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ACRE Dealer Days Announcement

New year, new opportunities, and we are excited to announce the ACRE Dealer Days 2022  virtual meetings! Dealer Days is an exclusive virtual conference where ACRE brands will gather to network, have interactive sessions, exciting giveaways, and more. We will be discussing ACRE solutions like Access It!, DNA Fusion, and the dealers that support and sell these innovative solutions. 

We have made it easy for you to attend one of two days for your specific product interest. Whether you are focused on selling and supporting Access It! (Tuesday, February 15th) or DNA Fusion (Wednesday, February 16th), we've got a great day-long program planned to get you the latest on product advancements, sales tools, and what's to come to help you grow your business and create a safer, more streamlined future. 

We are thrilled to have you come to learn, network, share strategies and unlock all the features and innovations around these platforms. 

Schedule of events: Pick the date and time that works best for you!

  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022, | 10:00 am-6:30 pm (CT) - Dealers Focused on Access It!
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2022, | 10:00 am-6:30 pm (CT) - Dealers Focused on DNA Fusion

Register Here

Glancing Back: ACRE’s Year in Review

No matter where you were in 2021, we all shared some very similar experiences to what we experienced in 2020 — ones that redefined the way we worked, lived, and supported each other. This year, for ACRE, we continued to highlight our resilience as an organization, our ability to adapt, and how we came together as the team we now refer to as One ACRE.

Going into 2021, we had clear objectives for our organization. Following the previous years, our overarching goal was to drive organic and acquisitive growth while delivering trusted, reliable, and enterprise-ready solutions for our customers and partners. We aimed to drive innovation across our brands, grow and foster our teams, and improve operational efficiency. Here is a look at how we achieved our goals:

Growth

In March, ACRE was acquired by the European investment firm Triton. Triton has delivered the industry expertise and additional capital to support ACRE’s continued innovation and proven buy and build strategy. Over the past nine months, they have actively supported us by investing in the growth and development of the company. Their industry expertise and international network have further strengthened ACRE’s position as a leading global provider of intelligent electronic security solutions. We are beyond happy to be part of the Triton organization.

And only one month following Triton’s purchase of our company, we delivered on our promise of continued growth via acquisition. We purchased Time Data Security (“TDS”) based in Dublin, Ireland, to strengthen our product portfolio and increase our geographic reach. TDS, which delivers cloud-based visitor management, life safety, and access control applications, has benefitted by leveraging our existing reseller channels and end-users to help grow this business globally. 

And we didn’t stop there. We closed the book in 2021 with the acquisitions of Feenics and Matrix. Feenics brings cloud-based access control solutions to our rapidly growing network of global customers while also expanding its portfolio to support the growing demand for cloud-based security solutions. Matrix enables us to expand the addressable market for the company’s technology portfolio, offering customers a broader breadth of reliable, integrated access control and video surveillance technologies designed to meet evolving business and security requirements.

This year, one of our primary goals was to bring the industry’s best technology innovators into our network of brands. We have accomplished that; however, we are not pumping the breaks there. We will continue onward.

Impact

We delivered beyond our expectations for 2021. To list a few highlights, razberi Monitor won a 2021 Detektor International Award. ACRE Chief Product Officer Kim Loy was honored as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology and was named a top Women at the Frontline of the Industry

This year, we leveraged the power of our team to offer new services and products that redefine security. Vanderbilt International launched its new ACT Kit Builder to help partners build the correct access control solution based on specific project needs. Open Options released a new DNA Fusion recertification option that enables customers to take it at their own pace. And RS2 introduced razberi bundles to deliver integrated, easy-to-deploy solutions for security environments. 

Collaboration

We created a variety of conversations — from training to specific product features. Our marketing teams worked diligently to provide partners and customers with the information and support needed. As a team, we made the most out of another challenging year, turned it into an opportunity, and continued to accelerate forward. 

As technology leaders, our day-to-day work is more collaborative than ever before. We constantly brainstorm, connect, and work with our cross-functional teams to find the best solutions and drive results. We’ve identified areas we can further improve on as we build out our team, and we are looking for new ways to communicate effectively as more and more of our workforce is remote.  

Looking Ahead

We don’t know what the future holds, but we know that there are great things in store (and indeed some more acquisitive growth!). We’re incredibly thankful for our customers and partners, and team. Here’s to another year of collaboration, creation, and more growth in 2022!

Throwback Thursday: The Challenges of Securing a City

The Open Options and City of Belluve Success Story

Bellevue is the fifth-largest city in Washington, with a population of about 120,000, and is the high-tech and retail center of the Eastside. The city spans more than 31 square miles between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish and is short of the Cascade Mountains. The population is consistently growing and regularly becoming more diverse. 

The Challenge

The City of Bellevue quickly grew during 2005 and soon saw the need to expand its government facilities and overall security. Being a high-tech city, Bellevue had several requirements for sharing data across other business applications and integrating existing video and intercom systems for a well-rounded approach to security. They were using a Kalatel CCTV switch to monitor video and a Commend intercom system for communications. The goal was to interface these systems into the access control interface seamlessly. Other challenges facing the city were controlling several banks of elevators, parking control, and securing the prisoner transfer area of the police department and jail. 

The Solution

Open Options teamed up with Guardian security of Seattle, WA, to propose a comprehensive security solution that addressed all of Bellevue’s needs. The city implemented Open Options’ Universal ASCII Driver (UAD) to pull together both video and intercom communications. The initial access control project consisted of over 100 reader doors secured with Open Options open platform hardware. Open Options and Guardian worked with Bellevue’s IT department to ensure shared NT security across the network. They use OpenDX to share personnel data across the Active Directory and DNA Fusion database to eliminate redundant data entry. The entire project comprises all city departments, including PD and jail, across three buildings and continues to grow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of the Open Options and ACRE Family, we want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Before we all take a break this week to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends, family, and loved ones, we want to send a quick message to let you know how much we appreciate your support and partnership. As you know, the ACRE family of brands continues to deliver global security systems for access control and intrusion detection as well as innovative video solutions with a communication networking and intelligent appliance portfolio. Our comprehensive solutions provided by ACRE’s family of companies (Open Options, Vanderbilt, RS2 Technologies, ComNet, and Razberi) help secure the highest valued assets of large and small customers operating in the private and public sectors. 

We are so thankful that we get to work with and support security professionals like yourself. During the week, the ACRE global and regional offices will remain open from Monday, November 22nd to Wednesday, November 24th providing world-class support from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT. Our offices will be closed in observance of Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 25th, and Friday, November 26th. 

Just as a friendly reminder, calls placed after hours, on weekends, or holidays are handled by our automated answering service. Follow the instructions to leave a message and callback number, and a representative will return your call as soon as possible. Please keep in mind any email directed to technical support may not be answered until offices reopen. *Additional charges may apply for phone support after hours and on holiday.

Thank you, and have a great Thanksgiving holiday!  

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.

The Challenge

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? 

The Solution

 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."

Hiking, Biking, and Access Control

An Open Options and Specialized Bicycle Components Success Story

Located just south of San Jose, California, in Morgan Hill, Specialized Bicycle Components has grown into one of the most successful bicycle manufacturers in the world. For more than 40 years, their business has operated from the ground up on a campus that includes three facilities totaling 250,000 square feet. Visitors and more than 400 employees regularly traverse the dynamic complex, which hosts a variety of unique and wonderfully eccentric facilities.

Specialized Bicycle is an American brand of bicycles and related products that has always maintained a sharp focus on providing a better biking experience for all riders. Specialized's success lies in their ability to expertly design and develop road, mountain, fitness, utility, and BMX bicycles as well as equipment and gear while working hard to protect trade secrets in this highly competitive market.

The Challenge

Upon entering the impressive lobby of Specialized headquarters, visitors can instantly access the history of this exceptional company in the Specialized museum that showcases the 40-plus year history of the brand and includes race-winning bicycles, original production pieces, and even extreme sports legend Shaun Palmer's downhill race bike. Visitors find themselves on a quiet street facing a real-life example of a storefront that was expertly recreated to illustrate how these top-of-the-line products should be showcased. With state-of-the-art facilities comes an imperative need for reliable and cutting-edge security. 

There are many challenges associated with securing Specialized, including theft protection and loss prevention, general security for employees, and protecting the company's highly confidential trade secrets, which are safeguarded at headquarters. Although they had an access control solution in place for nearly a decade, Head of Security, Alfredo Echauri, put the brakes on the previous provider and sought out a better solution. "The access control provider in place at the time required an expert level of access control user knowledge, which made it extremely difficult to use and therefore ineffective," says Echauri. 

So, Specialized Bicycle Components explored replacement options while keeping expense in mind, as they did not want to lose their initial hardware investment by converting to a new system. 

That's when they discovered Open Options.

The Solution 

Open Options provided Specialized with a complete security solution along with the added benefits of ease of use and the customer-centric nature of DNA Fusion that was exactly what Specialized was seeking. Because Specialized had Mercury Security hardware control panels installed, the conversion from their existing access control solution to DNA Fusion was seamless. The panels, readers, locks, and all other hardware infrastructure were able to stay in place while their existing database was converted to use the DNA Fusion access control software. 

The Specialized deployment consisted of access control coverage for more than 50 doors throughout the complex. The supporting hardware for the installation was the existing and new Mercury Security authentic hardware supplied by Open Options, including LP1502 intelligent door controllers, MR52 reader sub-controllers, and RP 405 HID readers.

Echauri says he was surprised at how smooth of a ride it has been from the existing system to Open Options, and is glad Specialized had invested in open architecture hardware from Mercury to help facilitate the transition.

"You don't expect to have to change access control software providers mid-ride, but we are so grateful at the options we had because we wisely chose an open platform hardware solution. As world-renowned winners in bicycle racing, we know that it takes a winning team to deliver an excellent product, and we are extremely pleased with our technology partners," says Echauri.

The Art of Security

An Open Options and Worcester Art Museum Success Story

Located just an hour west of Boston, the Worcester Art Museum is world-renowned for its 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculptures, photographic prints, drawings, new media, and more. Spanning more than 5,000 years of art culture, the permanent collection includes paintings by some of the most well-known names in the world of art: Monet, Gauguin, Cassatt, and Whistler. From pieces that span the ancient, like the city of Antioch, to cutting-edge contemporary art, you can find almost every genre represented. And because the collections housed in the Worcester Art Museum are priceless and irreplaceable, utilizing a comprehensive security solution is essential.

The Challenge

With more than 250 employees with varying levels of access, the Worcester Art Museum needed an easy-to-use access control solution that provided the strictest security and integrated with their existing video surveillance software management system. 

“The institution’s most valuable assets are hung on the walls in public spaces,” said Worcester Art Museum Security and Safety Manager, Michael Warren. “This presents especially difficult challenges in protecting the assets from being touched, vandalized, or stolen. Technology can assist in protecting these assets but the bulk of our effort is spent developing people that respond to customer needs as well as the security needs of the collection.”

Warren said the previous security system wasn’t cohesive and included six separate vendors to provide access control, video, and alarm coverage. The alarm system in particular experienced many problems, including multiple false alarms.  Enter Open Options.

The Solution 

At the recommendation of their trusted system integrators, the Worcester Art Museum chose Open Options’ DNA Fusion as the access control management software provider. DNA Fusion provides a unified security platform including access control, video integration, and photo ID management in an open platform and best-of-breed approach by partnering with leading systems manufacturers. With DNA Fusion, the large museum can be easily managed via a standard thick client, a web browser, or Apple and Android smartphones. “DNA Fusion is quicker and more intuitive as if it were designed by a user. The ability to customize toolbars, for example, and to have granular control over user accounts has proved to be very valuable in our operation,” said Worcester Art Museum Director of Operations Fran Pedone. 

The Worcester Art Museum security team has embraced DNA Fusion and this seamless integration with their existing video and intrusion systems. The staff reports ease-of-use as one of the key benefits of DNA Fusion, which Pedone described as very important when training new employees. “Navigating the system proved to be clear, efficient, and useful. Most controls and settings are apparent without the use of the included documentation, which itself is detailed and well-written.” A high priority for the museum was to cover the entire perimeter of the facility with multiple layers of protection including video analytics, door contacts, and motion sensor technologies," said Warren.

“Open Options has allowed our museum to integrate all three technologies, creating a user-friendly interface for monitoring and controlling the various systems.” The museum uses several security workstations distributed throughout the facility which are operated by security guards and managers.

The use of DNA Fusion will grow as the museum continues to refine its Emergency Preparation and Response Plan. The museum has a multi-year plan for expansion of access control throughout the facility and they intend to expand the system every year as more funds become available. Warren said he is confident based on their experience with Open Options and DNA Fusion that they have invested in a solid security provider.

Open Options Partners with Invixium Biometrics

Open Options is proud to announce a strategic partnership with Invixium that will allow DNA Fusion customers to access Invixium’s biometric solutions.

The foundation of this partnership is the integration of Invixium products with DNA Fusion through Invixium’s software platform, IXM WEB. What makes this integration possible is IXM Link, allowing automatic synchronization of cardholder data between the two software databases. Synchronization of cardholder data grants Open Options customers streamlined installation, setup, and use of Invixium solutions.

In 2020, Invixium pivoted from their core fingerprint technology to focus on touchless biometric solutions aimed at healthy access, prompting their desire to partner with Open Options. The touchless Invixium solution enables organizations to follow evolving health guidelines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond without compromising speed, accuracy, or security.

“Organizations are aggressively moving toward the idea of the consolidated, secure enterprise to reduce vulnerabilities and ensure safety, and part of this effort is integrating with emerging technologies that can advance security postures,” said Chuck O’Leary, Vice President, Americas Access Control, ACRE. “Open Options integration with Invixium is designed to offer significant value to these entities, allowing them to manage their access control requirements in an integrated fashion that’s easy to manage and is proven to reduce costs.”

Our flagship product, DNA Fusion is intended to revolutionize the access control industry by removing many of the limitations to enterprise deployment inherent in common access control applications. An open architecture platform, DNA Fusion alleviates these issues by making it more intuitive to manage personnel, set use limits, control access privileges, and more. DNA Fusion additionally empowers stakeholders to monitor several systems, including audio and IP video recording, through a common interface, giving users access to the data they need when they need it.

“Our integration with Open Options marks our thirteenth ACM integration,” said Shiraz Kapadia, CEO & President at Invixium. “Extending our ecosystem allows us to offer healthy access to a wider range of businesses. We are proud to partner with organizations with common synergies and shared values such as our mutual commitment to quality and innovation.”

The integration between IXM WEB and DNA Fusion is available for IXM WEB 2.2.65.0 or later and DNA Fusion 8.1.

The Benefits of Open Platform Access Control in Educational Environments

Article First Featured on ISC News

As we return to a post-COVID society, the need for stronger, more streamlined security solutions in educational facilities has never been greater. Open platform access control solutions have numerous benefits, including monitoring several systems through a common interface, and integration with other systems.  In addition to access control, it's important to note that video management is a crucial aspect of security, especially in an educational setting. Therefore, equipping schools with a robust, highly flexible access control solution that allows for extensive integration will significantly strengthen the facilities' infrastructure. 

In 2021, more than 90% of public schools are already using some type of access control and video surveillance systems. While access control typically serves as the primary component of a security system, coupling it with other technologies such as video management, wireless locks, visitor management, and more, allows for a well-rounded solution covering multiple aspects of school security. 

Curious as to how one school leveraged open platform access control solutions in educational facilities, and how each security infrastructure was upgraded to become more robust, more streamlined, and easier to manage? Read below how this growing and evolving school district puts a focus on security while opening the door to future capabilities and integrations.

Big enough to serve you; small enough to know you

This is the mantra of the Littleton Public School District – or more commonly known as LPS – is located just 10 miles outside Denver's bustling downtown and serves several communities within the southern Denver metropolitan area. LPS is the fifteenth largest school district in Colorado, operating three high schools, four middle schools, 13 elementary schools, a preschool, two charter schools, and several alternative programs that span over 29 miles. The district is responsible for more than 15,000 students day-to-day and employs over 2,500 faculty and staff. 

Managing security and access for this amount of people can be a challenge, especially given all other security factors campuses face. Still, the LPS campuses are also open for use within the Littleton community.

"Schools are often not only educational facilities, but also centerpieces of the community," said Guy Grace, Director of Security and Emergency Planning, LPS. "For 15 hours a day, a significant part of our community is in our schools for learning, extracurricular activities, or community use, so we must get the security right. In the past, there were significant challenges that arose when the school district deployed security technology. Often, the older technology did not evolve with new threats, and as a result, became obsolete." 

LPS' former access control provider was proprietary and was not PoE (Power over Ethernet) compatible. PoE describes the cabling that passes electrical power and data, allowing a single cable to provide both the data connection and electrical power to devices such as door controllers and IP security cameras. PoE infrastructure results in lower cost, greater flexibility with installation, and overall more functionality than traditional wiring. As a result, the school district can adapt to and minimize new weaknesses. 

Grace and his staff were adamant about implementing technology to provide an integrated approach to a safer school by utilizing PoE to ultimately achieve a full-edged Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) system. PSIM is a category of software designed to integrate multiple, unconnected security applications and devices and control them through one comprehensive user interface. 

"In wanting to bring this big vision to the school district, we looked at procedures and technologies that would enhance school security and improve the learning environment," said Grace. "One of the most important tiers we wanted to meet was a complete installation of a PoE cabling infrastructure district-wide that would allow us to use non-proprietary systems, which helps us bring the best technology into the district."

As Grace began the vendor selection process for the upgrade, he looked at consistently evolving suppliers. This would allow the district to grow alongside its service providers as new features and technologies became available. "Our overall security goal is pretty simple," said Grace. "We must have quality technology delivering quality results because we cannot have a successful educational experience without safety and security being well taken care of."

Grace and his team sought an access control provider that could integrate with their chosen technology providers and a user-friendly interface that allowed multiple operators to utilize the system. 

The Open Options' cloud-hosted access control platform, DNA Fusion, integrates with other systems and has mobile and web applications. Because of this, LPS also utilizes other elements of the platform to enhance its overall security. "The web and mobile components of the software ensure we can access and manage security from almost anywhere – we receive alerts of open doors, forced entries, etc., straight to our mobile devices or remote desktops.

Grace and his team found the flexibility of programming time schedules and access levels highly beneficial in daily operations across the district. Security differs from campus to campus; for instance, there are time schedules in place for specific doors operated by security officers at the high school campuses, but the elementary and middle schools remain locked throughout the day except for student arrival and dismissal times. Access levels vary by employee, with some having 24/7 access to all buildings while others only have access specific to the building they work in. 

"We do provide access cards to area law enforcement," said Grace. "In a lockdown situation, only police and certain security personnel have access for immediate entry.

LPS believes that a security system must be deployed in a customizable manner for the school and its daily operations that enhance the abilities of teachers to teach and students to learn. In addition, a security system must ultimately have the ability to be deployed and work efficiently around the clock for many different needs. With this in mind, LPS currently has 29 sites utilizing the DNA Fusion platform with plans to have over 150 operators district-wide. 

"We expect the system to evolve for the needs of the district for years to come," said Grace. "Security is never static, so the system must be proactive like the people that use it."

Open for the Future

Access control is a critical security solution for schools and other educational facilities that are focused on protecting the lives of their students and staff. Open platform access control solutions that provide highly flexible integration with other security systems, such as video surveillance and management, are ideal, as these are the two main methods used in educational settings. Ultimately, utilizing a flexible access control solution provides a robust and safe way for students and staff to safely enter the campus, travel between classes, and exit the premises while being given the peace of mind that they are being protected from any harmful influences.