At CAE, a new level of security
At CAE, a new level of security

Mar 1, 2001 12:00 PM

Every weekday, 4,000 employees, 500 temporary workers and 600 visitors walk through the doors of CAE Inc., the world's premier provider of flight training services and simulation and control technologies in the aerospace, defense and forestry sectors.

Up until seven years ago, about 25 cars and numerous computer components and electronic instruments were stolen yearly at the Montreal-based company. Employees would enter and exit the buildings observed only by guards who looked at the employees' ID badges. CAE's minimal CCTV system covered only one offsite warehouse, leaving its 1.2 million-sq.- ft. main plant and the seven exterior buildings within a six-mile radius of the main building protected only by guard patrol.

With its rudimentary security in need of upgrading, CAE hired Michel Gingras as manager of security and emergency preparedness. His main objective was to upgrade security's image and efficiency. Clifford Watson was also brought on board a few months later as security service coordinator to establish a trained and supervised guard force comprised of agents from Garda of Canada and to upgrade the company's electronic security system.

One of the new security management team's first moves was to secure all employee entrances with cameras, high-security gates and card access. Loading docks and offsite warehouses were equipped with card access for entry and exit. Motion detectors and alarm points were installed where required so that when breached, the security command post is alerted and a security patrol is dispatched.

Gyyr's AXxess 202 building management software and VideoKey badging system play key roles in the new system. VideoKey consists of a color camera, on-demand color PVC card printer, video capture system and card image software. It stores each badgeholder's image and credentials and operates off the same database as AXxess 202. When a new employee is issued a badge, his name and credentials are also automatically added to the system database.

CAE security personnel at its seven security terminals can view data from the ID cards because AXxess 202 is installed on Windows NT-based personal computers.

As a contractor for military and defense departments throughout the world, CAE needed to take extra measures to meet customer security requirements. Card access systems with an anti-passback feature were installed at certain entry points to ensure that individuals can not re-enter unless an exit reader has recorded the card. Access points to the site where proprietary customer work is being done have CCTV feeds into the security control center, and emergency doors are monitored with contact points that alert the control center with a high-priority message via AXxess 202.
Managing foot traffic

The high security gates at the three main employee entrances have integrated card readers. Manufactured by Automatic Systems America Inc., the gates record an average of 16,000 transactions per day. Sensors in the side panels and on the floor alert CAE security if an unauthorized person attempts to follow an authorized employee or visitor through the gates. The gates can also be programmed to stay open until an infraction occurs, or open only when a valid badge is inserted into the reader.

Data from the ID badges include not only the cardholder's name, photo and access levels, but also the holder's security clearance level, indicated by the color of the frame around the photo. To verify the badge number, the software reads the encrypted bar code printed on the badge. The back of the badge indicates property the holder is entitled to carry through the security checkpoints. If an employee or visitor walks through the gates carrying a large item, a guard will step forward and ask to see the item. The guards also conduct random checks of briefcases and lunch bags.

From the basic employee identification data, security personnel can also verify the parking stickers assigned to each employee to help control CAE's 3,000-vehicle parking facilities.

Visitors who plan to be at CAE for a week or more are issued photo-ID badges, while those on shorter-term visits receive generic visitor badges. The visitor's point of contact at CAE is entered into the AXxess 202 database to enable security to track down the visitor quickly when needed. Approximately 1,000 visitor badges are active at any given time.

The security and emergency preparedness department estimates that the system processes approximately 18,000 transactions per day, from both perimeter and interior zones, which includes about 150 interior doors equipped with Gyyr Barlock card readers.

Before VideoKey was in place, badge preparation was a time-consuming process. Polaroid photos of employees were affixed to preprinted badge material. Then preprinted barcodes, and strips of tape to obscure the barcode, were applied, and all the pieces were laminated together.

Currently, about 50 percent of CAE employees have badges from the VideoKey system. Security processes all new employees and also upgrades 10-20 employees per day, along with anyone who needs a new badge.

The integration between AXxess 202 and VideoKey has helped the busy security staff tighten its entry-point controls. According to Watson, "In the past, when someone forgot their badge, all they had to do was remember their employee number. Now we verify it with a picture. It's like night and day from a security standpoint."

With 15 to 20 new people joining CAE every week, the security department relies on VideoKey and AXxess 202 to process the new employees quickly and efficiently. Tracking issues such as employee suspensions is easier with Axxess 202's ability to deny access to an employee for a predetermined period.
Unlimited access levels

AXxess 202 allows an unlimited number of access levels, a critical feature for CAE. The company's constantly changing employee-access needs forced security to take an unorthodox approach to assigning access levels. Employees need to enter various areas to get their work done, so the basic access code levels were designed and other requirements were customized. With VideoKey, badge access levels can be changed with a few keystrokes.

An employee's access level can only be changed if authorized by his department. If an employee personally requests access to a particular area, his or her departmental authority must send a confirmation, via e-mail, to security. To keep the system under control, security is in constant communication with CAE departmental authorities. The ability to print custom reports from the system comes in handy. Security prints out a list of the areas an employee has access to and sends it to all departments every month. Each department must update the list because of job changes and confirm that the employees' access is still required. The system can also provide time-and-attendance reports.

CAE's 17 guards have various levels of access to the system. It is password-protected, making it convenient for management to give guards entry to only necessary functions. According to Watson, the system's ease of use has made his staff more efficient. "It's a simple system. The guards at night aren't afraid of accessing the system to unlock doors or check access levels," he says.

The security department's future plans call for an upgraded matrix system to automate camera functions so that when a door is open, the camera will switch on. Currently, 115 cameras are placed at or near doors. When an alarm occurs, the guard identifies the location by looking at the monitors, which are split into 16 camera views.

With the addition of technology, CAE has saved money in several ways. Security reduced staff from 28 to 17. With state-of-the-art security equipment and a well-trained, dedicated guard force, CAE's security is able to deliver a higher level of professional service.

And it shows on the bottom line.
Outgrowing the "cop" image

Upgrading its electronic security system was an important component in the CAE security department's quest to earn more respect among employees. Security set out to change the company 'cop' image and become a group that contributes to the company's successful operation.

The department's new charter was put to the test when employees were first faced with using the high-security gates and card readers. It represented a change in employee culture. Some employees had been at CAE for 25 years, and now security was asking for a badge. Some employees were not receptive to the newly tightened security measures.

CAE approached the challenge by gradually phasing in the new system. This helped ease the employees' apprehension while letting them know that the security department respected their concerns. When the gates were first installed, they were left open and non-functional for a week to allow employees to become accustomed to the new equipment. They were made functional the following week, but it wasn't mandatory that employees use them until the third week.

During this orientation period, a TV monitor and VCR were installed at each entrance so that employees could watch a video from Automatic Systems America Inc. that explained the gate system's operation and showed how the system is used at other organizations.

Once the system was fully functional, management spent time at the entrances in the rush hours to show support for the system.

Extra services currently provided to employees include jump-starting cars when batteries die, unlocking locked vehicles, providing a shuttle service in bad weather from the parking to the entrance doors and offering to escort employees to their cars at night. The security staff is also trained in first aid and emergency response.

The respect earned from this extra effort has paid off. According to Gingras, "Over the years we've provided a professional service to employees and management. In the process, we've earned their trust. It has made our job a lot easier."
Gyyr 20
Automatic Systems America 21

  • High-Stakes Monitoring
  • The debate about open architecture
  • Wired Thermostat Microvideo Monochrome Security Camera
  • Suit of Armor
  • e-Home Terminal
  • Facial Recognition Systems Work
  • Washing Machines Work
  • Smoke Detector Tips
  • Cielo Home Gateway
  • Compare Security Camera Products