Success Story: Connected Campus

An integrated security platform is instrumental to security at the Berklee College of Music


Boston’s Berklee College of Music is the world’s largest independent college of contemporary music. With prestigious alumni including Grammy winners Melissa Etheridge, Bruce Hornsby, Quincy Jones and more, it’s not surprising that the school attracts the many of the most gifted young musicians from around the globe. The college is home to about 4,200 students, 25 percent of which are international students.

Located in an urban environment, with a large number of access points and thousands of people walking in and out of buildings on a daily basis, Berklee needed to create a safe environment. School officials chose the OnGuard security platform from Lenel Systems Intl. as the backbone for its security, with all access control, alarm, video and ID issuance and control functions integrated on the single system. GS Security of New England is the systems integrator.

The college’s Public Safety Department provides 24-hour access control at the residence halls and other buildings, with security personnel always available to assist campus residents. However, students aren’t the only people for whom Berklee must provide a safe environment — there are a significant number of retail tenants. “All the buildings that we own in Boston at the ground level, first floor, are retail establishments,” says Roy Murphy, CPP, Berklee’s Director of Public Safety. “We actually own buildings and have tenants. We’re a landlord and so what that means to us is that after 5 pm if any of those tenants have a problem they call our control center.”

The access control and intrusion detection system includes almost 200 card readers around campus. Entry and egress doors are equipped with door contact sensors that set off an alarm when the door is forced or held open. There are also 25 panic alarms on campus and a mix of video motion and intrusion sensors. Berklee has a single-card system for all its students, faculty, staff and contractors that encompasses administration badge access and photo ID. The college ensures that only authorized individuals are granted access to certain areas, especially dormitories. Access control at Berklee is accomplished by leveraging both physical (posted officers) and electronic (badge readers and the Berklee ID card) security measures. Entry doors are secured after normal business hours and only accessible through the use of a card reader and authorized access badge. “When I got here almost five years ago, we had 35 badges…today, we have more than 6,000 badges and almost 200 card readers,” Murphy says. “At first, they didn’t know what a card reader was and now the faculty, in particular, love the card readers because they can gain access to a building after hours.”

Berklee is migrating from HID Prox cards to an HID iCLASS environment with multiCLASS multi-technology readers. The college’s one-card system is truly multi-purpose and integrates with a number of networks on and off campus. A magnetic stripe on the card is for food vending and a bar code links to the library. As a new student or faculty staff member is added to the OnGuard system, the person’s Windows Active Directory account is automatically updated. A network logon account is activated at the same time that an ID badge is issued.

For surveillance, Berklee operates nearly 200 video cameras – a third of which are IP-based. The system uses 16 DVRs and three Network Video Recorders (NVRs) from Lenel. “We’ve established a very good relationship with IT to support our deployment campus-wide,” says Nicholas Costa, Systems Manager at Berklee. “Without them, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we have been, especially with the IP camera integration.”

OnGuard captures and stores the video, then aggregates and transmits the images back to the Berklee public safety department’s control center. Campus security is able to acknowledge alarms, control cardholder access to specific areas, view real-time video and display an interactive map using the software.