Case in Point: Unified School Security

Aug. 12, 2015
Web-based security management platform provides the backbone for multiple technologies for Wisconsin grade school

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the bay waters in Green Bay, Wis., Holy Cross Parish desired security, safety and simple data management for its K-8 school and other buildings on the Grace Catholic educational campus.

The 130-student campus consists of a church, rectory with administrative offices and private school all on one large campus in a rural area. Each building has a unique set of different needs — accessibility, accountability, security and the ability to initiate lockdown remotely. In addition, officials needed to protect rare artwork, paintings and other artifacts dating back to the 1800s that reside in the church building.

Holy Cross, with the advice of security dealer Michael Martin, President of Martin Systems Inc., of Green Bay, opted for the Connect ONE hosted cloud service from Connected Technologies. The system  gave the Holy Cross Parish the flexibility to easily manage its access control solution on site and remotely, and yield the operational data and business intelligence it required to retain an open campus and church while keeping students safe and facilities secured.

Addressing Access Control Needs

“The administration was nervous about unauthorized entry to the church when it was open around the clock, but their goal was to be able to let parishioners access the church at any time,” Martin says.

The installation, designed by Martin Systems, took four days with two technicians, who installed a point-to-point wireless network for connectivity throughout the campus, narrow-stile numerical touch keypads at the church and rectory, and proximity (touchless) readers with key fobs at the school —all of which are controlled and managed by Connect ONE and accessible by computer, tablet or smartphone.

“Initially, we toyed with the idea of developing our own cloud-based system,” Martin says. “But we sent a technician to look ‘behind the curtains’ at the Connected Technologies solution and I was excited about the possibilities for my customers, especially the many school districts we serve.

Holy Cross uses the blended approach to their managed access control solution, controlling much of the programming while using Martin Systems on an as-needed basis. Martin Systems provides an ongoing service and maintenance agreement to the Holy Cross campus and is available to assist with programming or other changes if necessary. The security management platform produces an event log that displays usage and allows users to run activity reports quickly and simply.

The administrators accomplish many of the day-to-day tasks of gathering business intelligence from the system and managing the personal identification numbers disseminated to parishioners. “The basic idea was to be able to get a sense of when parishioners were coming after-hours so the church can be accessed and a priest made available,” Martin says. “They can collect info from the dashboard and put together a plan based on past visits to make the priest available when parishioners would most likely require his services.”

Now, parishioners who come to visit the church after hours call the office and get a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access the facility. From there, the PIN is tracked via the management system for additional business intelligence for the church. The keypad is connected wirelessly to the rectory/parish office and managed fully over the network, making for a cost-effective solution.

Additional Security Systems

Martin Systems also developed and deployed a unique central station reporting peripheral for the Holy Cross campus called the ONit Alert System, which informs key personnel with the vital information needed during an alarm. It integrates two-way communication between key personnel and the central station, alerting via text (SMS) to give users the ability to respond appropriately.

Martin Systems also donated and installed a four-camera analog surveillance system at the K-8 school. “The cameras have been fantastic in monitoring different areas,” says Matt VanEffen, Principal of Holy Cross Catholic School. “Also, having the ability to see when employees are coming in for work really adds value. But the best feature by far is the ability to lock down all the doors from my computer or phone in the event of a lockdown drill. The key fobs which control the proximity readers have also cut down greatly on the number of people who have access to the ‘master’ key for the school. It’s just so much easier to track who has the key fobs,” he says.

Other systems unified under the security management platform include wireless keypads from Essex Electronics, proximity readers with keyfobs from HID Global and wireless equipment products from Digital Monitoring Products (DMP).

“It became clear to us several years ago that users need a simple security management program they can access from multiple devices, including smartphones,” Martin concludes. “It is critical to customers.”

Sam Rizzo is director of Business Development for Connected Technologies. Request more info about the company by visiting