New Access Control System Increases Utility Security

Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, the Atlanta-Fulton Water Commission had already made a conscious decision to do something about improving its security system.

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By Donna Nensel and Robert Cieslak

Prior to the events of September 11, 2001, the Atlanta-Fulton Water Commission had already made a conscious decision to do something about improving its security system. The 9/11 event was a big factor in speeding up the process, according to Terry Jones, Assistant Manager for U.S. Filter.

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The CyberLock technology, developed by Videx Inc., is compatible with all types of lock hardware commonly found in facilities.
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The Atlanta-Fulton County Water Treatment Plant, located in Alpharetta, is one of the largest water treatment facilities in the state of Georgia. Operated by US Filter, which manages 550 plants throughout the U.S. treating 40 billion gallons of water per day, the facility was recently named the Water Treatment Plant of the Year 2003, presented by the Georgia Water and Pollution Control Association (GWPCA.)

In 2002, the staff began a concerted effort to increase access control within and around the facility. The commission options ranged from expanding a previously existing card access system to implementing a total solution throughout.

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A single key can be used to operate all the different types of locks typically found at a water treatment facility.
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Water treatment plants have a variety of access points that must remain securely locked — or where access must be controlled. These include main entrances and office doors, storage and treatment areas, pumping stations, gates, computer cabinets that house control systems, chemical feed areas and remote locations.

The commission selected the CyberLock™ Access Control system for its versatility, ease of installation, and increased security. They also felt the cost of implementation was reasonable compared to other forms of access control, and installed the system throughout, including remote sites.

This particular technology, developed by Videx Inc., is compatible with all types of lock hardware commonly found in facilities. Most other types of access control are limited to a particular manufacturer's own hardware, and restricted to limited door applications only. The CyberLocks, however, can be retrofitted into all kinds of existing door locks, cabinet locks, cam locks, padlocks, switch locks, and can be used to control gates, elevators, and other devices, such as locks on panic devices. A single key operates different types of Schlage™, Best™, Yale™, Sargent™, Corbin Russwin™, Falcon™, and other manufacturers' hardware.

Implementation of the new locking system used Atlanta-Fulton County Water's existing lock hardware, and did not require any wiring, additional hardware or power source. The project began with a pre-site inspection to prepare an inventory of all the different hardware including the lock type, manufacturer name and model number together with a projected key count.

The system software can run on a standalone PC or on a network with access rights and user privileges. In this case, the software was installed on a Windows based PC and the employees names were entered. Individual access schedules for the employees were created and assigned to their keys.

Lock cores were individually pre-programmed at the PC and then installed later that day. Programming a lock and key takes seconds using the software, which can accommodate an unlimited number of locks, keys and databases.

Existing manual lock cylinders were pulled and replaced with the corresponding CyberLock cylinder. It took 10 minutes or less to retrofit each lock.

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CyberLocks can be retrofitted into all kinds of existing door locks, cabinet locks, cam locks, padlocks, switch locks, and can be used to control gates, elevators, and other devices.
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Corporate Systems of Atlanta, GA, was the contractor and installer on the project. Because of the simplicity of the system, the retrofits could have been performed by the water plant's facilities engineering or locksmith personnel, a company spokesman said.

With the new system, the Atlanta-Fulton Water Commission can create and assign restricted access schedules and access times to each user's key, including start dates and an expiration dates. The locks are specifically designed without a keyway, making them pickproof, and resistant to vandalism, forced blows, and other forms of attack.

The keys are electronic and can not be duplicated. They contain a small three volt camera/photo battery and memory chip.

Terry Jones, Assistant Manager for U.S. Filter, said that the security system has done everything that he was told it could do and more.

Beneficial features of the system are being able to block a lost or missing key; being able to control access to locks by individually programming each person's key; and being able to obtain a complete audit trail of all activity (entry events including access denied attempts, outside of schedule access attempts, and date and time of event from either the key or the lock). An added benefit is being able to use a single key to open all the different locks at the facility.

"Being able to issue a key to a contractor that restricts his access, so that you do not have to watch over them and control where they can go, is a big plus," Jones said.

The addition of CyberLock™ to the already state-of-the-art facility has improved the Atlanta-Fulton Water security system. The worries of re-keying and re-coring are tasks relegated to the past. The system is managed by the water treatment personnel and not outside sources.

"They have been able to implement and maintain an increased security plan when alert levels issued by the government change rapidly," Jones said.

About the Authors: Robert D. Cieslak is President of Corporate Systems, Atlanta, GA, and Donna Nensel is Business Development Manager for Corporate Systems. Corporate Systems provides turnkey access control systems for retrofit and new construction applications. For more information, they may be reached at 404-943-1163, or by email at info@corporatesystemsinc.net

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