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News

Role Based Access Control Tightens Security At NHS Facility In London

Access Control Technology (ACT) : 10 September, 2010  (Application Story)
ACT has provided a busy London acute care facility with an IP based access control system with role based access permissions based on job function, seniority, working hours and other criteria for enhanced security within the 950-bed campus
Role Based Access Control Tightens Security At NHS Facility In London
A hospital is by its very nature a public place with a constant flow of patients, staff and visitors where urgency associated with clinical admissions may conflict with entrance control measures. Screening visitors may slow down movement but is vital to security and can be part of a delicate balancing act for facilities managers. Access control in hospitals receives serious consideration from all parties as can be seen in this case study.

King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of London's largest and busiest hospitals. It provides a full range of local services for over 700,000 people in south-east London. The Trust is recognised internationally for its research in the field of liver disease and operates the largest liver transplantation programme in Europe.

The hospital site in Denmark Hill has a 950-bed acute care facility and acts as a referral centre in its fields of expertise for the wider population of southern England. The Trust has complex needs for role-based access control which are being met by installer NT Security working in association with Dublin-based Access Control Technology (ACT).

Security requirements at King's make subtle demands on manufacturers. Role-based access control has been implemented at multiple levels in the hospital by establishing a relationship between job profiles and appropriate privileges in terms of ability to move around the campus.

The Trust works closely with police on security matters and initially NT Security received an enquiry from the Metropolitan Police regarding a specific problem. Andy Purvis, Managing Director of NT Security, said: "After we addressed immediate police concerns on site it became apparent that the legacy access control system could not meet the Trust's needs. They needed functionality that would enable them to distinguish between levels of seniority within the medical and administrative workforces, areas of practice for clinicians (which could change weekly) and even simple criteria such as gender and likely hours of work."

Andy continued: "Access control cards had to contain precise information on an individual's profile, job description, responsibilities and seniority. In turn, as an installer, we needed the support of a manufacturer whose equipment could not only create a hierarchy of privileges but would allow for growth and continued alterations at individual and group level. The Trust currently receives 150 requests a day for changes of access rights and has a permanent member of staff implementing these. My engineers have recently audited activity on ACT's ACTWin pro software and they report that 50 million transactions (this being anything that is recorded on the ACT system) have been carried out in the last six months. Even at tender stage this likely level of usage was not apparent."

The ACT offering suggested itself immediately since networking the company's units to a PC allows up to 2,000 doors to be monitored on a single system with 30,000 users. Crucially, the flexible protocols that characterise the controllers meant they could function with the existing third-party readers already on site. This kind of transparency appealed to the client and an initial 140 doors were fitted with ACTpro 3000 controllers. There are now over 500 doors on the system. It was also a vital requirement that the controllers could work off-line where necessary without a network connection.

There were immense cost savings but the approach was also 'green' in terms of its use of component materials. The Trust could not only continue using existing locking systems but was able to retain ancillary units such as power supplies and exit devices. It should be remembered that large areas of the hospital are devoted to clinical procedures in sterile conditions that can be compromised by any form of engineering activity, so minimising installation work was advantageous. Similarly, intrusion by security technicians into the core functioning of the hospital was reduced. A final plus factor - and one that avoided a potential logistical nightmare at a site of this complexity - was that the controllers were able to function from existing IT cabling on the Trust's LAN, so avoiding the need to lay additional hard wiring in all but a few locations.

The flexibility of the ACT controllers is endorsed by the fact that currently the Trust has approximately 10,000 staff, all of whom use cards from the legacy system. Given the complexities of photo ID and enrolment details, calling in such a large volume of cards would not have been viable. ACT's engineers adapted their offering so that it would not only operate with the existing cards but function with the inherited database.

Naturally, at a hospital site, product reliability is paramount and there must be fail-safe override in the event of emergency as well as the ability to ensure unimpeded entry for crash teams. Logistics managers at the Trust rely on the access control system to create a subtle hierarchy of access rights for different users with hundreds of distinct levels. Access may be granted at certain times of day only according to a member of staff's profile. The range of building types to secure is broad and includes operating theatres, childcare facilities, the dental school and a pharmacy that contains significant holdings of medication that would have enormous street value in the event of theft. The access control is complemented by extensive CCTV consisting predominantly of PTZ and dome cameras from Honeywell and Samsung, the units being both analogue and IP-addressable. Recording is to DVRs from the Dedicated Micros Sprite range.

The Trust has been quick to realize the value of IP Surveillance and is looking to integrate CCTV fully with access control. ANPR is being considered and the potential of Video Analytics is being assessed. There are extensive measures to prevent unauthorised intrusion across the whole campus with special focus on sensitive areas.
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