THE MAGAZINE

Security Not Spartan at MSU

By Teresa Anderson

SYNOPSIS
The access control and security division of the university police department at Michigan State University was ready to make very limited upgrades to its fire and access control system in the summer of 2001. Then the events of 9-11 changed everything. Instead of going ahead on the small project, the university decided to assess security on the entire campus to see what gaps needed to be addressed.

One problem that emerged was that each university department made its own arrangements with local alarm companies to have access control alarms monitored. They also separately bid out access control contracts. The project addressed these concerns and included equipment upgrades.

The installation process proved to be a challenge. Most of the buildings on campus are old and are from numerous eras, thus widely varying in their construction. This diversity presented difficulties for installers. For example, some of the oldest buildings have three-foot-thick walls.

The security team decided that the installation should be engineered by the university’s in-house engineering staff, rather than a contractor. This approach turned out to be more time-consuming but resulted in few mistakes and a high-quality installation.

The final system comprised more than 400 card readers and more than 4,000 alarm points, including motion detectors, panic buttons, and glass-break sensors. All told, these alarm points are used to monitor 60 buildings on campus. The remaining buildings will be moved over to the new system as current access control contracts expire.

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