Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) was set up in 2007 by Blackpool Council to manage its housing stock of almost 5,000 homes. To offer residents the highest level of security, access control and door entry products from PAC and GDX have been installed across its estate, in order to utilise the benefits of cloud based remote monitoring.
With a mission to provide and maintain good quality homes for Blackpool Council’s tenants and leaseholders, BCH has won a number of awards and accreditations for housing, repairs, customer services and community projects.
New and improved
The safety and security of residents is a high priority for BCH, which is why it has used PAC & GDX products for many years. During this time the primary system was made up of a GDX5 door entry system, along with an Indigo 1000 access control system, which were fully integrated.
‘We have a policy of continual improvement in the service we provide,’ explains Anthony Walker, Mechanical & Electrical Officer at BCH. ‘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 utilises the existing GDX5 front panels, which have been integrated with the PAC 512 controllers to create a highly innovative 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 a faster and cost effective means of connecting remote sites via a mobile network. It provides an enhanced service over traditional mobile/landline telephone connections and makes administration of the system more flexible.
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 system 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 quickly rectified.
Explaining the benefits of using PAC 512, Andrew Burton, area sales manager at PAC & GDX 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.’
Up in the sky
BCH can also access information via the PAC Residential Cloud – helping to further enhance its remote monitoring operation. 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 any special information such as extended door release times for specific residents.
With a number of vulnerable residents, BCH worked with PAC & GDX to generate reports which show when a key fob hasn't been used for a specific period of time. Anthony Walker comments, ‘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 to ensure that the process was achieved as seamlessly as possible. Configuring the physical hardware was helped by the installation team’s existing knowledge of PAC & GDX technology. On-site training was also provided by experts from PAC & GDX and, on the very rare occasion when there was a problem, a full 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 information 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 information into new system was straightforward – so much so that tenants didn't even realise any change had taken place. In addition, having access control data in the cloud means that it is always backed up.
BCH’s Anthony Walker considers the installation a total success and concludes, ‘I initiated this upgrade project because I firmly believed that it would improve tenant satisfaction and make our overall operation more efficient. I’m delighted that both of these objectives have been achieved and that PAC & GDX access control technology has improved security, safety and protection across our estate.’