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AMAG Protects Palm Beach County School District

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					                                             AMAG Protects Palm Beach
                                             County School District
Jim Kelly, chief of the Palm Beach         One of the ongoing budgetary drains
County (Fla.) School District Police       that Kelly and his team have
Department, has spent many a               eliminated is re-keying costs.
sleepless night worrying about the         Various school faculty or staff will be    “Symmetry Enterprise
children under his protection. “We’ve      assigned a “master” key that can
put forth a lot of effort to protect our   open any of the doors within a             functions like a
airports and utilities, but
comparatively little attention has
                                           particular school. “A lost key
                                           previously cost us between $10,000
                                                                                      transparent
been paid to protecting our most           and $20,000 to re-key a school,”           gatekeeper,” says Ron
valuable — and vulnerable —                Kelly says.
assets, our elementary schools,” he                                                   Plucinski, security
says. He turned to technology to get
results.
                                           The solution came in the form of an
                                           electronic access control system
                                                                                      systems manager for
                                           developed by AMAG Technology.              the PBCSD Police
The school district is the nation’s        AMAG’s Symmetry Enterprise
11th largest, with more than 185           system, using HID proximity cards          Department. “Just a
facilities responsible for over            instead of keys, enables the security
170,000 K-12 students, plus 21,000+        department to grant staff members
                                                                                      few years ago, almost
teachers and administrative staff.         variable access to school facilities. If   anyone could walk
Sixteen departments help run the           a person loses their card, they are
school and county government               simply issued a new one, while the         onto a public school
entities.                                  access privileges associated with
                                           their lost card are deleted from the
                                                                                      campus. But all that
The first part of Kelly’s job is           cardholder database, thus there is         has changed now, and
securing a budget, which is divided        no need to change locks and issue
among police staffing and systems,         new keys.                                  access control
such as access control, video,
intrusion alarms, and other physical       Beyond saving money, Symmetry              technology helps us
security measures. “We’ve always
had to battle for the money we
                                           Enterprise delivers enhanced
                                           security without adding headcount or
                                                                                      negotiate our access
needed because anything we                 disrupting the teaching environment.       and safety priorities.”
purchased was seen as taking away          “The access control system functions
from direct, instructional purposes,”      like a transparent gatekeeper,”
says Ron Plucinski, security systems       Plucinski says. “Just a few years
manager for the PBCSD Police               ago, almost anyone could walk onto
Department.                                a public school campus. But all that
                                           has changed now, and access
Kelly and his team continuously            control technology helps us
investigate new technologies that will     negotiate our access and safety
make the best use of their personnel       priorities.”
and budgetary resources. “Non-
instructional personnel are hard to        The system is centrally monitored
come by,” Plucinski explains, “so we       and controlled. Technicians from the
are always looking at technology that      district’s security department have
will make better use of our existing       equipped each of the districts over
staff.”                                    185-plus facilities with access control
AMAG Protects Palm Beach County School District
systems. Over 40 schools have been        with video surveillance capabilities     • classroom intercom and panic
completed to date, with each school       will typically have between 15 and 30    buttons for teachers.
using a variable number of                cameras per campus, depending on
Symmetry multiNODE controller             the layout of the facility. At the        One advantage to this kind of inter-
panels to talk to the 2,500 HID           district’s elementary schools, where     departmental integration is that the
proximity readers and door hardware       delinquency is less of a problem than    departments can pool their budgets
installed at critical entrance points.    at the middle and high schools, the      to acquire systems they would not
One of the panels functions as a          responsibility of monitoring the         individually be able to afford.
parent to the other panels and            cameras is an ancillary function of      “The more areas a piece of
connects over the district’s wide-area    the school’s clerical staff. Web-        technology can address, the more
network (WAN) to upload                   based monitoring through a browser       attractive and affordable it is,” Kelly
transactional data and download           interface is provided to elementary      says.
modifications to the cardholder           school principals and police staff. In
database administrated at the district    middle- and high school situations,      He also hopes that the discoveries
headquarters. Two client                  the administration will rotate daily     and solutions he and his team had
workstations reside at the                monitoring responsibilities to faculty   made will benefit his peers in school
headquarters — one is used to issue       or staff members. This ensures           districts nationwide.
visitor badges to the high volume of      adequate surveillance without
traffic that flows into and out of the    needing to add anyone to the payroll.    “All schools have the same issues,”
headquarters each day, and the            All of the cameras can be monitored      Kelly continues. “Our hope is that
other is located within the police        over the WAN at the district             districts that may not have the
department and handles most of the        headquarters.                            financial resources we do will be
district’s photo-ID badging services.                                              able to take what we have learned
The entire system, including the          Kelly maintains a forward looking        and apply it in their particular
dozens of schools currently online        perspective in discovering new ways      situations.”
manages approximately 21,000              to make the district and its students
cardholders (only for staff).             safer and more confident in the
                                          security of their surroundings. To
Another innovation relates to             ensure that the investments he is
providing after-hours access to           making today will enable him to take
faculty and staff. The typical solution   advantage of the technology
would be to install a telephone           advances of tomorrow, Kelly
outside the main door(s) with a direct    demands that any electronic security
line to a central dispatch station. The   system his department acquires
problem with that arrangement is          uses industry-standard, non-
that anyone can pick up the phone         proprietary components. The
and call the dispatch center, which       selection of the Symmetry access
must then try to authenticate the         control system is one good example
person’s identity. To solve this          of this commitment. “We are not only
problem, Plucinski has replaced the       looking at the AMAG system to
telephone with an HID reader and          provide security but also a platform
intercom. When a faculty or staff         we can build on,” Kelly says.
member wants access, they present
their card to the proximity reader,       Some examples of Kelly’s access
which triggers the intercom to dial       control integration plans:
the dispatch center. This ensures         • biometric readers in the classroom
that only valid cardholders can           to automate taking attendance;
submit their requests for access,         • biometric readers on school buses
eliminating any erroneous calls and       to better track students while in the
the possible malicious intentions that    care of the schools;
motivate them.                            • smart cards for cafeteria or vending
                                          purchases and library transactions;
Another critical component of the         • time and attendance capabilities to
school district’s security system is      staff payroll; and
video surveillance. Schools outfitted

				
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