Cambridge Innovation Center deploys new access control system

Office services facility upgrades security with a solution from SALTO Systems


When you’re located just steps away from the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the most prestigious technical schools in the world, building security and access control is a subject that has to be taken seriously.

Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) is a full-fledged managed office services facility at One Broadway providing space for growing technology and life sciences companies, professional service firms and venture capitalists looking to locate in the MIT/Harvard technology cluster of the Greater Boston area.

With offices on 8 floors of the building, it services approximately 175 companies providing a range of high quality business and technology services tailored mostly towards small start up companies employing 1-5 people. These include flexible office configurations on a monthly rental basis, a secure facility featuring computerized access control and video surveillance for protection of intellectual property, advanced telephone and voicemail services, high tech video conferencing systems, high speed (100Mb) LAN connections and more.

The Situation

For the past 10 months CIC has been exhaustively reviewing its door access control options. Since their inception they have used a traditional card-access system, manufactured and installed by a leading US corporation which has served CIC well over the years.

But as the business has grown, they have taken new space on additional floors that was only equipped with traditional mechanical key locks on the office doors. Because these doors were not hard wired, it would have been prohibitively expensive to upgrade the doors with the same electronic access control product fitted onto other doors within the building.

While they strive not to let these mechanical or what they call "hard keys" impact on their clients' ability to move offices, they haven't been happy with the limitations this imposes. For example, if a client needs access to two offices, they need two separate keys, and if an employee leaves and takes a key with them, they have to make the call on whether or not to change the locks.

So they started a search for a better solution. With the upcoming expansion onto the 3rd and 4th floors at One Broadway, they knew they would be adding about 200 new doors to CIC, and this prompted them to accelerate their search for an alternative electronic system to control access.

The Challenge

Initially they considered going down the integration route, finding a new product to work with their existing system, but having looked at it closely decided the results didn’t measure up and this option was rejected.

In January this year they discovered SALTO Systems and found their approach to access control to be somewhat different to other providers, with door control based on a data on card system, reversing the more usual role of credential and controller. The big advantage of this is that you do not have to hard wire every door, or install cumbersome and expensive controllers in a closet somewhere. This makes this system much faster to install and less expensive. This wireless system would allow them to put electronic access control on every door.

Sean Keenan, Senior Systems Administrator at CIC says "When we first started looking at the system, as a tech guy, I immediately frowned, however, on the idea that I would be carrying my credentials around on my key ring - what if it gets lost, stolen, decrypted or copied?

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