Intrusion & Access Control

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Message-to-the-Masses.aspxMessage to the MassesGP0|#cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8;L0|#0cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8|Physical Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a43444652017-03-01T05:00:00Zhttps://adminsm.asisonline.org/pages/holly-gilbert-stowell.aspx, Holly Gilbert Stowell<p>Sanofi is a global pharmaceuticals business that manufactures and distributes vaccines and medications worldwide. The organization provides diabetes solutions, consumer healthcare services, animal health products, and other therapies. Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccines each year, which immunize more than 500 million people across the globe.<img src="/ASIS%20SM%20Callout%20Images/0317%20Case%20Study%20Stats%20Sidebar.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:296px;" /></p><p>With more than 100 locations in the United States, Sanofi has approximately 25,000 employees domestically, and a global workforce of more than 125,000. Keeping track of those workers and ensuring their safety is of utmost concern to the company, says Joe Blakeslee, security systems manager at Sanofi. </p><p>For its North American sector, the organization incorporates several solutions as part of its overall security profile, including access control, CCTV, and emergency notification. For many years, Sanofi had several mass notification platforms that were disparate, without a centralized way to manage alerts for all employees. </p><p>In late 2014, Sanofi put out a request for proposal to find a product that could unify its many mass notification platforms into one seamless solution. Near the beginning of 2015, it chose Everbridge Mass Notification, a Web-based application that allows for distribution of messages to a large audience. </p><p>“The biggest part about Everbridge that stood out was the user interface,” Blakeslee says. “It provided everything we needed, and we were also impressed with how easy the system was to use.” The Sanofi North America security team started rolling out the application at the beginning of 2015 for internal security purposes, and in June of that year began registering all North American employees into the system.</p><p>He adds that the variety of options for reaching employees was paramount, given Sanofi’s mobile workforce. “Everbridge has multiple modalities in which you can actually send the message,” he says. “We use all the modalities whether it’s cell phone, SMS, home phone, or email. We give all of our employees the ability to elect whatever modality they would like.” Employees rank their preferred communication modalities in order when registering for the system; that way, if one method fails to contact the worker, notifications will automatically be sent via other methods until the party is reached.  </p><p>Everbridge is used on a daily basis at Sanofi, he adds. “Every day we use the application to alert various groups within the company, whether it’s related to fire alarms, evacuations, hazmat response, or other incidents.” </p><p>Sanofi has a central security services center (SSC). There, analysts monitor the business locations across the country for alarms and alerts using various security management software. Only designated individuals within the SSC can access the Everbridge platform and administrate messages through the platform. When there is an incident, such as a fire alarm, analysts send out alerts to the affected employees to give them situational awareness through the Everbridge Web portal. In the fire example, employees would be alerted to evacuate the building and await further instruction. The messages being sent can be selected from a set of prewritten options, or modified based on the particular event; normally in an emergency, the messages are written at the time by the security team. </p><p>“Say you have a building with 3,000 people in it. We want to reach them wherever they may be,” he says, “and reach as many people as we can in as little amount of time as possible.” </p><p>The Everbridge application is used to notify workers that it is safe to return to their desks. It also displays in real-time the status of employees involved in the incident. Employee status can either be confirmed or unconfirmed. If someone is unconfirmed, the Everbridge system allows the SCC to resend the message or try a new contact path based on the order of the employee’s preferred contact methods to try to get a response. For example, if sending an SMS to a cell phone doesn’t work, the system will make a telephone call, then send an email, and so forth. The confirmation lets the security team determine which employees are safe. </p><p>The system helps get employees back to work more quickly, because people aren’t wondering whether it’s safe to return to their desks. </p><p>Everbridge can also be used for incident management. For example, in the case of a trespasser, security would get an alarm or a phone call. “From there, SSC would send out a notification from Everbridge to the local emergency response personnel, asking for them to respond to the occurrence,” Blakeslee says. “After the message is sent to all the recipients’ devices, the SSC would, in real time, monitor the responses from the recipients’ confirmations and determine how many people are responding to the event.” </p><p>Everbridge isn’t just used for reactionary purposes. It provides proactive security measures as well. Sanofi has security officers at each of its locations, and the organization conducts daily check-ins with those personnel who are patrolling alone to ensure they are safe and accounted for. Sanofi expects a message back, and “if they don’t respond, we escalate that to the SSC and they handle it from there,” Blakeslee says.  </p><p>He adds that the mobile nature of the modern workforce means that employees won’t always be working from their primary location. “Our workforce is dynamic. One day I may be working in Pennsylvania, the next day I might be in New Jersey,” he says, noting that several employees and contractors travel frequently. To help keep track of its mobile workforce, Sanofi rolled out a newer feature from Everbridge called Safety Connection in the second quarter of 2016. The solution aggregates geo-location data from multiple systems so Sanofi knows where its employees are at any given time.  </p><p>Blakeslee says that given the sensitivity of materials they manufacture and distribute, as well as the importance of their services to customers, the culture at Sanofi is safety oriented. “Anything dealing with safety we’re really reactive to, so Everbridge provides us another means of communicating to keep our employees safe.”</p><p>--<br></p><p>For more information: Jeff Benanto, jeff.benanto@everbridge.com, www.everbridge.com, 781.373.9879 ​</p>

Intrusion & Access Control

 

 

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https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Access-Under-Control.aspxAccess Under Control<p>​<span style="line-height:1.5em;">Companies spend significant resources on access control equipment. Estimates of the size of the global market range from about $6 billion to around $22 billion, and a recent ASIS survey indicates that 57 percent of U.S. businesses will be increasing access control spending through 2016. </span></p><p>Upfront costs are just the start. Security professionals take time to determine which doors need to be locked and when.  They decide where to install readers and decide how to pro­cess visitors. Despite the effort spent on the access control equipment layout and maintenance, over time the access control database can become mismanaged. Requests for tweaks to reader groupings and access levels are continuous. One group may want time restrictions for the janitorial crew; another group may need access to one door but want to restrict others. If these accommodations are made without regard for the overall system, over time a complicated tangle of access control levels is created. The next thing you know, security no longer controls access; access control takes charge of the organization’s security, resulting in a chaotic mess.</p><p>BB&T, a large financial services institution headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has protocols in place that ensure appropriate and accurate administration of access control systems at its corporate locations. The Fortune 500 company has more than 1,800 financial centers in 12 states.  In addition, it has approximately 120 corporate buildings–data centers, operations centers, call centers, corporate and regional headquarters–that have access control systems. ​</p><h4>Challenges</h4><p>Regulatory developments over the last decade make it necessary to closely maintain access control data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 require health­care and financial organizations, respectively, to keep strict watch over sensitive and personal information. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 forced a strengthening of internal controls within corporations. More recently, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard requires that companies keep tight control over credit and debit card data. </p><p>These regulations, as well as others that affect specific industries, have brought more scrutiny to the administration of access control data. Most large organizations, especially those in regulated industries, have experienced an increase in audit activity as it relates to physical access controls. This means that regular reviews of access reports are required in many cases. For this reason, it is critical that the data in a company’s access control database be clean and accurate.  </p><p>Numerous challenges can arise from failing to properly maintain an access control system. Maintenance lapses can result in thefts when, for example, terminated employees get into a facility. What good is an access control system if, due to negligence in maintaining the system, people can enter places they shouldn’t? If your access control database has been around for years and has turned into a Byzantine web of access permissions, what steps can be taken to get control over the data? </p><p>Access control database administrators must have an ongoing process of maintaining the accuracy of the data. A standards-based approach must be taken to manage any effective access control program. Standards include defining the types of users in the system–employees, vendors, visitors, temporary card users– and establishing credentials for which each of these user categories will be managed and reviewed. Once the user categories are defined, space definitions and ongoing maintenance procedures must be established. ​</p><h4>Database management</h4><p>BB&T categorizes its cardholders into three groups based on the users’ network login ID. There are employees and contractors with a company network login ID; vendors, tenants, and others without a company network login ID; and temporary users. BB&T uses the network login ID for employers and contractors because the network ID is also used in the IT security database. This allows security to match the IT access records to the physical access records. Human resource data was considered for this match, but the bank determined that many vendors, temporary employees, and contractors who have a BB&T network login ID are not included in its human resource system. Matching the network login ID covers a majority of the organization’s users. If the records do not match, the user’s access is terminated.   </p><p>For cards not involved in the matching process, BB&T identifies a company employee who can serve as a sponsor for each vendor and tenant. The company conducts quarterly reviews of those cards, during which the company sponsor ascertains whether the vendor or tenant employee still works for the third-party company and still needs the BB&T card.</p><p>All temporary cards in the system are assigned to the individuals who have the cards in their possession. The temporary cards may be used by visitors, trainees, vendors, and employees who forgot their badge at home. Information on the cardholder is housed within the access control database. Quarterly reports for all temporary cards are sent to one person who is responsible for ensuring that their temporary cards are accounted for.  ​</p><h4>Space</h4><p>BB&T has established criteria and definitions of the physical space in its environment and categorizes space into three categories: critical, restricted, and general. Criteria are established for each category of space. The critical category is reserved for high-risk, critical infrastructure areas, such as server rooms or HVAC sites. Restricted space is office space for departments that the company deems restricted. All critical and restricted space is assigned a space owner. The space owner is then responsible for approving or denying people’s access to that area. General access areas are common doors and hallways.</p><p>For each category of space, standards are established on how access is governed. For example, the data center standards might state that janitors or nonessential personnel are not granted access without an escort. Standards also dictate who can approve access to that space and how often access reports should be reviewed. For example, critical and restricted space reports are reviewed monthly or quarterly.</p><p>Access devices are grouped together based on the categories of space and the users that access the space. This streamlines the access request process and makes it easier for the requestors to understand what access they are selecting. Grouping as many readers together as possible minimizes the number of possible groupings meaning that there are fewer choices for those requesting access. It also makes it easier to ensure that access reports are accurate, and it simplifies the process of approving access and access report reviews. If all readers for critical space to a building are grouped together, only one approval would be required for critical space and only one report would need to be reviewed.  </p><p>However, in some cases, minimizing groupings may not possible. For example, one group of users may be allowed into the IT area but only a subset of that group has access to the server room that resides within the lab. In this case, groups would be categorized by the users rather than the readers.</p><p>It’s also important to make sure that access levels and device groupings don’t overlap. This can complicate the request process and the report reviews and could cause access reports to reflect an incomplete list of users who have access to a space. For example, in a building with three readers, grouping one may include the front and back doors, and grouping two may include the communications room. If, in addition to these two groupings, there is an overarching grouping three that includes all three readers, this could create a problem since each of the three individual readers belong to two different groupings. In this scenario, if a request is made to determine who has access to the communications room, rather than producing a report of the communications room reader group, an additional report of the group of all three readers would need to be provided. In many organizations, this second step is missed, causing an inaccurate representation of those with access to a specific area. This can be a major issue if discovered during an audit.</p><p>Another way to remedy this issue would be to run reader reports on individual doors, in this example, a reader report on the communications room only. Most access control systems allow for this type of report. However, in companies with a large number of individual card readers, this would require many more reports. The same users often need access to multiple doors, so combining them into groupings that don’t overlap makes more sense than running individual reader reports. As a rule, BB&T does not allow a reader that has been deemed critical or restricted to belong to more than one reader grouping. This ensures that access reports are accurate and complete.  It does, however, require that a user who needs access to a full building, such as a janitor or security officer, request access to each area of the building rather than requesting overarching access to the entire building. This is beneficial, not only for reporting reasons, but also because it requires that space owners approve all users who have access to their space and holds the space owners responsible for knowing who is entering their space. Controls in the report review process can be set up to ensure that a space owner does not remove access for a janitor or security officer. Some systems allow cards to be flagged and would require a higher level of scrutiny before access is removed. Nonetheless, this is a cleaner way to set up access levels and ensures that space owners will review a report of all users that have access to their space, which is what most auditors are looking for.   ​</p><h4>Clean-Up</h4><p>If an access control system has become muddled over time, a database clean-up is recommended. A good place to start is to deactivate all cards that have not been used in a specific timeframe, such as the previous six months. Thus there will be fewer cards to review. Then, security can find a common piece of data with another database in the company that provides a match of current employees. Human resource or information security data is best to determine whether active cardholders in the system still work for the company. Of the remaining cards for nonemployees, visitors, tenants, and contractors, security should research whether the card users can be associated with a manager or employee within the company. Security can work with these internal partners to implement an ongoing review of access cards. ​</p><h4>Maintenance</h4><p>Performing a regular match of human resource or information security data ensures that cards are deactivated for users whose information does not match that on the card. If a user is not captured in the match, that person should be assigned to a sponsor for quarterly review to determine whether any credentials need to be terminated. Access reports should be reviewed for all nongeneral space to ensure that users still need access to the designated areas. Such reviews should take place at regular intervals–not more than quarterly. An important piece of the access request process is to ensure that all necessary information is captured to support the new standards and to support the report review. For example, if the request is for a visitor, security should capture the name of the person who will have that card in their possession during the request.   ​</p><h4>Automation</h4><p>BB&T is working to upgrade the auto­mation of its access control request and audit reporting system by the end of 2015. It is considering software that automates the entire access control database management process from the onboarding human resource system to the access control system. This would include a software interface that would be fully integrated with the information security credentialing system. The ideal software would fully integrate with the access control system where approved access is automatically provisioned with no human intervention.</p><p>Cost is a major factor in implementing such automation. Some companies choose to automate pieces of the process. Some use a simple Web portal form that sends e-mails to approvers and ultimately e-mails the request to the team that provisions access or provides a dashboard for the access control team to view requests. Many companies have integrated with human resource or information security data to update their access control system, which allows for the automatic deactivation of cards for terminated employees, vendors, or contractors. Others have found a way to automate the report reviews. Few access control manufacturers provide these additional software tools in combination with their access control software. Some will work with or direct their customers to third-party solutions, while others are beginning to see the need for automation and are incorporating pieces into their standard software package, such as more robust reporting capabilities.  </p><p>These efforts may seem daunting, but once the standards are set and the database is cleaned up, ongoing maintenance is initiated, and some level of automation is implemented, the system will be under control. It is imperative that security professionals see beyond the equipment and installation and not rely solely on these for protection. A sound maintenance program ensures that, should access control processes be called into question, security can be confident that the company’s program is under control.  </p><p>--</p><p><em><strong>Briggette Jimenez, CPP,</strong> is physical security manager at BB&T where she manages the company’s security command center, security operations, and workplace violence prevention programs.</em></p>GP0|#cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8;L0|#0cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8|Physical Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Yale-Opens-Doors.aspxYale Opens Doors<p>​When an anonymous person phoned in an active shooter threat to Yale University in November 2013, the central campus in New Haven, Connecticut, went into lockdown mode, and everyone was ordered to shelter in place. </p><p>The FBI and several other law enforcement agencies responded to the situation. No gunman was ever located, but Ronnell Higgins, the university’s chief of police and director of public safety, says the incident provided an opportunity for the campus to evaluate its overall safety and security posture. </p><p>“We looked at what happened versus what we want to happen in the future and, by injecting different technology and processes in, how we will improve the narrative if something similar occurs again,” Higgins says. </p><p>Active shooters are a rare occurrence at any university, including Yale, but there are a number of daily challenges the educational institution faces because it’s home to 11,000 students and a 3,200-member faculty.</p><p>“The Yale University campus is truly woven into the tapestry of the city of New Haven,” he notes, adding that there is a balance between creating a welcoming, open environment and providing security. “We don’t want to turn the place into a fortress, but we have to be ever so cognizant of the environment and our obligation to provide safety.” </p><p>While the public safety department had significantly reduced one of its biggest problems—larceny—over the last five years, Higgins says that campus law enforcement wanted to do more to not only reduce crime, but improve overall efficiencies when it came to access control. </p><p>After the active shooter threat, the vendor for Yale’s access control system began phasing out its technology. So, working with its dedicated in-house IT team, the public safety department decided on three major goals to address in updating the access control system. </p><p>They were: have a single point from which to manage access control; increase security around the movement of students, employees, and visitors; and increase overall efficiencies, including mobilizing credentials and streamlining lockdown procedures.</p><p>To determine which access control technology was most appropriate for Yale, the university hired an outside consultant to evaluate proposals, says Dave Boyd, director of information technology for the public safety department. </p><p>The university interviewed the top vendors and, in the end, chose AMAG’s Symmetry SR Solution. Implementation began in July 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017; currently, more than two-thirds of the university’s buildings have been upgraded.  </p><p>The AMAG solution appealed to Yale for several reasons, including the fact that installers would not have to rip out and replace existing hardware. Instead, Symmetry uses the university’s existing wiring infrastructure, allowing it to keep the door card readers installed around its 450 buildings. </p><p>“That was one of the big selling points, because we have some buildings here that are over 200 years old with three-foot stone walls,” Boyd says. “So not having to do a rip and replace saved us millions of dollars.”</p><p>AMAG Symmetry also allows the university to manage access control for all buildings from a single interface. Eventually, Boyd says, Yale can tie in video and alarms to the system, as well as assign threat levels that will lock down certain parts of campus in the event of an incident. </p><p>AMAG Technology’s professional services team wrote an interface to Yale’s internal database to pull data into Symmetry from the university’s access control database. While Yale had to replace a computer board component within all of its existing door readers, students and faculty kept the same cards–microchips inside them were updated electronically. The credentials the faculty and students use to open the door are the same cards they use for identification, dining, and vending. </p><p>“We didn’t have to change the cards—the end users don’t even know this project is happening, just the building managers,” Boyd says.</p><p>Boyd adds that throughout the installation process, card holders would occasionally find that they did not have proper access levels after the switchover. To remedy this, the IT team went building by building to make sure the right people had access to the right places by comparing its old access control database spreadsheets to the new system. </p><p>AMAG also sent a dedicated engineer to remain on site during the first two years of the installation process. “So even issues that looked like they could have been bigger were resolved very quickly because he was on site,” Boyd adds.</p><p>Having its own public safety IT team allows Yale to tailor its technological solutions to the security needs of the campus, Higgins says. </p><p>“When Dave [Boyd] and his team are a part of our meetings, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with IT at the time, they’re thinking about how they can support us through technology, through the software, through systems like AMAG,” Higgins explains. </p><p>Boyd echoes the partnership’s effectiveness. “Most of the time we’ll sit back and just listen and try to find their pain points. 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https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Sounding-the-Alarm-at-Lone-Star.aspxSounding the Alarm at Lone Star<p>In our interconnected world, the vast majority of people within a college campus community think little of an emergency and how the institution will communicate with them—until it happens. Then, they want timely information on what is occurring, what to do, and where they can learn more.  </p><p>There is an assumption that if anything happens, everyone will receive a text message instantly, the faculty and staff will know what to do, and there will be an announcement over a public address system. Expectations are set. </p><p>Recent events, like the shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College in October 2015, have students, faculty, parents, and guests inquiring about the notification equipment and procedures in place on their campus. They want assurances that the emergency systems will work when needed. </p><p>Many institutions have opt-in text messaging solutions and public address systems used for a broad range of services, including special events. In an emergency, speakers, sirens, and horns are often the first warnings received that danger is present or imminent.  </p><p>To meet the expectation of the campus community, schools must understand what emergency communications are necessary, what the law requires, and what the school can afford.  </p><p>This was the challenge facing Lone Star College (LSC) in 2010. The largest higher education institution in the Houston area, with six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, and LSC-Online, LSC provides high-quality academic transfer, workforce education, and career training programs to more than 83,000 credit students each semester, and a total enrollment of 95,000 students. It would need a robust emergency communication system to support its diverse campus community. ​</p><h4>Crafting a Solution </h4><p>When LSC decided to create its notification system, LoneStarAlert, in 2010, it used a team approach, crafting a selection committee and choosing a sponsor who could move the project forward. An LSC vice chancellor responsible for safety and security was chosen as the sponsor—an indicator of the project’s importance within LSC. </p><p>LSC then began selecting its committee members, including a cross section of the organization: administrative, college relations, compliance, emergency management, facilities, IT, law enforcement, procurement, student services, and tenants. </p><p>The committee also included individuals who preferred the status quo system at LSC, which had six colleges and six alert systems with their own name, workflow, vendor, and contracts. Having individuals on the committee who represented each of these systems made them realize that one solution with one name was a better overall system for LSC. Because of this, these individuals felt they had a voice and were being heard, making them great ambassadors for the new system. </p><p>Once the committee was assembled, LSC began assessing its environment. It knew it had different systems and various levels of sophistication because the campus had buildings that ranged from 40 to less than five years old. The buildings were also geographically dispersed among the city of Houston and Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas, each of which has its own building and fire codes.  </p><p>To tackle this service area—approximately the size of Rhode Island—LSC first targeted the LSC-Greenspoint Center, a mid-rise atrium building with the most stringent fire ordinances of all the buildings on LSC campuses.  </p><p>LSC also targeted buildings within two colleges: LSC-North Harris and LSC-Kingwood. LSC-North Harris was chosen because it is close to a major airport and runway. LSC-Kingwood was chosen because it falls under three jur­isdictions—half the campus sits in Montgomery County, the remaining half is in Harris County, and the entire campus is annexed by the City of Houston.  </p><p>Then, over a five-year period, LSC created a mass notification system (MNS) with multiple levels of redundancy. ​</p><h4>the lone star system </h4><p>LSC implemented LoneStarAlert in 2011, consolidating its various emergency campus text messaging services under one solution. LoneStarAlert is a Web-based warning system that can send voice and text alerts to registered individuals when an emergency occurs. </p><p>The system works by issuing an alert over speakers, via a prerecorded or live message, and through e-mail messages in English and Spanish. For example, for a lockdown the prerecorded message says: “Attention. Lockdown now. There is an emergency on campus. Go into the nearest room or closet and lock the door.” Messages also instruct the campus community to wait for further instructions while they remain in a safe place. </p><p>LoneStarAlert also uses text messages of 90 characters or less—in English and Spanish. For an active shooter situation, messages say “Lockdown now. Emergency on campus. Go to nearest safe place, stay calm, and wait for further instructions.”  </p><p>More than 100,000 users are registered for the alert system, and it is only used for emergency messaging and testing of the system. Users are added through an automated system at the beginning of the semester, and users also have the option to self-register.  </p><p>This information is collected in compliance with the State of Texas Education Code Section 51.218 Emergency Alert System. The code requires institutions of higher education to gather a student’s personal e-mail, cell phone, or telephone number to deliver emergency communiques; using only LSC’s e-mail and voice mail system does not satisfy the requirement. </p><p>This information must be added to LSC’s LoneStarAlert system once provided, typically during registration. This process is repeated at the start of each semester.  </p><p>The system is also designed as an opt-out system, rather than an opt-in (choosing to participate) system, in compliance with the code. LSC does not allow this data to be used for any other purpose.  </p><p>Some users are still reluctant to regist­er for LoneStarAlert for fear that their information will be sold to third-party marketers. Ensuring this personal information is only used for emergency use not only keeps LSC in compliance with state regulations, it also shows that the institution is committed to protecting users’ privacy.  </p><p>LSC has made a commitment to closely manage this information and grant access to it only on a need-to-know basis and as authorized.  ​</p><h4>targeting the lsc population </h4><p>For an MNS to work, the institution has to think of the recipients it wants to target and ensure the system is capable of sending alert messages to those target groups. </p><p>LSC identified its target groups as employees, distribution lists (internal and external response teams), dynamic groups (created as needed), geographical locations, networked equipment, students, contractors, tenants, and guests. </p><p>LSC also needed to consider its unique status as a commuter college without campus housing. Some students, employees, and guests visit different campus locations more than once throughout the semester. Sending an emergency communication to just one given area would limit the reach of the MNS, and might miss some individuals who are en route and others who want to know what is occurring on any LSC campus.  </p><p>Instead, the system would need to be structured to send emergency messages to all registered users, regardless of their location. This system would be easier for LSC to administer and more desirable for the LSC community. </p><p>LSC also knew that accessibility and inclusion would be key to the success of its MNS. The system would need to be accessible to individuals with physical, sensory, mental health, and cognitive or intellectual disabilities that affect their ability to function independently. </p><p>The system would also need to be inclusive of seniors, those with limited English proficiency, and unaccompanied minors on campus. LSC has dual education programs for high-school students, Discovery College for children during the summer, full- and part-time day care centers, high schools, and public libraries that all provide opportunities for underage guests on campus.  </p><p>To reach these individuals, LSC would need to design its MNS to provide information online and to enroll them through LoneStarAlert. Because minors cannot be asked directly for personal contact information, LSC would have to work with leaders of these various groups to contact parents and guardians—who would then provide the information that then allowed their child to be enrolled in the system. </p><p>LSC also knew that its system would need to reach the public libraries, four-year educational partners, school systems, executive conference centers, and commercial tenants that are a part of its campus. To reach these stakeholders, LSC would have to provide instructions and a means for individuals to self-register in LoneStarAlert. ​</p><h4>choosing the right integrator </h4><p>LSC awarded its initial MNS contract to a local system integrator, Convergint Technologies. They worked together to create LSC’s wide-area MNS, which is used for any hazard or threat that poses an imminent or present danger and requires immediate action. This includes an evacuation, shelter-in-place, or lockdown scenario. Advisories and alerts that do not pose an imminent or present danger are sent out via LSC e-mail. </p><p>LSC’s MNS is deployed using Windows and Microsoft SQL Servers in a secured and high availability environment. The servers are clustered into a shared pool of monitored resources, so if a host fails, the system immediately responds by restarting each affected host from a different host. </p><p>The MNS encodes and decodes audible signals and live-voice messages transmitted across a TCP/IP local area network using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). LoneStarAlert text, voice mail, and e-mail are delivered using a Web-based application hosted by the provider. </p><p>LSC’s wide-area MNS command system is located at the main administrative offices and is interconnected with each campus’ central control station, comprising the total system.  </p><p>Each campus is classified as a zone, and each building within a zone is considered a sub-zone. Most campuses have sub-zones that are interconnected. This configuration enables activation of prerecorded, live voice, or tone signals that can be sent to a sub-zone, zones, or the total system, providing redundancy throughout the system. </p><p>LSC police dispatch is responsible for immediately distributing voice messages or alert signals. It is authorized—and empowered—to send emergency messages to the affected populations using either prerecorded messages or live messaging via the wide-area MNS and LoneStarAlert.  </p><p>Dispatchers will send an alert when requested by an officer on the scene, or when requested by senior leadership. They will also issue an alert if there is credible information coming to the dispatch center that warrants sending a message. </p><p>As part of its initial installation, LSC included speakers for common areas with signals adjusted so the message could be heard through a closed door. However, the level of noise in the area impacts the level of intelligible voice or tone that can be heard.  </p><p>Additionally, LSC has video displays at all of its campuses where emergency messages are displayed using a digital management system. This ensures that individuals who cannot hear the emergency alerts do not miss them. </p><p>LSC also uses a buddy system where a buddy will help ensure a person with functional needs is supported, and first responders are aware of their last known positions and conditions. This information is then captured—when provided—in each campus fire safety plan. </p><p>As an additional measure, most LSC campus community members have cell phones. This enables those who are deaf or have other hearing impairments to receive emergency text messages and, where available, two-way communications using the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).  </p><p>The TRS bridges the communication gap between voice telephone users and people with hearing impairments by allowing users anywhere in the United States to dial 711 to be connected to a TRS operator. The operator then serves as a link for the call, relaying the text of the calling party in voice to the called party, and converting to text what the called party voices back to the calling party. </p><p>Following the initial setup, in-house resources assumed most of the responsibility for supporting the system over a five-year period. However, the system integrator supplements LSC resources.  </p><p>Additional system integrators are also used to provide support for the MNS. Sharing the service responsibilities among multiple vendors provides redundancy in the event a vendor is unable to provide services to one or more of LSC’s locations. ​</p><h4>testing </h4><p>Whether a fire exit drill or a lockdown drill, testing of emergency communications processes and systems is a base requirement. LSC has a rolling three-year sustainability and exercise program that’s part of the LSC Emergency Management Plan, which tests the LoneStarAlert and its MNS. </p><p>In the beginning, some questioned the approach and anticipated backlash from disrupting operations by testing the systems. However, LSC quickly learned that the process built confidence within the community that the school is doing its part to keep its campus safe. </p><p>Testing also gave users who were registered incorrectly and did not receive text message alerts a chance to inform LSC. Users who did receive texts and e-mail alerts could also report how long it took to receive them. </p><p>This helped LSC determine that, on average, more than 95 percent of regis­tered users received text and e-mail alerts within two to three minutes of activation. </p><p>On one occasion when LoneStarAlert was not tested during a larger emergency management drill, LSC received negative feedback, debunking the myth that testing the system during normal operations is viewed negatively. This approach has helped LSC align its MNS with its brand.   </p><p>-- </p><p><em>Denise Walker is chief emergency management officer at Lone Star College System, responsible for policy and direction on emergency management; safety and security audits; fire safety; environment, public health, and safety; and victim advocacy. She serves as the chair of the Greater Houston Local Emergency Planning Committee and is executive member of the Texas Emergency Management Advisory Committee. She is the author of several books, including Mass Notification and Crisis Communications: Planning, Preparedness, and Systems.   ​</em></p>GP0|#cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8;L0|#0cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8|Physical Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465