Below is an article written by Chuck Fieldman of the Chicago Tribune about the new security upgrades for entry into 9 Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills District 181 schools. Mr. Fieldman details Pentegra Systems’ integrated security solution, which District 181 refers to as “double buzzer systems.” Visitors to the schools will still walk into an unlocked door and into a vestibule where he or she will then have to be buzzed in by a school employee. However, an additional layer of security is being added where he or she will then have to be buzzed in from inside the office to then gain access into the school itself. This project will be completed over winter break and be up and running by the time the students return in January.

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Workers from Pentegra Systems work on installation of the new double-buzzer entry system at Oak School. (Chuck Fieldman/Pioneer Press)

 

Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 is adding a layer of security for entry into its nine school buildings.

“We’ve been calling it a double-buzzer system,” said Bridget McGuiggan, the district’s communications director and chairman of the district’s Safety & Crisis Committee.

Visitors to district school buildings now may enter an unlocked door into a vestibule, but must be buzzed into the office by a secretary or another school employee.

That protocol will remain. However, the new system also will require an office staff member to buzz visitors out of the office in order to get into other parts of the building.

“In some cases, parents may be coming to drop something off, a lunch or musical instrument, for example,” McGuiggan said. “In those cases, they can drop those items off in the vestibule and don’t need to enter the rest of the building.”

The committee considered requiring a staff member to buzz visitors from outside into the vestibules, McGuiggan said.

“We don’t want to make parents stand out in the elements, and I don’t know it would add substantially to the security when they already aren’t able to get into the office without being buzzed in,” she said. “Safety is the priority, and we are being proactive with that, but we want to be as welcoming as we can be, too.”

Representatives from the Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Burr Ridge police departments served on the committee.

Along with the additional hardware needed for the new buzzer system, main entrance cameras and intercoms are being replaced in all schools with equipment that provides a clearer view of visitors for staff.

The security work was started Monday, was to continue Tuesday and be completed over winter break.

“The idea was to have this work done while students are not in the buildings,” McGuiggan said. “Everything should be working when students return from winter break.”

Cost of the new security cameras, intercoms, ID card reader and buzzer system is $12,000 to $16,000 per school, said Mike Duggan, director of facilities. The system won’t be installed at Hinsdale Middle School, but will be included in the new HMS, which is under construction, Duggan said.

District 181 plans to implement an additional security measure some time in early 2018, similar to one being used at Hinsdale Central.

That system requires visitors to schools to provide identification, which will be scanned before they are allowed beyond the school office with a badge sticker printed by the system.

“This change will support consistency in district visitor procedures, ensure appropriate background checks have been completed, and allow us to maintain a digital log of our guests, all while integrating with our student information system,” superintendent Don White said.

McGuiggan said the Visitor Management System has a total cost of about $9,400 for all schools, which includes the ID scanner, badge printer, badge stickers and one-time setup costs, as well as an annual fee for software. There also is annual recurring cost of about $3,600, she said.

cfieldman@pioneerlocal.com

Twitter @chuckwriting

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For more information on how Pentegra Systems can help with all of your school’s security needs, head on over to www.pentegrasystems.com/security or give us a call at (630) 941-6000!

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Below is an article written by Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune about the restoration of Oak Park’s historic Unity Temple. Blair gives a great summary of the Unity Temple restoration project and a brief history of the temple itself. Pentegra Systems began an audiovisual, security and data network design build installation at the historic Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL last year. To find out more about the integrated solution Pentegra Systems installed at Unity Temple, head on over to our Unity Temple Success Story page.

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Frank Lloyd Wright was never one to fret about meeting deadlines, sticking to budgets or roofs that leaked. So there is something fitting about the delayed, but altogether triumphant, restoration of Wright’s Unity Temple, the Oak Park landmark that is the finest public building of Wright’s Chicago years and home to one of the most beautiful rooms in America.

Instead of finishing on schedule last fall, the $25 million project is wrapping up just in time for the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birthday, June 8. The building’s Unitarian Universalist congregation will return for services June 11. A formal ribbon-cutting and open house are scheduled for June 17. It’s as though Wright himself had willed the timing to demonstrate afresh his genius at the very moment when public attention will be riveted on his legacy.

For decades, scholars and critics have remarked upon the striking contrast between Unity Temple’s exterior and interior: The former, made of exposed concrete, is monumental, monochromatic and seemingly impenetrable. The latter, a skylit room with multiple seating tiers, is grand yet human-scaled, enlivened by a rich palette of earth-toned colors, and as airy as the concrete cube is heavy.

Yet the restoration breaks down this dichotomy, revealing a strong aesthetic connection between the radically severe exterior and the warm, intimate interior — a new unity, if you will, for Unity Temple. The key step involves the return of robust interior finishes that once wove a thread of nature-inspired continuity between inside and outside. Without them, we now know, Unity Temple was simply not whole.

The practically-minded will be delighted to know that the restoration also delivers creature comforts like air conditioning that will prevent the heavenly interior from turning hellishly hot come summer. The exterior is even said to be leak-free. We’ll have to see about that, given Wright’s infamous track record of leaky flat-roofed buildings that forced their occupants to haul out drip buckets for what they referred to as “one-bucket,” “two-bucket” and “three-bucket” rains.

Success, it’s often said, has many fathers, and so it is with here: A team of consultants led by Chicago’s Harboe Architects has lavished exacting care on every aspect of this project, from the restoration of jewel-like art glass to the recreation of textured plaster walls. This high level of quality was made possible by $10 million lead grant from Chicago’s Alphawood Foundation, $1.75 million from the congregation and the rest from private donors.

Yet there’s a catch, as there always seems to be with Wright, who frequently lived beyond his means: The nonprofit that spearheaded the project, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, still must raise roughly half the project’s budget. For now, a bridge loan covers those costs. The restoration itself offers the best advertisement for foundations and individuals to make up the balance.

From the first, financial constraints have shaped Unity Temple, which sits amid Oak Park’s thriving downtown at 875 Lake St. After the congregation’s Gothic Revival church burned in 1905, its leaders asked Wright, who was born into a Unitarian family in 1867, to design a new building on a prominent site along Lake Street’s noisy streetcar line. The budget, a mere $45,000, did not allow for expensive materials or elaborate ornament. So Wright, ever the innovator, fashioned his design from inexpensive poured-in-place concrete.

Victorians accustomed to embroidered surfaces must have been shocked by the monolithic abstraction of the completed 1908 building: A high-walled house of worship along Lake Street, joined by a foyer to a social hall and classroom building called Unity House. The passages to, and through, the sanctuary were equally radical. A circuitous route — the classic Wright trope known as the “path of discovery” — led from Lake Street to the entrance on a quiet side street. Inside, more turns took the worshipper from dark, tightly-confined ground-floor spaces that Wright labeled “cloisters” on upward and into the sanctuary’s spectacular explosion of space and light.

It was — and is — an extraordinary gathering place, in which space flows freely, liberated from the convention of the box. Yet there’s a profound sense of order and repose, as if one had come upon a light-dappled glade. The intimacy is palpable, courtesy of tiered balconies which ensure that no seat is more than 45 feet from the pulpit. Sunlight filters down from a grid of skylights, creating an effect that Wright compared to a “happy cloudless day.” Instead of turning its back on the minister to exit, congregation members pass through doors cut into walls on either side of the pulpit. In theory, at least, one enters as an individual and leaves as a member of a community

“Unity Temple is where you will find the first real expression of the idea that the space within the building is the reality of that building,” Wright remarked in 1952, seven years before his death.

But like many Wright buildings, Unity Temple challenged the patience and finances of its occupants. Even after a 1973 renovation covered the failing original exterior with a layer of “shotcrete,” a pneumatically-applied concrete, cracks and chipping persisted. Naturally, the building’s many roofs leaked. Seepage from the building’s internal drains, which were concealed in interior columns, weakened its concrete bones. When a large chunk of the ceiling fell in the middle of the night nine years ago, “it was a wake-up call about the instability of the building,” recalled the Rev. Alan Taylor, Unity Temple’s senior minister.

The restoration team has done meticulous work, beginning with the exterior, where portions of the 1973 shotcrete have been removed and replaced with new swaths of the material. Along with new roofs, restored art glass and enlarged internal drains, the new shotcrete is supposed to create that rarest of conditions in a Wright building — a structure that doesn’t leak like a sieve. “The system is good. It’s been tested,” said Gunny Harboe of Harboe Architects, who worked on the project with colleague Bob Score. (The building’s sagging eaves were fixed in 2002.)

Replacing the shotcrete also presented an aesthetic challenge. Unity Temple’s exterior is not a simple flat gray but a richly-textured aggregate of cement, sand and pebbles that range in color from white to brown to flint. Getting the right blend was like finding the elusive mix for a perfect cocktail. Contractors had to do some spots two or three times before the work was pronounced satisfactory.

The outcome largely avoids the pitfalls of a patchwork, although close inspection reveals slight variations in color. Yet time, weathering and the curing of the shotcrete should eventually blur those distinctions. And it will be no great sin if some of them remain. Unity Temple’s exterior has always had a certain mottled look. One of Wright’s prime tenets was to build “in the nature of materials,” which meant respecting their inherent properties. New in-ground night lighting will showcase the handsomely refurbished exterior and its decorative concrete columns.

The real revelations, though, are inside, where all interior surfaces have been returned to their 1908 appearance. That may not sound dramatic but it’s a major shift when you realize that multiple coats of paint, even modern latex paint, had been slathered onto the original walls. That rendered them flat and textureless, which was not what Wright intended.

Drawing on historic photographs and microscopic paint analysis, the architects and Philadelphia’s Building Conservation Associates re-created three types of textured plaster walls (rough, semi-rough and smooth) and Wright’s earth-toned color palette (pale yellow, green and brown). Contractors applied glazes over the plaster, giving them their color and a luminous sheen appropriate to a sacred space. The outcome is subtle but striking, especially within the sanctuary.

From the skylight to the ground floor, the freshly-remodeled interior walls have a new sense of texture and motion, restoring a lost layer of visual richness. Just as important, the interior now engages in a quiet but unmistakable dialogue with the building’s textured-concrete exterior. Inside and outside are opposites yet part of the same whole, a yin-yang relationship that makes tangible Wright’s elusive gospel of an “organic architecture.”

“No one’s seen it that way in a long time,” Harboe said.

To their credit, the team of designers has addressed a host of practical issues without aesthetic sacrifice.

Shallow trenches were dug in the concrete walls, then covered with plaster, to allow for the rewiring of electrical fixtures. LEDs were installed beneath the sanctuary’s skylights to give worshippers in the top seating tiers improved lighting as they read from prayer books. Mechanical systems were deftly inserted in the four hollow columns that support the building. Geothermal wells — nine of them, descending 500 feet beneath the front lawn — will provide the air conditioning the building has long lacked. New theater lights will improve Unity Temple’s ability to host performances.

A comparable assortment of formal and functional improvements are being made to Unity House, though they were not complete when I toured last week.

What a change has transpired since 2000, when the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (now Landmarks Illinois) placed the deteriorating Unity Temple on its annual list of the state’s most endangered structures! Today, Unity Temple is a landmark renewed, an enduring statement of Wright’s genius and a vivid reminder that his brilliance extended far beyond the Prairie Style houses for which he is best known. There can be no better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth than to see and experience this revived masterpiece.

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Please visit www.pentegrasystems.com for all of your audio and video needs or give us a call at (630) 941-6000 for more information.

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Notifying the Masses

The safety or your children is the greatest concern a parent can have. Parents need the reassuring feeling of knowing where their children are at all times and knowing they are safe. Parents are well aware they cannot keep an eye on their kids at all times, however. Children need to go to school. They need to get an education. Your children need to go somewhere for the majority of weekdays to learn. Do you, as a parent, trust your son or daughter’s safety at school? You should since all schools keep safety and security as an utmost priority every single day to ensure the well-being of not just students, but faculty alike.

In the event of an emergency, every school needs to be able to take action no matter the threat. Every person within and around the building needs to be notified of the emergency in addition to notifying the proper authorities outside the building to respond to the emergency as soon as possible. A mass notification system in schools is the most crucial aspect of safety and security of students and faculty. Mass notification notifies the masses in all areas surrounding the emergency.

 

There are several levels of notification that this system provides:

The most important area of notification is that of the immediate emergency. The area that is most directly affected needs to be notified immediately. Audio is the primary source of notification whether it be a siren alarm or a voice recording relaying instructions and to follow proper protocol. For the hearing impaired, strobe and LED lights are also used in addition to the alarms so they are visually noticeable to everyone around the area.

Those directly outside the facility are the next ones that need to be notified. At this point external speakers and public address systems are utilized to make crucial announcements and alerts regarding an emergency. These sirens or alerts will send out the proper warning for surrounding parties to take proper precautions.

Another element to an effective mass notification system is the ability to send out both text messages and e-mails to concerned parties both on and off campus. This useful tool not only helps alert people on the outside to stay away but could also be used to tell emergency contacts about the current situation.

In addition to mass notification to students and faculty, the proper help is also notified whether it is the police department, fire department, etc. Through the use of emergency call buttons integrated into the mass notification System, the response times are reduced dramatically.

One last piece of the life safety system in schools is the use of digital signage. Digital signage is becoming more and more prominent in schools around the world. These displays inform the students and faculty of important schools events, bulletins and news. However, in the case of an emergency these displays can be overridden to display messages notifying students and faculty of what is going on. For example, if there was a tornado warning in the area, the displays would let everyone know and to take the proper precautions to remain safe.

 

Through the use of new technology, schools have more ability than ever to keep their campuses as safe as possible. Fact is, when an emergency occurs everyone needs a helping hand no matter how serious or life threatening it can be. A mass notification system brings the power of connectivity to an entirely new level through the use of audio recordings, strobe lights, alarms, e-mails and text messages, mass notification spreads incredibly fast to warrant aid that much quicker.

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Protecting Your Assets with Physical Security

Whether you own a multi-unit residential building or a commercial facility, there is a tremendous value to utilizing physical security to monitor, record, control, access, and secure your facility. The use of physical security can reduce theft, increase productivity and protect a company from significant liability in the event of a workplace injury or accident. A smart business tactic is to conduct a physical security review on a regular basis, assess what you’ve got in place, what you need, and make a plan to get started implementing measures that will help keep you and your business safe. Let’s talk more about physical security and why it matters so much.

What is physical security?

Physical security is the safeguarding of workforce, hardware, programs, networks, and data from adverse physical situations and events as a means to prevent serious losses or damage to a business caused by accidents, natural calamities, burglary, theft, vandalism, and/or terrorism. Video surveillance, security alarms, access control systems and identification systems–all of these fall under the category of physical security solutions.

Why is physical security important for businesses?

While most businesses are focus on implementing safety measures that ward off technical and dramatic issues such as hacking, viruses, Trojans, and spyware, etc., physical security is an oft overlooked and even often underestimated factor, the full implications of which are learned only after some damage has been done. What businesses mostly forget is that gaps in physical security can be easily targeted by attackers who have little or no tech smarts as opposed to virtual threats that require a certain degree of technical knowledge. Since accidents and natural disasters are all too common occurrences of daily life, your business may run into these even before you know it.

To avert these situations, you need to have a proper plan of defense in place and adopt physical security measures that ensure that your business is safe and secure. Here are some things to consider:

Components of physical security

Physical security generally includes the following three main components:

  1. Hurdles that might be placed as the first line of defense to discourage attackers or as a barrier against accidents and environmental disasters. These types of security measures include fencing, fireproof safes, multiple locks, etc.
  2. Monitoring of spaces and installing notification systems, including things like light and heat sensors, smoke detectors, wireless detectors, alarms, cameras, access control and CCTVs.
  3. Measures that can disarm the attackers before any damage is done and also recovery methods that help businesses to recover from accidents, fires, or natural disasters more effectively.

Choosing the right physical security for protecting your assets

While selecting the right physical security method for your business, you must pick one that has features like interoperability with your existing systems, cost-effectiveness and whether or not they are endowed with proper network and video expertise.

Look for features that include:

  • Easy deployment, use and maintenance
    • Good network integration
    • Ability to secure existing assets as you migrate
    • Support open standards

Moreover, the provision of using the network as a platform for integrating security measures is a great consideration, since it offers an open and scalable way to rev up the security methods for your business. With benefits like operational flexibility, enhanced protection features, reduced cost of ownership, and lower risk, physical security is an indispensible part of business operations.

Have you deployed the right physical security measures within your business operations? What do you think has been the most valuable to you and your company to date?

Resources:
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/physical-security

 

 

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Chicago Teachers Union

Chicago Teachers Union

Read The Success Story

The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 30,000 teachers and personnel of the Chicago Public Schools system and has been doing so for more than 75 years. In 2014, CTU announced that it would be moving their offices from the Merchandise Mart to a newly renovated three-story, 70,000 square foot ...

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