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Floored by security.

Limiting access from the elevator to a specific floor can be difficult for a business that is one of a number of tenants in a multi-story building. Argent Management of Los Angeles solved the problem when it installed SpreadCOM, a wireless access control system.

Argent, which is involved in sensitive worker's compensation cases, wanted to restrict access to the fourth floor where its 125 employees work. Using a combination of hard-wire and wireless units manufactured by Northern Computers, the firm was able to accomplish its objective, even though thirty other tenants occupy the five-story building.

Before SpreadCOM was installed Argent limited access to the floor using barrel-lock keys but experienced problems with people jamming the locks. The company then considered installing a hard-wired system; however, the elevators dated back to the 1960s and were not equipped with cable for a hard-wired system. The cost to replace the existing cable--around $8,000--was prohibitive. SpreadCOM, which was installed for about a third of the cost, proved to be a cost-effective solution.

The SpreadCOM system works without any wires or cables. Instead, it uses a technology called spread spectrum, which is based on radio frequency signals. The technology has been used for military communications systems since World War II. Northern's SpreadCOM system uses these signals for communications between all of the transceiver and transmitter components within the system. The signals are transmitted over an entire bandwidth (902 to 928 MHz) rather than a single frequency to avoid jamming, thereby enhancing security.

As part of the system, magstripe card readers have been installed in the building's two elevators. Argent employees swipe their cards into the reader when they enter the elevator, instructing the car to stop on the fourth floor. Without a valid access card, the elevator by-passes the fourth floor. The entire system, including card readers and control panels, is controlled through Northern's PC-based software, PC-PAK.

The other businesses in the building are located on the first three floors, and a kitchen is located on the fifth floor. If, however, someone is still on the elevator when it reaches the fourth floor, employees have been instructed not to get off and to continue to the fifth floor. "It's a small enough company that people don't have a problem identifying other employees," says purchasing manager Arthur Villacorta. "There is also a receptionist who screens people as they get off the elevator."

The system has been in place since last September. It has worked smoothly overall, but on occasion power surges in an elevator have shut down the card reader. Engineered Protection Services, the company that installed the system, is working with the elevator company to solve the problem.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Security Works; access to building floors
Author:Addis, Karen; Arbetter, Lisa; Murphy, Joan; Wilson, Caroline
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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