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Electronic access control for London exhibition venue

Salto Systems : 31 July, 2008  (Application Story)
ExCeL London to be equipped with electronic keyless locking system for its 1000s of doors and staff to ensure the prestigious venue achieves the best levels of security
Electronic access control for London exhibition venue
The capital's premier exhibition venue ExCeL London is pushing ahead with an ambitious upgrade programme, installing advanced electronic access control technology from Salto Systems to improve their on-site security control.

Located just five minutes from London City Airport and close to Canary Wharf and the Docklands Light Railway, ExCeL London is the capital's largest conference and exhibition centre offering an impressive 90,000m2 of display space. It is home to 8 out of 10 of London's top trade shows, including the British International Motor Show and the London Boat Show, and will also be the host venue for Martial Arts, Boxing, Table Tennis and Paralympics events of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"ExCeL London is a huge site with thousands of doors and staff, contractors and visitors needing access to certain areas and levels, so controlling security and who is entitled to go where and when is crucial" comments Will Bosworth of AFS Security, ExCeL London's Preferred Security Partner and Salto's Authorised Service Centre for the area.

"Originally fitted with traditional mechanical locks and keys when the venue first opened in 2001, these have now proved to be something of a liability as the venue has grown and its share of the international exhibition market has increased. Greater staff numbers have also led to an increasing number of control issues, with so many keys having to be carried around on bunches that security was becoming ever more difficult to manage.

Not only were the keys cumbersome to carry, but they were also time consuming and expensive to replace when lost - not to mention the potential security implications - and given that it was also impossible to obtain any sort of audit information, showing which keys had opened which doors and when, it was decided mechanical locking had had its day. It was time to retro-fit a more state-of-the-art solution to lock down the venue" continues Bosworth.

So far, as part of a rolling programme of door upgrades, 363 smartcard Electronic Locks have been fitted across site replacing mechanical or pin code locks in the Main Boulevard, Management Suite, the Security Control Room, the Platinum Suite, Service Subways, IT Rooms, Gallery Rooms, Plant Rooms, and even External Portakabins.

Of these 90% are Salto Comfort smartcard electronic locks, with the remaining 10% being Comfort security smartcard locks. All are finished in satin stainless steel.

These locks are specifically designed for use with internal and external doors, and are approved to withstand fire for 1 hour. Simple and quick to install, power is supplied via 3 AAA batteries good for up to 45,000 openings. Each lock can support up to 64,000 users, more than enough for ExCeL London's needs, and they also feature anti-vandal protection to safeguard their electronics, housed in the inner backplate, on the inside of the door.

So far only one of the retro-fitted doors is on line, with the remainder operating off line but there are plans to change this to a fully on line operation in line with ExCeL London's plans to streamline staff access into the venue by putting update points on strategically sited main access points. All staff will then have to validate their cards at these points as they arrive for work with cards having to be re-validated every 24 hours to continue operating and ensure their access rights are retained.

David Meech, Security Manager at ExCeL London, says: "Linking our new Electronic Locks to our computer network has bought much greater flexibility to our access control. The benefits of this are particularly applicable to temporary events, such as our exhibitions and conferences where access rights must be changed before, during and after the event. This is a constant task where we have to keep reprogramming locks to suit show schedules, for instance programming the particular exhibition organiser's office so that access is permitted only during the period of that exhibition.

One aspect of this reprogramming can be a real headache, particularly during a large, busy show, and that's when we've got lots of contractors coming on site to build up their exhibition stands. To better control this whole process therefore we're looking at using Salto to totally control hall access via the main shutter doors - ensuring contractors can only access the halls through these points and then only for a time limited period, with further access into the building denied.
Once the event is over, access rights to the doors can be cancelled and the shutters simply reprogrammed for the next event. This means we would have far fewer doors to programme and it should give us unparalleled security and control during the whole build up process and is something that would not have been possible with our previous security arrangements."

Simon Willetts, Director of Operations at ExCeL London, concludes "Salto gives us the all the benefits of a centrally controlled security system and absolutely meets all our needs for access control. Its audit trail facility is particularly useful and is used daily and with Phase 2 of ExCeL under construction and due for completion in 2010, adding 35,000 sq ft of new exhibition space and facilities, it is a product we will be installing a lot more of."
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