College and universities have become much more aware of security in recent years and many have begun to update their security systems. One college that has extensively enhanced the capability of its system is Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC).

KCKCC recently completed a campus-wide installation that includes not only access control and video surveillance; it also provides fire detection and emergency notification — and all of the systems are integrated through a controller from Rochester, N.Y.-based Lenel Systems Int’l, enabling them to operate as a single, seamless system.

“Our goals were to get rid of nine separate fire alarm systems and to have one modern one that met some type of modern standard of efficiency,” described Brian Bode, acting associate provost of finance and institutional services for KCKCC. “We had no security system in place, and in light of the changes in college campus violence and security, we wanted to have something.”

KCKCC initially contacted WSKF Architects of Kansas City, Mo., about its goals. WSKF enlisted the help of two consulting firms — MMCS of Overland Park, Kan., and PKMR Engineers, also based in Overland Park. TED Systems, a Shawnee, Kan.-based systems integrator, assisted in budgeting and system configuration and was later selected to engineer the project, to install the security system and to integrate the security system with the fire system, which was installed by Four Star Electric of Parkville, Mo. Four Star Electric also acted as the general contractor for the project.

The campus-wide installation includes 77 doors of card access based on equipment from Lenel, 103 Internet protocol (IP)-based video cameras from Chelmsford, Mass.-based Axis Communications, a fire system from Honeywell’s Northford, Conn.-based Notifier unit, and an emergency notification system from React Systems of Roseville, Calif.

“Lenel is the integration platform for tying together the systems from Notifier and React and the access and video systems,” explained Herb Farnsworth, general manager and co-founder of TED Systems.

Campus police monitor the system most of the time. During off-hours, the system has the capability of automatically sending text, e-mail or voice mail alerts to a roving guard, detailing exactly what has occurred and where.

Because the fire and security systems are integrated, the complete system has numerous capabilities that would not be possible with stand-alone systems. “If a fire pull station gets pulled in a hallway, you can automatically link to a video camera and see if there’s a situation in that hallway,” Farnsworth related. “You can go back in quickly via the linkage and look at what happened 30 seconds before to see who pulled it and you can see if there is smoke in the hallway.”

During a fire, the video capability also could play a critical role in determining which exits are usable — and that information could be communicated throughout the facility using the emergency notification system. Some messages are pre-programmed into the emergency notification system and are automatically generated in response to certain conditions.

For example, a digitized voice message might alert people to a fire in the library and advise them to evacuate to the nearest exit. In addition, security or emergency personnel can use a microphone to speak directly through the system.

The emergency alert system has been set up to support tornado alerts, which could be a big benefit in Dorothy and Toto’s home state. Although KCKCC hasn’t had to use that capability yet, a procedure for it has been established and tested.

The new system is a far cry from what KCKCC had in the past. Previously, the only form of security at the college was a set of panic buttons installed at various locations around the campus, which buzzed in the campus police office. “You had to search down who pushed it — the system didn’t tell you where,” Bode recalled.

A similar situation would occur in the event of a fire alarm. Emergency personnel knew that an alarm had been initiated, but had to check out each location to determine where it had occurred and what had caused it.

A side benefit of the new fire and security system at KCKCC is that it helped expand the capabilities of the campus computer network. Previously, “one-third of the buildings weren’t even looped in and some had just one fiber strand to get e-mail,” Bode said. Because the new fire and security system required a network connection to every building, the college is now fully connected and has the network capacity to support future growth.

By choosing a networked system, the college also has reduced the number of phone lines required to support the fire system from two per building to just two for the whole system. A Notifier panel in each building communicates with the central monitoring point, enabling two phone lines at the monitoring point to support the entire system.

The campus network also made IP cameras a logical choice, Farnsworth says. ”If you have more than 50 cameras and an IP backbone, it makes sense to go to IP cameras,” he stated.

One of the biggest challenges about the KCKCC installation was that it had a timeline of just six months. “TED Systems and Four Star were just awesome,” Bode commented. “They put the system in while classes were running and that’s a difficult thing to do. If a classroom was empty for 15 minutes, someone was putting a sensor in it.”

KCKCC is currently in the process of adding additional features to the system.

The integrated fire and security system at KCKCC has been well received by staff, students and faculty. The new system has been a “morale and safety booster,” Bode said. Campus police already have pulled in people caught on video committing theft and as a result, Bode said, “The word is out that there are cameras.”

As Farnsworth noted, “If you’re doing what you’re not supposed to be doing, you’re being watched. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to be, you’re more secure.”