With these issues in mind, McGrane started researching new systems. The simplest solution was to upgrade the existing platform to a newer C-CURE platform, the 9000, which did have new capabilities to address the hospital’s growing needs, but McGrane looked at other available technologies to be sure that there were not better options before making the decision to stick with the same vendor.
With regard to the concern about the reliance on the server, McGrane found that the new system contained smart panels. If the server fails, these panels still work because they can stand alone or communicate with other panels. The new panels also have nearly limitless capacity. The new system can handle over a million active cards. Other new features include the ability for certain users—such as physicians who might be on call—to have more than one badge in case of emergency, without creating a second record. The system also allows some users to have unlimited clearances associated with their badge.
The new system also solved another problem for McGrane. With the old system, communication with the panels was slow, meaning that the software could only communicate with three to four panels at a time. At that rate, it could take nearly an hour to complete system changes on just one of the panels. “If you had to communicate with all of those panels separately, even the simplest change took eight hours of downtime,” he says. The new panels are networked devices, meaning that changes that are input from the main server can be universally applied to all panels and take a matter of seconds. A large software upgrade across the entire system can take an hour, he notes.
In 2011, McGrane requested the system in his 2012 budget. The request was approved for the system and then McGrane put out a bid for an integrator. Advent Systems, of Elmhurst, Illinois, won the bid and began working with McGrane to implement the transition to the new system.
The changeover took place in 2012, with the system going live in August of that year.
The most challenging part of the project would be to ensure that there was no break in the access control functions as the
switch was made. Ensuring that all the access control information was moved to the new system proved to be the simplest step of the upgrade. The existing database of card holders was moved over to the new system using a conversion tool.