Monitoring Town Hall
A year ago, the only security at the town hall of Chatham, N.J. was keyed door locks. Yet as the number of town hall employees continued to grow, and as the equipment contained within the town hall became more expensive, the need for a sophisticated security system became obvious.
The town hall, built around 1910, now houses the police department and many of the city’s offices. The building is comprised of three floors, each covering roughly 8,000 square feet. Located on the bottom level of the building is the police department’s new communication center, which is manned at all times and is the operational hub for dispatchers working with police, volunteer firefighters and EMS services. Three jail cells located on the bottom level act as temporary holding spaces for those awaiting trial. The middle level of the town hall is primarily comprised of municipal offices, and the third level features the Board of Education offices and the courtroom.
“As our town and municipal organizations grew throughout the years, we have implemented a number of new technologies to better protect and serve our residents,” says Lt. Steve Ambrose of the Chatham Borough Police Department. “But we took a step back and realized we were not providing adequate protection and monitoring for the town hall itself. Throughout each day there were a lot of people coming and going, and we had no way to monitor their movements or track who was going where. But because the town hall has a lot of historical significance, tearing it down and building a new one was out of the question. So, we chose to update our surveillance network.”
The city chose Advanced Video Surveillance Inc. (AVS), Fairfield, N.J., to oversee the installation of an “intuitive” security system with up-to-date components to more adequately fortify the facility. AVS installed a system comprised of a video network of 25 Pelco cameras, an Integral Technologies DVR, an AMAG access control system with card readers and electronic door locks and a remote monitoring system for other municipal buildings. To house of the network’s components, the installer chose on an ERK-4025 rack from Middle Atlantic Products, Riverdale, N.J. “It was able to house all of the necessary components without taking up a lot of space, allowing for easier access to components and wiring and for components to be added in the future,” says Michael Riotto, vice president of AVS.
The CCTV network monitors the outside of the building and the three jail cells. The pan/tilt/zoom cameras are on at all times and are triggered to record by movement.
With this new network, the department of public works can also use the system to distribute temporary security solutions for town events and remote monitoring systems. Dispatchers can also monitor remote burglar and fire alarms from a command center within the town hall. The borough’s water supply is also monitored to ensure that water levels do not drop too low and to dispatch police officers should there be a water facility alarm.
“For the scope of this project, all of the components we used gave us the right amount of flexibility for connecting and expanding the system,” Riotto says.
Each town hall employee was issued an ID card and key fob to allow him or her electronic access through certain doors throughout the town hall. The new door lock system provides a number of other benefits, including easier tracking of employees’ entry into certain areas. The system also makes it easier to add and remove personnel from having access privileges to certain areas of the building. It also records who enters and exits the doors on its hard drive and can electronically lock doors at designated times.
“These components are intuitive, reliable and more effective and, in long run, should save us money while helping keep our citizens safe,” Ambrose says.