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Academy of Art College

Integrated Security Management System Offers Flexibility for Liberal Arts University

The Academy of Art College was established in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens, a fine art painter and creative director for Sunset Magazine. He opened the new school in a rented loft in the heart of San Francisco to teach advertising art. In 1992, Dr. Elisa Stephens, granddaughter of the school’s founder, succeeded her father as president. In 2004, the name of the school was changed to Academy of Art University in recognition of its depth, scope, and quality of education.

The Situation

18,000 students, AAU is the largest private school of art and design in the country. Since there are so many buildings and thousands of people coming and going each day, keeping track of that many was a major challenge. One factor to consider was the number of buildings. The campus comprises administration and classroom buildings, as well as residence halls, dining facilities, and computer labs. Fine art galleries, open to the public, offer more than 70 exhibitions each year to showcase student creations in painting, sculpture, jewelry and fashion. Yet another museum houses a unique collection of rare and vintage automobiles worth millions.

Another consideration was geography: AAU facilities are scattered across the entire city. “We like to say that San Francisco is our campus,” said Mike Petricca, director of campus safety. “Being in an urban setting, we have some concerns about gangs and other criminal activity, and have experienced some major losses from theft in the past. Because we’re serious about protecting everyone on campus, we wanted a system that would lock down all our buildings with a single keystroke.

“The Honeywell access control system has given AAU the ability to effectively manage people on campus, but it lets them stay flexible depending on the scenario.”

Dave Chritton Senior Systems Engineer Microbiz Security Co.

The Solution

The Academy’s risk management plan relies heavily on access control to protect staff, students and visitors throughout the urban campus. AAU turned to security integrator Microbiz Security Co. to design and install a security system that would offer a reliable way to protect people and property, as well as easily process thousands of student badges each semester.

Microbiz recommended Honeywell’s Pro-Watch® Corporate Edition security management system because it offers effortless badge management and controls the 200+ proximity readers installed on all exterior doors of AAU buildings. Pro-Watch integrates seamlessly with the VISTA® intrusion control panels that protect the galleries and other facilities, allowing the entire system to be managed from a single command center on campus that’s staffed 24/7—and an internal fiber optic network helps them avoid thousands of dollars each month in phone line fees.

At the beginning of every semester, each new student is issued a dual technology iClass card—a process that Petricca says takes only seconds. In addition to being used to grant access to AAU buildings, the card can be used at Point of Sale terminals at food service venues across campus, as identification to board the free city-wide shuttle AAU provides for its students, and even for time and attendance. A card can be disabled with one click if a student fails to pay tuition or drops out of classes, and at the end of each semester, all student cards are turned off until enrollment begins again for the next term.

For prospective students, campus visitors, and contractors, temporary badges are handled with Honeywell’s LobbyWorks® Visitor Management System. The badges can be programmed with unique criteria to allow short-term access to certain buildings at specific times, but data on each card is retained in the system so a permanent card can be produced instantly if a need arises in the future.

The Benefits

In addition to streamlining the process of managing access control, the Honeywell system reduced crime on campus immediately, which contributes to the culture of learning, serving, and creating. AAU is a high energy, vibrant community dedicated to providing a robust creative education, and it’s important to AAU administrators that students feel a sense of belonging in the school. “A large part of that feeling of community is making sure our students feel safe,” said Susan Toland, executive office strategist for AAU. “In addition to the security component, it’s also important to consider the customer service benefit we receive from the Honeywell system. That helps us make the best of the university experience and ensure maximum participation.”

The Products
  • Pro-Watch® Corporate Edition security management system
  • LobbyWorks® visitor management system
  • VISTA® control panel and keypad