Columbus, Ohio, integrates access control city-wide

Implementing municipal security systems in any U.S. city can be a big challenge. Different agencies tend to utilize different technologies and have a different set of policies and procedures as it relates to how these systems are used. This is especially common with city-wide surveillance systems, as integrators and city leaders often have to get all of the agencies involved to "buy-in" to having a centralized network.

One city breaking out of the constraints of this traditional mold is Columbus, Ohio. The city recently undertook a project that will unify access control for all city buildings into one, centralized IP-based network using the Matrix Systems’ Frontier software platform.

The project - which is being overseen by a group of city officials including Miki Calero, chief security officer; Michael Plumb, security manager for facilities; Dave Bush, deputy director; and, Johnny Scales, facilities administrator – began with the founding of a $500,000 command center and the integration of access control at the city’s municipal court buildings. According to a statement issued by Matrix Systems, plans are underway to integrate the city’s public utilities facilities into the system next.

Integrating access control at city facilities is also cost-efficient as buildings that have 16 or fewer card readers can be connected to the system using a Matrix Systems Gateway rather than having to add a server and access control panel, the company said.

Most city department heads and facility managers have also been offered building connectivity, according to the company, which has resulted in many other city service buildings being added to the network including parks and recreation, health, building development, public services, and fleet maintenance.

"We've had a growing reception to our offer of leveraging equipment, infrastructure and other security resources," Calero said.

In addition to integrating access control, the city has used the new command center to tie more than 200 surveillance cameras together. The city’s surveillance system includes cameras from Bosch and Axis, as well as video storage solutions from Pivot3. The surveillance cameras and video management system are also integrated with the Frontier software.

"Some cities have public safety departments monitoring neighborhood cameras, but few have it all culminate in a centralized command center like Columbus," said Plumb.

Columbus is also in the process of integrating an EasyLobby visitor management system with its access control platform.

"The possibility of connecting any building to our command center via the existing infrastructure and monitoring it for security are capabilities few cities the size of Columbus have at their fingertips," said Calero.