Overcoming the Disruption of Employee Departures on Access Control

A property management company that had a workforce reduction was having trouble logging into DNA Fusion because one of the operators was no longer with the company. Without a password that was required, this existing Open Options customer was in dire need to solve the problem. Their main contact at their dealer, unfortunately, had also left his position. With nowhere else to turn amid all the personnel changes, the end-user turned to the Sales team at Open Option as the ultimate problem-solvers to quarterback a last-minute drive to a resolution.

When the end-user customer attempted to log into DNA Fusion, they received an error message that the SQL database was not connecting. It was a Microsoft issue, not a DNA Fusion issue. The customer initially called into the Tech Support team at Open Options, but a resolution was going to require a coordinated effort across different functions.

The regional sales team at Open Options reached out to the customer and scheduled a WebEx session with the customer and their IT department. The Sales leader also brought in his colleagues from the Tech Support side of Open Options for additional troubleshooting. After they worked on the problem in a collaborative fashion, Open Options was able to access their computer and successfully run the reports that they required. This is comforting during challenging times when changes, including personnel changes, can cause disruptions and create new issues that need a coordinated effort to resolve. Open Options provides access that connects customers to resolutions. This is part of the promise of ConnectCare, which is the next level of customer care, especially useful in times of uncertainty and disruption.

Professional Services Aids School with Conversion Amid Data Inconveniently Spread Out

Conversion of an existing access control system across 12 different locations, 19 controllers, 170 doors, and more than 800 personnel records was going to be challenging for a school district in the Mid-west. The Open Options Professional Services was tasked with assisting in gathering as much data as possible to build the system in-house before going on-site to install DNA Fusion and test the system. But then this happened…

Professional Services was not able to get a backup of their existing system. They had to use 26 different PDF reports. Data was spread across these reports, and they had to be organized and combined. To further complicate the process, the reports did not import cleanly into a useable format, which meant quite a bit of data had to be copied and pasted by hand. As a point of reference, one of the reports was over 600 pages.

“After reviewing the reports and identifying which reports contained the critical data

required, a plan was starting to come together,” said Michael Digby, Professional Services & Sales Engineer at Open Options. “We were able to deliver the assistance that the integrator was looking for. We were essentially able to demonstrate how our Professional Services team at Open Options adds value.”

Professional Services began to take the data and use it to start programming the hardware within DNA Fusion. Once that was finished, the next task was to address getting the personnel data for 800 cardholders imported. This required importing and exporting data multiple times to match up personnel information with card numbers. Using OpenDX with two import routines, the files that were created were then imported into DNA Fusion quickly and efficiently.

“With some basic quality control checks for confirmation, everything was moving along,” added Digby. “After designing and programming the system, it is now ready to be installed and tested.

The goal to doing most of this work in-house will allow the on-site Professional Services team member to troubleshoot any issues or assist with any custom programming that may come up.”

The Creative Use of DNA Fusion – The New Challenge of Temperature Checks at Entry Points

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an end-user customer was required to create security points where temperature checks would be conducted of each employee who is entering certain buildings. A high fever is a sign of possible coronavirus infection at which point the employee is denied access to the building in order to protect other employees. But how does one use an access control system to give or deny access to a building based on a person’s body temperature? Open Options’ Tech Support team had to get creative. 

Although DNA Fusion does a lot, controlling access to a building based on whether a person has a fever or not was a new challenge for Open Options, uniquely reflective of the COVID-19 era. The end user’s dealer contacted Luis Solorzano on the Technical Support team of Open Options for assistance after they were already utilizing anti-passback, which was unable to be further used to accomplish their goals.

The buildings that needed to have this special controlled access, based on monitoring people’s body temperature, did not have any physical barrier that would force personnel working in those buildings to a checkpoint every day. Luis engaged the entire support team at Open Options to find a solution to meet the customer’s needs.

The best solution that could be implemented rapidly, the team agreed, was to have DNA Fusion deactivate the credentials at a set time every day of those people who work in different shifts in those buildings. Then when they return to work, they would need to go through the checkpoint to get their temperature checked and, if cleared, badge in at the checkpoint, which would then re-activate their credentials, so they could proceed into the building.   

“After working out the details to address multiple shifts and only affect certain personnel, instead of de-activating everyone at the company daily, the solution was presented and tested on-site,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options.  “Once tested, the customer was very pleased with the solution, and they were able to get the desired function without needing to wait so that they could implement the safety measures for food prep due to the current global crisis.”

Reopening Training Class at Open Options: On the Road Again

Training is back in person! The Training team at Open Options hit the road running with an on-site training in Casper, Wyoming recently. It marked the restart of in-person training sessions offered by our company in the aftermath of the lifting of stay-at-home orders. Classes are also now being offered at our Open Options headquarters in Texas. As the economy opens, it’s back to business -- helping you drive your business or improve your operation through training. 

“After the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, everyone was excited to come together to learn about DNA Fusion,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options “It was great to connect with our customers in person at this regional training class. We enjoyed seeing everyone’s face in class.”

This regional training class had seven dealer technicians and a system user from the area in attendance. The students came from various backgrounds; many of whom had little to no experience with access control. The first part of the class covered what they see in the field, including wiring of door status monitors, request-to-exit devices and readers, including OSDP and Wiegand technologies. The remainder of the class involved hands-on training on DNA Fusion. The class wrapped up with discussing project-specific topics such as an upcoming installation with an integration to the Allegion NDE lockset as well as troubleshooting scenarios.

One student said, “Thank you for your patience. I did not have a clue on Tuesday but I learned so much from this class. You are an amazing trainer.” 

Another student commented that the “class provided me wonderful solutions for my customers. Best training ever!”

The schedule of training classes is posted on the Open Options website and on the company’s social media channels, and the Training department is currently accepting requests to schedule new classes in different regions. “It’s exciting to be conducting in-person training again, and we’re looking forward to the upcoming classes in the coming weeks,” added Sherinda. 

However, if you live in a state where restrictions on in-person gatherings are still in place, please contact us at Open Options for alternative, online training to support you.

Please visit our website for more information.

COVID 19 Training Update:

Open Options class sizes are limited to 6 students maximum per class. We take every precaution to ensure the safety of our students by providing cleaning procedures that include sanitizing and UV sanitization of mouse and keyboard equipment. All of these measures have been implemented to protect our employees and students.

A Smarter Way to Transition State Government from Proprietary to Open

State government officials discovered that having a proprietary access control system for their state government has limitations, inefficiencies and lingering drawbacks, surely holding them back. They saw that moving to an open approach for access control was the future. After an evaluation, this state government selected Open Options’ DNA Fusion as the access control platform of choice. 

Like most, this state government started off the new project with Open Options with a very large database, along with many doors on their system. The process of converting their numerous locations and doors over to DNA Fusion, along with tens of thousands of credentials, presented a challenge – but one that the Sales team at Open Options was ready for.

While hardware was being switched out, the state had to keep its existing database until the final switchover to DNA Fusion occurred. Enrolling new users into the legacy system continued to be mandatory during the transition project. At midnight each night, DNA Fusion would accept a database file dump of their entire database, which proved to be very timely and error-prone. 

This is where the Sales team kicked into high gear, bringing their Open Options colleagues in Professional Services and Software Development into the project to come up with a viable solution. 

“Our Engineering and Software Development teams were able to come up with a quick solution change in DNA Fusion,” said Shannon Diddell, Regional Sales Manager at Open Options.  “Instead of downloading the entire database nightly, the Open Options Software Development team was able to write a query that only looked for new entries from the legacy access system every 15 minutes. This allowed the system to accept very few, if any, errors, and it did not bog down the throughput of trying to download tens of thousands of credentials nightly.” 

The state government customer was pleased and able to get a clean database moving forward when the "all-go" switch was turned on with Open Options. 

Auto Unlock and Door Activity Reports Mysteriously Disappear Without a Trace

A customer ran into problems when they discovered that they could no longer set doors to auto unlock and their trace history on doors was not working. This was unacceptable, as the customer needed doors to follow a time schedule to lock and unlock, and they needed reports on doors to check activity and traffic. As a trusted partner, the Technical Support team at Open Options got the call.

Tech Support Supervisor Zack Davis tackled the auto unlock issue first. The option was missing in the hardware properties when the door properties were opened. He immediately knew that it was a permission issue on the current operator’s profile. He verified that the operator should have that capability and the user verified. He went into the operator profile and made the correct permission change to allow auto unlock.

He then looked into the trace history issue to find out why it was not functional. They were getting an invalid source error when running a trace history report. Zack had encountered this issue on multiple occasions in the past with other customers and knew to look at SQL. Upon checking SQL, he found they were running in compatibility mode for 2000, instead of 2008. He made the change in SQL to be compatibility mode 2008 to correct the error. He closed out of DNA, restarted the DNA driver, and then relaunched DNA Fusion.     

“After discovering and solving the permission limit on the operator’s profile, the end-user was able to successfully and easily apply the auto unlock schedule to doors again,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “For the trace history report on the door, Zack verified that they were functional after his changes in SQL, which allowed the user to utilize those reports to review door activity. The customer was extremely happy with those items being resolved.”

But Tech Support wasn’t done, known to go the extra mile to help a customer have access that connects the dots.  Zack finished the call with one final check on their system, as they had just completed a big upgrade jump in DNA Fusion versions from 6.5 to 7.7. He uncovered that they needed to upgrade their firmware on their controllers. He walked them through getting those upgraded to the latest firmware and verified once again that everything was functional on their site – much to the customer’s delight. The customer was now fully upgraded and had a fully functioning system. Mission accomplished.

Connecting Hundreds of New Doors to Access Control during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Commissioning 250 doors between two sites is not an easy task during normal times. Doing it during the COVID-19 pandemic with the widespread stay-at-home orders and restricted physical access to buildings adds another level of complexity. This is the challenge that a large school district in Louisiana had to tackle recently. Yet, despite the new “normal,” Open Options Professional Services provided the support that helped them be successful. 

Facilitating remote access was key to this project to add more than 100 doors each at two different sites to the access control system, bringing the total to 500 doors online. Just like the rest of the world, the system user was mostly working from home and had very limited hours to gain access to the two sites that are over 30 minutes apart from each other. 

“This project required extreme flexibility to accommodate the unique demands of the system user to move around while still providing remote access to the system to help the integrator with the access control install,” said William Murphey, Professional Services & Engineering Manager at Open Options. “Working remotely helped facilitate what was necessary to successfully bring online, program and test 250 new access control doors added to the system.”

The Professional Services team at Open Options remained flexible, indeed, in allowing the system user to move around freely, as needed, from home to office and then back to home. This demonstrated that access control end-user customers can still advance their access control projects forward, despite the pandemic-related shutdown. 

Open Options worked closely with the integrator and system user to remotely assist in configuring and programming the new devices and troubleshooting connectivity issues. 

The site inspection went smoothly. Professional Services made it look easy. 

As the Nation Starts to Reopen, Will You Be Ready to Ramp Up? Training Special Offer Extended to May 31st

Prepare Yourself to Ramp Up

Online training has kept Open Options connected with our customers and end-users during the COVID-19 pandemic, but attention is starting to turn to what is next on the horizon. iLearn is a training program that Open Options provides to help you accelerate ramping back up and getting ready to implement immediate changes in your access control system, as the U.S. economy is slowly opened up in the weeks and months ahead.

We don’t want you to miss out on the special offer on the iLearn WebEx sessions that have been driving system users and dealers to register for the short, informational sessions. And you can do it from the comfort of your home. These sessions typically follow an agenda that builds on the DNA Fusion system; however, every class is tailored to meet the student’s needs.

The Open Options Training Department is making a special offer available to you during these unprecedented times. We will tailor a 4-hour WebEx session (two 2-hour blocks) to meet your learning needs. To help our community of dealers and system users during this critical time, we’re offering the iLearn 4-hour block for only $500.00.

“We understand that our customers are still needing to learn about the features and functions of their DNA Fusion system during this pandemic and the iLearn sessions have proven invaluable,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options. “These sessions have provided some insight into the various ways that DNA Fusion can be leveraged to make our system user’s job easier. In numerous sessions, attendees have learned new methods of utilizing DNA Fusion to save them time and effort.”

While we practice social distancing, the door is wide open for distance learning. This online training will help you get the most out of your DNA Fusion system going forward. To get started, contact the Open Options training team at training@ooaccess.com. The special offer is available through May 31, 2020.

Tips for Your iLearn WebEx Session

Ready. Set. Open… The following are tips on how to get the most out of your iLearn WebEx Session:

  • Review the agenda in detail
  • Create a list of questions (we all forget…)
  • Locate a distraction-free space
  • Gather together with your coworkers (great minds!)
  • Have DNA Fusion running on a separate computer (it is nice to see it in your world)
  • Ask questions (remember the list?)
  • Enjoy the class!

Share Your Story

How has life been for you since the coronavirus outbreak? How are you adapting to the changes in work life due to the pandemic?  You are part of our community, and it’s vital that we all stay connected, even while this crisis persists. We want to hear from you.

Share with us how the recent events around the coronavirus pandemic have impacted your job and the way you’re working. Email us your story at training@ooaccess.com.

Everything Shuts Down: Time to Call Open Options Tech Support

The site was taken offline each time the DNA driver crashed, which was every time a download command was issued. If an attempt was made to restart it, the driver would immediately stop. The only option was to contact Tech Support at Open Options.

After initial troubleshooting by Tech Support did not resolve the issue, the Open Options technician, Jose Charco, asked the customer to send in the database, which was loaded up in Open Options’ state-of-the-art issue resolution environment. Jose worked with Lane Ford, a senior technician on the Tech Support team, to identify the issue.

The Tech Support team uncovered that the customer had an invalid time schedule parameter in their database. It was the cause of crashing the driver when it attempted to initiate the download. The next step was clearly to resolve it, relying on the ingenuity of Tech Support.

“Our subject matter expert, Lane, was quickly able to assist Jose with locating the issue in the customer’s database and provide custom SQL scripts to correct the issue on site,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options. “Once Jose was able to get back into the customer system, he executed those scripts against their database. They ran successfully and changed the rows with errors. He then started the DNA driver successfully, executed a download to all controllers, verified the DNA driver was stable, and verified the download completed successfully.”

As a result, the customer site was back online and 100% operational with the restored capability of being able to push downloads and new information out to all the controllers. The shutdown was finally over.

This is an example of the type of commitment to excellence that Open Options’ Tech Support team has. It represents the core values of the company’s Connect Care mantra. When you need to get back up and running, the Tech Support team are ready to jump into action to assist you.

COVID-19 Pandemic Stay-at-home Orders Don’t Stop Professional Services from Creating Graphics Maps

Denver Public Schools needed graphics maps to show the status of the door, alarm points and cameras for every school campus in their district – a particularly useful illustration at a time when staff is working remotely. Because of the complexity and high number of buildings, the school district brought in Open Options’ Professional Services for assistance.

In order for this project to be successful, the Professional Services team had to create a duplicate DNA Fusion server remotely with the same server name, same file structure and same SQL database. The team was able to do it by creating a virtual computer in their test bed. The pre-work included test maps for the customer to evaluate and determine what the finished product would look like. The Open Options team exceeded the customer’s expectations, and the project was off to a strong start.

Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19)-related stay-at-home orders in March, the Professional Services team members were able to develop the graphics maps from their home offices. The ability to work remotely gives Open Options customers an advantage to get things done, even during these challenging times due to the global pandemic.

“Denver Public Schools selected Open Options to create graphics maps in order to provide their operators with an intuitive and efficient interface for managing such a large and complex environment ,” said John Hubbard, National Sales Engineer on Open Options’ Professional Services team.

The map project involves creating two maps for each school. One map for the administrative side with all doors, alarm points and cameras, and one map for the schools that shows everything but the cameras. By doing these maps in a certain order, Open Options is able to create both maps at the same time, allowing for this project to be completed in less time than if the customer had tried to complete it on their own. This is access that connects.

The Open Options Professional Services team is here for our customers, working remotely, yet still getting things done.