ACCESS CONTROL/Securing the premises
San Luis Obispo County, Calif., has upgraded the security at its historic courthouse by installing computer-managed locksets on several interior doors. Like a networked, hard-wired lock system, the locksets allow county departments to grant access only to individuals with appropriate access devices and to keep track of when employees enter the building.
San Luis Obispo County’s historic courthouse, designed in 1934, is one of the oldest buildings in the county. Originally, it housed the county’s courthouse and jail, but currently it houses the offices for the Public Works Department, Planning and Building Department, and the Information Technology (IT) Department, among others.
The IT Department is located on the top floor of the courthouse, which originally was used as the county jail. As such, it is the most secure floor of the building and houses sensitive computer equipment, including the county’s mainframe, which is manned 24 hours a day. Despite existing security precautions, the department had been the target of burglaries in the past.
To ensure the security of the department’s equipment, IT managers wanted to be able to grant access to the floor only to authorized personnel. The county’s standard key locks, which were installed on the department’s doors, posed problems because, if employees lost their keys, individuals who found them could use the keys to gain access to the floor. Also, if employees were terminated, the department had to re-key the locks and re-issue keys to employees.
The department considered installing a networked, hard-wired access control system on the floor that could be programmed to allow only individuals with authorized security cards to enter. The computerized system also would keep a log of which employees entered rooms and when.
Although that type of system was appealing to IT department managers, it would have required that installers drill holes into the walls and ceilings to run the wires from the doors to a central computer. That would have been a problem in the historic building that has solid ceilings and walls.
Instead of the networked system, managers decided to install stand-alone “Locknetics on Board,” computer-managed locksets, by Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Schlage, that can be programmed to allow access to authorized employees and to store a record of usage. The IT Department manages the locking system using LockLink software installed on a personal computer. Hand-held computers are used to remotely program the locks and download audits.
Employees are assigned magnetic keyfobs that are programmed with individual identification numbers. Each lockset can be programmed to allow employees access depending on their level of security clearance. If an employee is terminated, the department needs only to remove that identification number from the locksets, and that employee no longer can get in the doors. If someone loses his or her keyfob, the department can strike that number from the locksets and issue a new keyfob to the employee.
The IT Department installed the locksets on six doors on its floor in January 2003. It also installed a lockset in the building’s elevator. To gain access to the top floor after regular business hours and on weekends, employees need to touch their keyfobs to the lock in the elevator before it will rise to the top floor.
The county paid approximately $500 per lock and $1,000 for the lock-programming software and hand-held computer. Each keyfob cost $5. When construction of the county’s new government center is completed in September, many of the interior and exterior doors will feature the computer-managed locksets. The IT Department has been satisified with the performance of the locks and the improved security in the old courthouse.