Roger Williams University implements new identity management solution

Johnson Controls chosen to tie together school's disparate systems

Roger Williams University is an independent liberal arts university located on 140 acres of New England coastline in Bristol, Rhode Island. In an effort to become more efficient with time consuming and costly key management and security access assignments, the university worked with Johnson Controls to implement an identity management solution. By integrating existing but disparate systems, physical security access assignments were automated using a role-based policy engine deployed by Johnson Controls. This resulted in reduced operational costs, avoided the need for additional staffing, and improved customer satisfaction.

Like any university, Roger Williams must provide students, faculty and staff with appropriate access to facilities while maintaining the security of those individuals, university property and the facilities themselves. When you consider the many changes in student course-loads and housing assignments, the faculty, staff and contractor access-manual key management, either digital or physical, is a daunting challenge on any campus.

Additionally, the university had recently undergone significant capital projects in an effort to modernize and right-size the institution. The projects included an addition to the Marine and Natural Science Building, construction of the Global Heritage Hall academic building, a 347-bed dormitory, an admissions and alumni center, and associated infrastructure and parking.

Finding a better way

"The new construction drove us to take a fresh look at our business practices - what we do and how we do it. Rather than overwhelming our existing staff or add staff to manually manage security access assignments, we wanted to find a better and more efficient way. The new buildings, which were all designed with electronic access, presented the opportunity," says Joseph Pangborn, vice president and chief information officer at Roger Williams.

"Johnson Controls brought the Quantum Secure SAFE product to the table, which now serves as an interface between the P2000 security management system and our ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that houses all the information on where students need to be and when. Now when students are registered, the P2000 system is automatically updated to allow appropriate access." Similarly, the P2000 system is automatically updated when changes are made to the databases that house access assignments for university faculty and staff.

Previously, disparate systems required manual programming of access assignments. For example, when students enrolled their course-loads and housing assignments were recorded in the university's ERP system. That information was then supplied to security personnel, who manually programmed the P2000 system to allow access based on the students' schedules.

"This manual process required a lot of man-hours spent programming and reprogramming credentials into the security system. With the SAFE system in place we are now able to use that time for other ongoing tasks inherent to the university, such as alarm upgrades, securing additional entrances and replacing or re-keying necessary physical lock hardware," says William Dallaire, master locksmith at Roger Williams.

The system automates approximately 40 percent of security operations at the university, potentially eliminating up to 95 percent of the errors associated with manual processing. Cycle time and right first time for physical access change requests are also improved.

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