Security for Higher Education: Access Control on the College Campus
An Open Options and Young Harris College Success Story
Young Harris College is a private, baccalaureate degree-granting college located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through the highest quality liberal arts education.
The college currently has more than 1,100 students across multiple divisions — Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences — and employs nearly 250 faculty and staff. YHC was named to the 2017-2018 list of Colleges of Distinction and listed as a "Best National Liberal Arts College" by U.S. News & World Report.
Young Harris College has recently completed major campus improvements to accommodate its growth. These LEED-certified improvements include the 121,000-square-foot Rollins Campus Center, new residence facilities, and a 57,000-square-foot recreation and fitness center. Hollis Townsend, Director of Technology Support & Operations for YHC, saw this expansion as the perfect opportunity to implement a state-of-the-art access control solution in the new buildings and upgrade the existing access control system in other areas of the campus.
YHC's previous access control provider posed numerous issues that threatened the overall safety and security of the campus, including licensing, annual maintenance contracts, and technical support, to name a few. "Integrations we needed were stalled because we weren't able to upgrade the software every release due to costs, and calling in a problem was never a quick process," said Townsend.
When searching for a new access control provider, Townsend cited the security of students and protection of facilities as two of the biggest challenges the new system needed to manage. "We also wanted a system that worked seamlessly with our existing Schlage locks, so Allegion provided us with about six manufacturers for consideration," said Townsend. "After review, we had three of those companies come to campus for presentations."
Guess which provider received an A+ on their presentation?
In addition to their partnership with Allegion and compatibility with Schlage locks, Open Options was awarded the project because, according to Townsend, "their product had the most integration options available, and they showed they were in a position to continuously offer more."
A huge factor in the selection of Open Options as the college's access control provider was the company's extensive portfolio of technology partners and integrated solutions. In addition to integrating Schlage AD and NDE locks with DNA Fusion, YHC also deploys Milestone Systems' XProtect software for their video management needs.
The integration between DNA Fusion and XProtect enables complete control of live and recorded video from XProtect through the DNA Fusion client. DNA Fusion software manages the entire access control system, including door controllers and door hardware, users, cards, and access levels. The highly customizable DNA Fusion client is used to configure, maintain and monitor the access control system, including viewing live and recorded video integrated from XProtect software.
In addition to a well-rounded security solution, YHC has numerous efforts in place to streamline and control access, which increases students' safety on campus. Students are assigned credentials that are used to gain entry to facilities campus-wide, including residence halls, common student areas, and more. YHC also requires students to present their access badge at elevators, where the students can choose from set floors depending on their access level.
Though Townsend and his team are happy with the college's current security solution, he wants to stress this isn't the end of the road for system expansion. "Future plans include implementing emergency procedures and tying them into our existing systems to keep our students safe," said Townsend. "Open Options is the standard for our access control, and we look forward to working with them, our other product vendors, and our integrator, GC&E Systems Group, to continue upgrading our security."