Alarms, said: "The fact that we have been using ACT on successive modular installations over three years at the school is testimony to the build quality and reliability of the products. For this kind of educational installation, ACT is the only company we specify. The technical support is first-rate and in the rare event of a problem, engineers always come to the site promptly. We are currently using ACT equipment at another school in Whitland, also in the county of Carmarthenshire.”
 
Classes at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman reflect and enhance the bi-lingual nature of the area. Many students represent their county and country at sports. In its current and former identities, the school has produced impressive alumni. Past pupils include the prominent zoologist Prof Donald Arthur, musician John Cale (founder member of The Velvet Underground), international soccer player Dai Davies and international rugby players Don Tarr and Shane Williams.
From a Carmarthen base, Dyfed Alarms covers West, Mid and South Wales. Founded in 1977 and an independent company, it is one of the largest suppliers and installers of access control, CCTV, and fire detection equipment in Wales. Dyfed Alarms’ operations include education, healthcare, office space and retail. The company is NSI-approved and a member of NICEIC.