Aug 1, 2003 12:00 PM

Its reach and responsibility are staggering when it comes to providing medical services to those in need. Patients scattered over more than half of the earth's surface rely on the skills and expertise found at Tripler Army Medical Center. Located in the lush tropical paradise of Honolulu, the 1 million sq. ft. hospital is responsible for providing health care to American military forces and their dependents throughout the Pacific Rim.

More than 800,000 people are eligible to receive care at the Pacific Regional Medical Command's premier teaching medical center. Military personnel and their dependents, retirees and citizens of various Pacific Island nations have received care at the facility.

The center boasts a team of more than 600 members of the Professional Filler System (PROFIS). This team of medical professionals is ready for deployment at a moment's notice, if needed, to South Korea and on humanitarian and emergency missions.

In today's political climate and with so much at stake, it was no surprise that the military decided that the medical center, along with an attached Veterans Administration facility, needed a highly upgraded access control and security system.

Almost seven years ago, officials began considering their needs and available options. At the time, the medical center had an aging piecemeal system with limited video coverage available only from a single room. Just two of the hospital's seven wings, along with the psychiatric ward, were covered by a security system. Video storage was severely limited, and only two of the available cameras were capable of pan/tilt/zoom function.

The badging system was integrated with the access control system for use with prox cards, but there was no capacity to limit or regulate access. Essentially anyone with a prox card could go anywhere and gain access to any door with a reader just as if they had a master key.

"They were using access control as a glorified door entry system," says Andrew Lanning, president of Honolulu-based Integrated Security Technologies Inc. which became the system integrator for the project. "The one thing they wanted to do was to be able to limit access rights so that people were allowed in certain areas at certain times of the day. They also wanted documentation tied to the video."

Military officials decided that Tripler needed an integrated package that could be implemented as part of a large fiber-optic system installation that would upgrade the entire facility.

"Looking at it from a manpower standpoint and from the areas that we wanted to be able to lock down, we wanted everything to be integrated together off the two or three separate systems we have up here," explains Sgt. David Poppert, operations officer at the medical center.

North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold Inc. won the contract for the project, and after a careful review, officials selected Rochester, N.Y.-based Lenel Systems International Inc.'s access control platform.

Integration, however, was only the first consideration. The second, and perhaps most important, was a high level of redundancy. If this were going to be a secure system, it could not be allowed to go down even for a short time.

The Lenel OnGuard System delivers the ability to function with alarm panels supplied by other manufacturers. The database backbone of the Lenel OnGuard system at Tripler is a clustered Microsoft's SQL server implementation with a LEGATO 2000 clustering solution provided by Mountain View, Calif.-based LEGATO Systems Inc. This clustering solution offers the advantage of maintaining mirror images of the system's core database services and data-storage drives across two identical servers.

"If you lose a critical component of the primary server, or it goes off line for whatever reason, the SQL database services will transfer automatically to the standby server," Lanning explains. "The redundant architecture was another feature of Lenel systems that Tripler seized upon."

The Lenel system integrated easily with a new selection of Pelco Spectra pan/tilt/zoom cameras, coupled with ProxPro readers and keypads supplied by HID Corp. These devices cover some 200 doors in the most sensitive areas of the facility, including the pharmacy, psychiatric ward, entrances and exits, as well as parking lots and certain areas of the VA Center.

"If someone tries to force entry or attempts to gain entry and it's not authorized, the camera will turn to that doorway and then the system will give me the picture of a badge," Poppert explains. "If the person is using an unauthorized badge, the video will turn to and give me a picture of that doorway."

The system's graphical user interface not only provides an audible and visual intrusion alarm, but also allows the operator to see an image of the ID (prox card) being used. The PTZ camera covering that area will then provide an image of the door where the attempted entry took place and, most likely, an image of the person attempting the entry.

The system even allows the control room to tie in a remote military facility. Access control and monitoring provides security for a pharmacy at Scofield Army Barracks, located some 20 miles away. Data is relayed back to Tripler via IP.

Camera feeds can be viewed from several locations within the hospital a marked improvement over the old system that limited monitoring to a single room.

A smart card interface has also been set up at the badging station located in the central area that officials say will be up and running at a later date. For the moment they are waiting until the military is able to establish a final Common Access Card (CAC) standard.

The heart of Tripler's security system is its central monitoring room. In this area, officers can watch screens that switch back and forth between cameras. Nearby, racks of digital video recorders maintain a record of events captured by cameras. Two out of every three frames are kept to provide a 30-day backup stored in digital format.

That visual record has proven extremely useful in solving crimes in a variety of areas. One man was captured removing a laptop computer from an office within the building, while parking lot cameras captured a hit-and-run driver.

"It really comes in handy on the psychiatric ward," Poppert says. "We had an allegation of rape in this area, but we had the video for the 12 hours he was in there and nobody ever came into the room. So that allowed us to avoid having to bring (security) people in here and waste perhaps 200 to 300 man-hours on an investigation that would have resulted in discovering nothing happened."

Few things will change a false story faster than video images that conclusively demonstrate someone is lying. Recently, for example, a woman came into the office to report that she had returned to her car in the parking lot and found her windshield smashed. A review of the video cameras in the area revealed that her car window was already damaged as she drove into the lot.

Tripler officials say the robust nature of the system promises great opportunities for expansion, not only within the hospital, but outside as well.

"In this area alone there are four installations within two miles," Poppert says. "While my department covers the hospital area, the exterior is run through the area Provost Marshall from Fort Shafter. We could integrate connections with them so that they could view our exterior cameras."

He adds that presently the Tripler system is only being used at up to 10 percent of its capability and could eventually be converted for use on a more regional basis.

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