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November 23, 2023


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Access control

Newport Aquarium replaces traditional locks with ID access control

A US aquarium has had ID access control by Paxton put in place for higher security around the site and sensitive areas. 

Newport Aquarium, located in Newport, Kentucky, United States is home to thousands of exotic aquatic creatures, including penguins, rare white alligators, and sharks and stingrays.

To keep the animals, visitors, and staff safe, Newport Aquarium has replaced their old security system with a high-security access control solution – Paxton’s Net2.
Net2 is a PC-based access control system that offers centralised administration. It is also designed to easily integrate with other access control systems, so site managers can have more streamlined security for their building.

“Looking for keys in front of a door is not ideal”

The IT team at Newport Aquarium also wanted a system that utilised access cards, allowing them to customise employee ID cards as access cards and increasing access convenience.

David Fortunato, Senior Regional IT Manager at the Newport Aquarium, said: “Most of our doors used locks and keys, and some had swipe card readers. At the aquarium we have a lot of doors and a lot of employees who need to carry equipment up and down stairs, so looking for keys in front of a door is not ideal.

“We really wanted to have one system on our exterior and critical safety doors, and also make access convenient for our employees.”

“Even though the products are installed and secured in cases and locked rooms, being an aquarium, we have heavy amounts of moisture and salt in the air. It can chew up the products.”

Another factor that needed consideration when designing the installation was the possibility of integrating the aquarium’s existing wired infrastructure and security products with the new system.

Sec-Tron, an access control solutions company, installed the Paxton products, with Tom Riegler, Sales and Project Manager at Sec-Tron, saying: “We did a Net2 product demonstration to Newport Aquarium’s IT team. We told them we could use all the existing cabling, readers, door handles and panels. We said we could retrofit the existing hardware with the Net2 door controllers and make it a clean installation.”

“The expandability of the new system was the customer’s main concern. They also liked Net2’s pricing structure.”

Software managing up to 1000 doors 

The software is said to manage up to 1,000 doors and 50,000 users, with the Aquarium now using employee ID cards as Net2’s access tokens. The employees scan their IDs at the staff entrance and go through physical screening to enter the aquarium.

Once they are in the park, they need to present badges at each door to be given access for a certain number of hours, based on their role and duties.

David said: “With our old lock-and-key doors, it was hard to keep track of keys. It is one of the biggest benefits that Net2 has brought, that we could replace all those keys with badges and just keep a few keys for emergency. It provides better tracking, higher security, and greater convenience for our employees.”

“We use the timeline feature to tailor access hours and levels of each door. When it’s after the aquarium’s opening time, we lock the doors to prevent unauthorised access.

“Another feature we use a lot is the intruder alarm relay. If someone accidentally goes through our emergency exit, it will sound the horn through the relay and alert our staff to go check and make sure no one has gone to an area that they are not supposed to.”

Keep up with the wireless access control market

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  • The current state of wireless access control solutions in the market
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  • Awareness of cyber security regulations and how this relates to access control
  • The growing use of the cloud and ACaaS to manage access systems
  • How your choice of access control solution can impact sustainability

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