Chevron aims for worldwide single-card access
 
Chevron aims for worldwide single-card access

Dec 1, 1998 12:00 PM
MICHAEL FICKES

Access control and closed-circuit television systems for Chevron Corp. reached a breaking point back in 1993 at one of its Bay area facilities. A software upgrade had halted system communication at the 143-acre, 15-building Chevron Park complex in San Ramon, Calif.When the access control system went off-line, the aging card readers defaulted to the facility code, giving employees access to virtually any door in the facility, even if they were unauthorized, says Roy Schleier, security coordinator for Chevron Real Estate Management Co., the Chevron subsidiary responsible for properties and facilities.Because the system combined components from numerous suppliers, fixing the original software problem was impossible. Schleier turned to Napa, Calif.-based Andersen/Mohr Associates, a security system design and consulting firm, where he learned the original software was not designed for security systems and new software could not speak to older-style systems. At the time, the company was still using DOS with no graphical user interfaces."The documentation was poor," says consultant Todd Andersen. "Plus people who wrote the software left, and there was no way to upgrade or support the system."The only alternative was to replace the stagnant custom package, Anderson says. However, it was difficult to find software capable of handling a system as large as Chevron Park's with 3,500 to 3,700 employees and independent contractors badged with Motorola photo-ID proximity cards with overlays from Fargo, Eden Prairie, Minn., which also provides the Persona model printers.One system on the market appeared capable of handling Chevron Park, but the C*Cure 1 Plus software by Software House, a subsidiary of the Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sensormatic Electronics Corp., only ran on a Power Macintosh system. TheWindows NT version, the C*Cure 800 product, was still in development at the time.Chevron, based in San Francisco, converted Chevron Park and two other Bay area facilities to a Macintosh system because the three locations needed to be able to communicate. The locations include a three-building complex in Concord and its outlying facility in neighboring Walnut Creek, and the headquarters in San Francisco. Chevron's fourth Bay area facility, Chevron Research Technology Co. in Richmond, operates its own independent security system.Meanwhile, Chevron still had a problem. It wanted to establish single-badge access for its worldwide sites but did not want to convert those sites to Mac-based systems.As a result, Chevron's other national and international locations today use Windows NT-based C*Cure 800, but the software is not designed to handle a company as large as Chevron Park. Chevron Corp. hopes to convert its Bay area facilities to Windows NT, upon the successful completion of the C* Cure 8000 software for larger systems, expected next year, according to Jeff Jorge, project manager for Chevron Real Estate Management Co.Back in the early 1990s when the company was looking around for alternative solutions, the goal was to find a product with a strong migration path from a company that would continue to provide enhancements in the form of new software releases. And they found this with the C*Cure 1 Plus product, Andersen says.Says Andersen: "C*Cure 1 Plus has a graphic user interface with mapping displays and alarm icons. We installed the core application and networking software on a VAX platform running a VMS operating system. Power Mac workstations using a Mac operating system provide the graphical front end."The system enabled us to network three facilities in the Bay area together - Chevron Park, Concord/ Walnut Creek and San Francisco - while providing a stand-alone host at each of the sites. At the same time, we networked the remote hosts or nodes back to a master located at Chevron Park. The master replicates all of the data and updates the data at each of the host sites in real time."In other words, a new employee in Concord can have his or her picture taken, receive a badge, get what we call a Bay area global clearance, and drive to Chevron Park. By the time the employee arrives, he or she will have security clearance to the appropriate doors at Chevron Park. Very few systems can provide this kind of clearance so quickly." Thanks to tight system integration, operators at any of the three badging stations can log on and access employee images stored in any of the three badging databases created by C*Cure Vision from Software House.Theoretically - although it has never been attempted - the entire Bay area network could be controlled by remote hosts in Concord or San Francisco. Upon an emergency at Chevron Park, an operator could forward the alarm monitoring and control functions to another facility, which could control Chevron Park, Andersen says.Field hardware includes about 64 Software House advanced processor controllers at Chevron Park, about 17 controllers in Concord/Walnut Creek and a handful of controllers at the headquarters.Motorola proximity card readers, operating from intelligent panels, control in-and-out access to about 100 revolving and ADA-compliant doors at Chevron Park, 80 doors at Concord/Walnut Creek and a few doors in San Francisco, where access is generally controlled by security officers who examine photo IDs displayed by employees and contractors.Software House panels allow maximum cabling flexibility. "We have panels communicating in three different ways," Andersen says. "Some are connected with RS-485 communications on copper; others tie into the system through RS-485 communications on fiber; a few use TCIP and ethernet instead of fiber. We chose the method best suited to the particular locations. The most common cabling method is copper, which is used throughout the Chevron Park installation."Andersen/Mohr also replaced the old CCTV system at Chevron Park with a new system integrated with the Software House access control network.The new CCTV system uses nine cameras to monitor the Chevron Park perimeter and parking lots, while 74 overlook building entrances and corridor entrances and exits linking buildings. Most exterior cameras are Burle pan/tilt/zoom models set inside high-speed domes. EMI housings protect fixed interior cameras.In the security center, a Burle matrix switcher manages cameras and provides variable-speed-joystick control of the system. Throughout Chevron Park, 825 alarm points guard doors, exterior grills and roof hatches. Alarm points near cameras are routed into the switcher, programmed to call up the appropriate camera if an alarm activates.Eight multiplexers supplied by Robot, a subsidiary of Sensormatic, split the video displayed on seven 20-inch Sony monitors into nine displays per monitor. Andersen/Mohr designed the control room to accommodate two operators. Typically, a single operator works the console. During emergencies, however, two operators can support each other's efforts.Fiber-optic cabling, transmitters and receivers supplied by International Fiber Systems of Newtown, Conn., connect cameras to the security center. "We installed fiber backbones in each of the buildings," Andersen says. "We decided on fiber-optic because we wanted to ensure high quality signal transmissions over cable runs averaging well over 1,000 feet each. Some cable runs go as far as 2,000 feet. If we had used copper cabling, we would have had to install repeaters, which would have created problems with signal quality. Fiber is also more durable than copper, which is important in the Bay area, where moist undergroundconditions can affect conduit runs."The new system was up and running in three of Chevron's Bay area facilities by the middle of 1996. Since then, Chevron Real Estate Management Co. project manager Jeff Jorge has been working on a plan to expand the system and deliver single card access to company employees and contractors.Chances are, this will involve converting the Bay area VAX/Power Mac hardware to Windows NT hardware, Jorge says. Additionally, developments in the hardware industry argue for a conversion to Windows NT, as the Mac-based C*Cure 1 Plus cannot merge with the Windows NT versions, Jorge notes.The 800 system can use equipment that is more readily available. VAX computers are no longer off-the-shelf items; PCs are. Jorge says that this is an important reason to move to the NT world.In light of this, Jorge has already installed C*Cure 800 for Windows NT in the La Habra and El Segundo facilities in Southern California. He plans to replace older systems in Texas and Louisiana facilities with 800 systems by August 1999. Chevron Park, which led to the discovery of C*Cure as well as the development of a prototype single-card system, remains the fly in the ointment of global compatibility."If we like what we see with the 800 systems in the rest of the country, then we will probably propagate that system to the Bay area," Jorge says. "We're hoping that the C*Cure 8000 version of the software will be able to handle Chevron Park. Another possibility for Chevron Park is to find a way to network a series of 800 systems together. If those options don't work, then we will go to another generation of software for the VAX system called C*Cure 1 Plus Ultra, which will accommodate PCs, and allow us to develop a Windows-compatible hardware base."In any event, Chevron has come a long way since 1993. And sooner rather than later, the company's tens of thousands of employees and tens of thousands of contractors will have single-card access to any and all Chevron facilities worldwide.In addition to its Bay area facilities, Chevron operates three installations in Southern California, in La Habra, El Segundo, and Bakersfield. Fourteen additional sites sprinkle the states of Texas and Louisiana, with regional headquarters housed in Houston and New Orleans. Chevron has international locations as well.

 
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