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Security Retrofit Considerations


I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, managing security retrofits.

Facility managers at Miami Children's Hospital have a clear vision for the new central operations center they established as part of a major addition to the 1.2-million-square-foot main campus.

"We're turning this into what you'd find with a 911 system," says Philip Doyle, the hospital's director of public safety and emergency preparedness. One of the biggest challenges related to the security upgrade was that it was a retrofit, not an installation for a new construction project.

"I put in systems before where it was brand new, but here we were taking an existing system and upgrading it," Doyle says. "You never know what you're going to find."

Despite the challenges the upgrade posed for certain types of technology the hospital specified, the access-control system was fairly simple to retrofit. The hospital installed proximity readers throughout the new central energy plant and in other parts of the facility, and the team hopes to replace the remaining swipe-card systems soon, Doyle says.

"That's an easy process," he says of retrofitting the card readers. "You take the reader down, plug in the new proximity reader, bring it back up, and you're good to go. Where the difficulty comes in is that you have 3,000 employees that you have to issue 3,000 new IDs to. Right now, we're in the process of capturing all the employees' photos, trying to upload as much of their information as we can into the access-control system."

Proximity cards grant occupants access after they hold the card within about 6 inches of the reader. This system makes it easier for hospital personnel — whether transporting materials and patients or rushing to attend to an emergency — to move about the facility because they do not have to pull out an ID and swipe it across the reader. The new cards also contain more details about building occupants, such as emergency-contact information.

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