It was a truly beautiful day when I stopped by the Shatford Center, home of the Okanagan School of the Arts, to take an in depth look at their rather astounding security system, and interview the site manager Kim.
This school is located on Main Street in Penticton, BC. They occupy a stunning, nearly century old building that is considered a historical treasure in Penticton, and for good reason.
But with this old style building came some classic problems:
Old doors, Old locks, and old fashioned procedures.
Beautiful Landscaping being terrorized by delinquents lurking around outside.
Different tenants with different access requirements.
The school had old doors which didn’t latch well, old locks with even older keys that were a security risk, and their original procedures for access hadn’t been updated in nearly 60 years.
Their idea of access for individuals was a phone call to a custodian inside who would then let you in.
If he missed the call, you waited outside. Or if he was busy. Or a multitude of other reasons which caused you to have to wait outside for the custodian to let you in.
Everyone has driven past this building on Main. The hundred year old trees, the beautiful brick walls, and the sculpted lawns all add create a wonderful ambiance of peace for those who sit and enjoy the shade or a picnic on the grass.
But you know what doesn’t add to the ambiance?
Garbage from vandalizers defacing the walls.
Garbage from addicts littered all over the grass and walkways.
Garbage from vagrants who used those beautiful lawns as their one stop drop shop.
This otherwise idyllic area was plagued by these problems.
In a school of the arts, they have people with all sorts of requirements.
Wednesday nights they have a ‘live draw’ group which needed special rooms.
Saturday morning is music classes.
Permanent office renters who didn’t have the ability to secure their individual rooms. They needed a way to allow all these individual needs to be organized efficiently.
All of these problems combined into quite a hazardous and difficult work situation for management. If someone needed to come setup for the farmers market at 6AM, the manager (or the custodian) had to be there.
If there was garbage left overnight on the lawn, the manager (or the custodian) had to risk their health to clean it up before the schools’ students arrived.
Even if the person was permitted to be inside, if they wanted to work late, the manager (or the custodian) had to wait for them to finish so they could lock the door.
Some of the highlights include:
- Individual Room Keyless Entry
- Outside Cameras
- Customizable key fob access control
- Phone app control and organization
The system was rebuilt from the doors in. New doors and access control using individual key fobs allow access to the building was installed. This, combined with internal sensors, allowed targeted access to each room in the building.
Groups which only used the auditorium on the first floor did not anymore have access to the company space on floor 2.
Each individual company on floor two had keyless entry and individually controlled access to their location.
The farmers market were given a key fob for access so the manager could enjoy not waking up before dawn on Saturdays.
Multiple other groups were given individual access, and only on the days they required, reducing risk.
And finally, the custodian was given a weekend off for a vacation for the first time in 60 years because they were not required to be the keeper of keys for the entire building.
An incredible result.
“When we upgraded to this system, one of the uses we put it to was giving the RCMP a key fob so they could have ‘eyes above’ on the problem makers out front. In return, the RCMP arrested 5 individuals caught supplying narcotic substances to others as a direct result of this access. “ - Kim
“They also used AI enabled external cameras to alert management the instant vagrants arrived, getting bylaw and the Police to trespass individuals off the property before they could discard litter all over the property. “ - Kim
“Once people realized things were being monitored, we just don’t have those people on the lawn anymore. This year (2020) is nothing like last year.” - Kim
With the new systems in place, it did fall onto one person’s shoulders to ensure access is available when needed. It can be organized in advance, during business hours, and with the simplicity of confirming the correct checkboxes inside the App.
According to Kim: “Local has been great. Through all the transitions, I would say ‘Local, I have a new person, please come train them!’ and they always did. It was such a huge help to me. They spent a lot of time figuring out how to make the building more usable, and safer, and that is a good combo.”
In a word, Kim said “Convenient. It is so much easier for all individuals who need to access the building, and much safer for the parking lot and the lawns. The fact we were able to reassign fobs ourselves was pretty d[arn] convenient. And it freed up staff hours to work on other things as well!”
Good luck in the future with the Okanagan Center of the Arts Kim! With you are the helm, the school has no worries even through the worst of storms.