The County of Simcoe, located just one hour north of Toronto, is dubbed as “The Place of All Seasons.” Its vast landscapes offer residents and visitors sun-kissed beaches, biking and hiking trails, championship golf, fishing, skiing and shops for the antiques enthusiast. One could say the county's security challenges are just as diverse as its scenic terrain.
Simcoe is comprised of 16 municipalities, towns and townships. The county employs hundreds of people that work on and oversee many of the services that sustain quality of life for its residents. The county is responsible for services including roads and engineering, forestry, environmental, transportation, housing and bylaw enforcement.
Chris Harper, real estate and facilities manager for the County of Simcoe, helps to manage and oversee security systems for the county's buildings, which include the main administration building; Ontario Works offices, which provide income and employment assistance for people who are in temporary financial need; and four long-term health care facilities. The administration building houses all senior management division heads, the County Council and County Council Chamber, and one Ontario Works office. In all, the administration building houses 300 employees.
Many of the county-run offices are strategically located throughout the county to best serve all residents regardless of age, background and/or financial need. Unlike corporate settings, county buildings are open to and used by the public on a regular basis. For example, the County Council Chambers are used frequently throughout the month for public meetings. As a result, security leaders must ensure the proper tools are in place to protect county employees, confidential documents and plans, and the people who the county serves.
Harper called on Hamilton, Ontario-based Aatel Communications Inc., an integration company that provides communication, security and life safety solutions, to upgrade its security system using a variety of products — including Axis Communications video encoders and network cameras.
With Aatel's guidance, Harper was able to make changes to various office buildings around the county that enabled security officials to view video remotely and leverage existing tools, providing significant cost savings for the county.
Stepping up Protection in the Administration Building
In the past, the administration building used a motion detection system and a swipe card system for a portion of the doors. One challenge the county faced was the constant deactivation of the motion detection system, especially for employees who came into work outside of normal business hours. The problem was, the system wasn't just deactivated in one wing or one area of the building; it was deactivated building-wide, leaving the offices and staff vulnerable to break-ins should they have occurred. Only a portion of the doors had swipe card systems, while others were operated by keys, which can be lost and are hard to manage.
In addition to the motion detection system and swipe card system, three analog cameras were strategically placed to monitor staff entrances in two wings of the building plus the shipping and receiving doors in the third wing of the building. The cameras were wired back to the reception desk at the main entrance, which allowed the receptionist to see activity around those particular doors real-time, but no one else in a remote location could view incoming video.
The county wanted to upgrade the system to allow additional authorities to view the video and view it remotely.
As an answer to the county's problems, officials replaced the intrusion detection alarm system and the swipe card system with one system that provides both capabilities in a simplified manner. The new system can be deactivated in one area rather than building-wide, and the new card reader access system was installed on all doors, giving the security team the ability to control access to each of them.