Case Studies

Cloud based remote monitoring for Blackpool homes

by Mark Rowe

Blackpool Council set up Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) in 2007 to manage its housing stock of almost 5,000 homes. Access control and door entry products from PAC and GDX by STANLEY Products & Solutions have been installed across its estate, using cloud based remote monitoring. BCH has used products from STANLEY Products & Solutions for years, such as GDX5 door entry, with an Indigo 1000 access control system, which were integrated.

Anthony Walker, Mechanical and Electrical Officer at BCH says: ‘We have a policy of continual improvement in the service we provide. Although the previous configuration performed well, I was convinced that the business and operational benefits of remote monitoring and the cloud could be utilised by upgrading the Indigo 1000 with a PAC 512 access control system.’

An upgraded system was specified for a BCH site comprising 80 blocks. It uses the GDX5 front panels, which have been integrated with the PAC 512 controllers to create a remote monitoring platform that can be accessed via a PC, tablet or smartphone. This is achieved through the use of a general packet radio service (GPRS) platform, which is the security product firm says a faster and cost effective means of connecting remote sites via a mobile network.

The PAC 512 devices control all aspects of two secure doors, with up to two card readers installed as entry and exit readers on each door. Each door also has a programmable auxiliary input that may be used for alarm integration, and an auxiliary output that enables a buzzer or strobe to activate when security is breached or a door is left open. In the event of communication loss, the PAC 512 allows all local functionality to continue until the server connection is restored, while the system features an auto-dial or email alert program that, in the event of an equipment failure at one of the locations, sends a notification so that the issue can be rectified.

Andrew Burton, area sales manager at STANLEY Products & Solutions, says: ‘The cloud revolution has had a dramatic effect on the physical security equipment industry. Its development into access control technology means that not only can a system be managed remotely, specific personnel can even be granted or denied access to certain areas at different times, making it not only good for security but also for health and safety. Furthermore, in the event of a theft or antisocial behaviour, it is possible to pinpoint exactly who was where and initiate appropriate action, using the live events and reporting.’

BCH can access information via the PAC Residential Cloud. Remote diagnostics, technical issues and servicing can be carried out, and it’s also possible to remotely view status, set and unset a system and access an event log. For instance, if someone loses a key fob, BCH can access their information, carry out an authorisation check, let them into their abode and, if necessary, deactivate the missing device. It also allows the incumbent installer to remotely access the system’s software to physically input, for example, extended door release times for specific residents.

With a number of vulnerable residents, BCH worked with STANLEY to generate reports which show when a key fob hasn’t been used for a specific time. Anthony Walker says: ‘If the report indicates non use of a fob, we can take measures to deactivate it, and/or can send someone over to check on the person concerned and, if necessary, notify next of kin or the relevant authorities. In extreme circumstances, we can also remotely open doors, to allow access to the emergency services. Having the ability to immediately and remotely program fobs has been particularly beneficial to our customers who previously would have had to travel to our offices for this to be completed – saving both time and money and making best use of our resources.’

With a large number of residents, each with their own key fobs, Anthony Walker was keen to avoid any disruption during the upgrade and wanted the process to be as seamless as possible. Configuring the physical hardware was helped by the installation team’s existing knowledge of STANLEY products. On-site training was also provided by STANLEY and, in case of a problem, a support and advice package was available.

Installing a new access control system can often result in replacing existing key fobs with new ones – not only is this costly and inconvenient but there is also an administrative burden associated with transferring all the data to the new devices. However, all these issues were circumvented, as the use of the PAC Residential Cloud meant that the migration of tenant fob data into new system was straightforward – so much so that tenants didn’t even realise any change had taken place. Having access control data in the cloud means that it is always backed up.


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