Isonas Door Access Control Systems Serve Schools

Oct. 1, 2010

For more than 40 years, school facility managers and security personnel responsible for selecting a door access system have essentially had one option: a local control panel hardwired to power and individually wired to a maximum number of door “readers.”

This meant high capital investment for the initial set-up, along with extensive wiring and installation. The cost per door would balloon for the first door (since it mandated installation of the panel) with additional doors at a lower cost – until the panel maxed out and the cost would balloon again for each new panel.

The latest door access technology now does away with the control panel entirely, piggybacks on the existing network wiring already in place, requires no hardwiring to building power and involves installation only of a single, standard network cable to each reader.

With this type of system, a business can scale up from one to 1,000 doors by simply adding new readers as needed at a predictable cost per door and same single cable installation. This takes much of the complexity and about a third of the cost out of the decision to install or expand a door access system.

Today, savvy school facility managers and security personnel are looking to such advanced door access systems for good reason.

The Douglas School District in Box Elder, SD, educates more than 1,400 students from age 3 through high school. The school district embarked on a well planned physical security plan for their various facilities consisting of video surveillance and access control in conjunction with a pre-existing alarm system.

“We knew we wanted an access control system that would utilize the same network backbone we had already invested in for our video system,” states Mike Mueller, buildings and grounds. “It was also important to have a system that we could deploy seamlessly in multiple locations. We foresaw the necessity of allowing the individual facilities to manage their parts of the system, but also needed the capability of a central point of monitoring and control on a district-wide basis.”

Internet Protocol (IP)-based technology is the same technology used for networking computers, printers and other peripherals in most businesses today

By piggybacking on the existing network cabling, facility managers and security personnel can quickly and easily install the IP-based door access readers to a common network switch with standard cables. With this set-up, the door readers are powered by the built in Power over Ethernet (PoE) feature already provided through the network switch and CAT-5 cabling, and does not require hardwiring to the building’s power.

“Most companies have already made a fairly significant investment in their network infrastructure,” says Chuck Crenshaw, CEO of ISONAS Security Systems. “It makes sense to use the existing system instead of installing a separate, proprietary system at additional cost.”

Established in 1999, the Colorado-based ISONAS designs, manufactures and distributes the PowerNet™ panel-free, IP-based security access control system.

In the ISONAS system, the reader is a network device with built in functions to act as reader and control panel. Each reader can store information in its own memory for up to 64,000 sets of credentials, along with a historical access log. The readers come with a keypad, card swipe or both and the reader can be programmed in a variety of ways including assigning specific permissions, groupings, time zones, etc.

The ISONAS system also includes its comprehensive access control management software - Crystal Matrix™ Access Control Management System, which can be used to manage an unlimited number of readers from a single, web-enabled interface.

“The proposal from Golden West Technologies for the ISONAS PowerNet system not only met all our operational and functional requirements, but also came in as the most cost effective solution from all the potential bids we received,” says Mueller.

The installation of the ISONAS access control system was accomplished by Golden West Technologies of nearby Rapid City, SD.

“We have supplied dozens of schools with network infrastructure and security systems,” states Dave Wentworth, security sales engineer for Golden West, “so our confidence in being able to meet the District’s budgetary requirements as well as provide a top of the line access control system specifically tailored to the needs of a school district was a task with which we were very comfortable.”

The project called for the installation of 28 door access points and was finished in just two months, well within the time allotted for the work. The project also included the installation of the ISONAS Crystal Matrix Access Control software management program. The system rollout was managed by John Hoag, manager of building security.

“The Crystal Matrix software system allows me to manage the set-up and permissions for all entry points in the system and to monitor them as well,” says Hoag. “It was easy to train personnel in each of the separate facilities on how to do the access control management tasks for their individual locations, so I now oversee the day-to-day operations of all the security systems while individual requirements are decided on a local basis by each school.”

Connecting to the existing network has another major advantage not yet mentioned: the latest video surveillance camera systems are now IP-based as well and the ability to hook up and integrate the two together to the network, provides a synergy and unification of management.

“Until about two years ago, security cameras and access control systems were completely separate and often proprietary,” explains ISONAS’ Crenshaw. “This meant separate wiring and installation, management software and multiple maintenance contracts.”

“However, today there is a strong desire to have unified management of security components,” adds Crenshaw. “Because we provide an IP-based network device it is exceedingly easy to integrate with video surveillance camera software.”

Since most video surveillance hardware comes with its own management software, the ISONAS software has been designed to interact with, or is already pre-integrated into the packages provided by the leading video camera providers.

“The combination of video and access control running on the network allow us to control and monitor activities in an emergency in a very comprehensive and effective manner, from a secure location,” says Hoag. “We made appropriate investments in physical security systems, and we continue to make strides in perfecting our procedures in the use of those systems to live up to our commitment that our schools are safe, caring places.”

The network devices are also powered by low voltage through the Power over Ethernet, versus the high voltage requirements of the panel for additional energy savings over the life of the product.

For the security of clients, employees and company property, facility managers and security personnel should ditch the traditional panel-and-wiring model and consider an IP-based system for its lower cost per door and simplified installation.

For more information, visit