On many days, between 75 and 100 non-staff members typically enter and exit the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office (VBSO), a complex consisting of three connected buildings, including a correctional facility. For years, administrators employed a paper-based system to manually check contract workers, medical personnel, clergy, volunteers and other visitors into and out of the Virginia Beach, Va., facility. It is critical to know who is in the three-building complex at any given time, especially in the event of a fire or other emergency.
But that system was cumbersome, inaccurate and ineffective, says Captain Victoria Thomson, VBSO's former commanding officer of corrections, and currently the commanding officer of training and drug abuse resistance education. Evacuation orders are issued during monthly drills and actual emergencies, she explains, adding, "As a precaution, we issue an evacuation order when the fire alarm sounds."
In 2011, VSBO identified the requirements of an entrance-control system. During an evacuation, the facility needed to be able to track who had left the buildings, who had reported to one of the designated meeting (or muster) points and who most likely was still within the complex. The system also had to be Internet-based, so administrators could check visitors' status from anywhere within the facility or remotely. Other system requirements included the ability to issue ID tags to non-sworn staff members, as well as biometric verification for positively identifying individuals.
VSBO worked with TransitionWorks Software, a High Point, N.C., solutions provider, to build a customized RFID system that met all of these requirements. The Evacuation Control System was deployed in July 2012.
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