The next step was to replace all the old panels with new ones. First, McGrane worked with Advent to load software and prepare the server. However, bringing the new panels online was more of a challenge. The tricky part was to bring each new panel online without causing a disruption. Security installed the new panels next to the old ones over the course of three months so that the old ones could keep functioning until they were ready to flip the switch. Each panel was given an IP address to connect with the network and then brought online in sequence. Security then shut down the old software and brought up the new system.
“We got power to each panel and then held them in a waiting pattern…bringing the panels over bit by bit on the same day,” said McGrane. As each new panel came online, security personnel monitored them through a desktop computer to ensure that they were communicating with the server and with each other. “Because we went to such a fast, network-based panel, I knew right away if there was a problem by watching the diagnostic online,” he says.
As this process continued, the doors being switched over were propped open to prevent alarms. Security was posted to watch over the door and check badges during the switch. Staff members were also standing by to fix panels that didn’t transfer. “It went very smoothly,” says McGrane. “Out of 188 panels, only five didn’t come up immediately.”
The key to the transition, according to McGrane, was extensive planning. “The project management was critical to keeping disruption to a minimum,” he notes.
Reporting, which is vital to the hospital from a compliance standpoint, is much more extensive with the new system, allowing McGrane to “create custom queries and pull just about any data in any way.”
According to McGrane, the system has been performing as intended since installation. Now, the security team is looking to make use of some of the additional features that came with the new platform. Of specific interest is the lockdown feature that allows security to pick and choose which doors should remain closed during a partial lockdown in the case of an emergency. “I like the idea of configuring the system to specific threat levels,” says McGrane. “We are looking at doing that in the future.”
Overall, McGrane says the new system has been a real win for the department because it has taken the future capability and stability questions out of the equation, allowing security to concentrate on other more important issues.
(For more information: Software House; Web: www.swhouse.com. Glavin Security Specialists, phone: 312/850-6700; Web: www.glavinlock.com. Advent Systems, phone: 630/279-7171; Web: www.adventsystems.com)