ASSA C4 System Secures Columbus Airport

Today’s security professional faces enormous challenges in securing our transportation infrastructure. From large international airports with millions of passengers passing through each year to small, regional train stations and bus depots, the need for effective intelligence on daily patterns of movement within a facility is paramount to staying one step ahead of those who might do us harm.

Airports in particular have been subject to intense scrutiny by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and indeed the general public in the wake of past incidents both in the US and abroad. The typical regional or international airport can cover hundreds of acres with vast buildings containing thousands of openings to both secured and non-secured areas. The number of employees or other individuals requiring varying levels of access can easily run into the thousands.

The security industry recognizes the unique challenges facing the transportation sector and has responded with a plethora of access control products. From basic stand alone keypad locks to full blown hard wired smart card access systems that can do everything but make coffee for you in the morning, the choices can seem daunting, confusing, and expensive. The multitude of features available can rapidly drive the cost per opening in many cases to unnecessary levels. With ever tightening budgets, the security professional must make a sober assessment of his or her facility’s unique needs and constraints in order to determine the best and most cost effective solution.

In late 2008, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) which includes the Port Columbus International Airport deployed the ASSA Concept 4 (C4) Access Control system at its Central Ohio locations.

The C4 system is comprised of high security locking cylinders incorporating the patented dual independent locking mechanism available in all ASSA Twin series products. Based on the Twin Maximum platform, the C4 system is listed under U.L. 437 for drill and pick resistance and is available in more than 2800 distinct proprietary keyways. Utilizing the CLIQTM technology, C4 systems feature a programmable micro chip in both the locking cylinder and the key. The key carries a small lithium battery which is the sole power source for both itself and the cylinder, eliminating the need for a power source at the opening.

ASSA can offer CLIQTM functions with any product in its high security retrofit cylinder offering including padlocks, cabinet locks, and large format removable core. The C4 key is designed to mate with a Twin Maximum mechanical cylinder on the same proprietary keyway thus enabling the electronic key to operate a mechanical cylinder as well. The CLIQTM firmware provides certain traditional electronic access control (EAC) system features such as audit trail, time scheduling, and credential expiration at a fraction of the cost of a hard wired online system.

The C4 system provides a transaction record with the time and date of every attempt at entry to an opening. The transactions are stored in both the lock and the key recording the unique key ID number, the name of the key holder attempting entry, and the result of the attempt, i.e. access or access denied.

Christopher Hinds, manager of airport operations and aviation security at CRAA, said “Currently we have the C4 system on specific administrative offices where sensitive materials are stored. The accountability of who has accessed the office is great.”

The audit trail record is retrieved from the lock using a special programming key. The transactions are downloaded to a software program via a simple plug-and- play programming device and are displayed on the computer in a spreadsheet format. A user’s key is interrogated by inserting it into the programming device and downloading the records directly into the computer database. Audit trails can be sorted, saved, printed, and even e-mailed.

Determining patterns of movement in any facility requiring a high level of security is useful, but in a busy airport setting, it is critical. Any unauthorized entry to a secure area results in a compromise of access control protocol and public safety may be jeopardized. Any opening to a secure or sensitive space will usually have some sort of locking mechanism to restrict access to only those who are authorized to have access. But monitoring who is attempting to gain entry can be important intelligence. “There is always value in determining when someone attempts to access an area that they are not authorized to access,” Hinds says.

The C4 system provides a detailed record of who tried to access an opening and at what time, even on openings that would be difficult or impossible to supply power to such as gates or out buildings. Reports of who is attempting unauthorized entry can be valuable evidence to any investigative body seeking to contain risk before it becomes a threat.

Utilizing the C4 and Twin Maximum combination, a facility can be equipped with high security mechanical cylinders on openings that are not EAC critical and deploy electronic cylinders on only those that require that capability. This option gives the facility the flexibility to apply the EAC feature on only the openings that require it and allows the key holder the convenience of only having to carry one key that can open both locks. As an added option, the C4 key can also carry a proximity tag that can be incorporated into an HID compatible wired access control system just like a standard HID prox card enabling the key holder to access up to 3 different types of secured opening with only one credential.

C4 software is easy to learn and can run on either a desktop computer or laptop. The database can be deployed to either a local machine or a network server, allowing multiple users to work with the system. The software enables the administrator to program cylinders and keys easily, download and view audit trails, work with time schedules, and track key holders. On site training by factory certified personnel is available for all new C4 systems.

C4 cylinders are available in most lock manufacturers’ standard cylinder shapes and can be installed in virtually any commercial hardware application with no special preparation. ASSA’s core business has always been supplying a high security option for existing Grade 1 hardware and as such it has sought to provide an EAC solution that can be conveniently installed with minimal disruption at the door and at an affordable price. A typical hard wired access control system could cost as much as $3,000 per opening or more including labor and materials. Furthermore the ancillary hardware required can detract from the aesthetics of the opening. An ASSA C4 cylinder can be installed for as little as $600 retail per opening.

Chris Hinds observed, “Utilizing the C4 system allows us to maintain access accountability without the cost of adding the full computerized access control system. Given the doors we have chosen to add the C4 system to, it is definitely a more cost effective way to secure a door and maintain accountability.”