Newport Aquarium Replaces Traditional Locks and Keys

Newport Aquarium has replaced its old security system with an easy-to-use, high-security access control solution to keep animals, visitors and staff safe. The Aquarium is located in Newport, Kentucky, USA, and houses thousands of the world’s most exotic aquatic creatures, such as playful penguins, rare white alligators and smiling sharks and stingrays.

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

Sec-Tron, an experienced access control integrator, recommended Paxton’s flagship access control system Net2 to provide a simple and scalable security solution. This is an advanced PC-based access control system that offers centralised administration. It is also designed to easily integrate with other access control systems, so site managers have more streamlined security of their building.

With over 35 years' security industry experience, Sec-Tron specialises in providing custom access control solutions to commercial and industrial sites. Tom Riegler, Sales and Project Manager at Sec-Tron, said: “The whole aquarium is surrounded by pipes and tanks, some full of chemicals. They really needed access control in each area that contains dangerous infrastructure to prohibit visitors from accessing those sensitive areas and ensure only suitably experienced employees could gain access.”

Old and New

David Fortunato, Senior Regional IT Manager at Newport Aquarium, said: “Most of our doors used locks and keys, and some had swipe card readers. We have a lot of doors at the aquarium 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.”

When sourcing a security system, Newport Aquarium needed durable hardware because of its unique environment. Fortunato explained: “Even though the products are installed and secured in cases and locked rooms, being an aquarium, we have high 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 into the new system. Riegler said: “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 retro-fit 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.”

Riegler and his team at Sec-Tron installed Net2 at the aquarium. The software can manage up to 1,000 doors and 50,000 users and requires no licence fees, making it a cost-effective and scalable security solution. Newport Aquarium now uses 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.

Fortunato said: “With our old lock-and-key doors, it was hard to keep track of keys. One of the biggest benefits that Net2 has brought is 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 of Net2 to tailor access hours and levels of each door. When it is 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.”

Extension in Progress

Fortunato manages the security systems for three theme parks run by the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation; the other two are Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay and Adventure Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium is their first Net2 installation, and they have plans to expand it to their other sites.

Fortunato said: “We are doing the installation in phases. We started with 15 doors at Newport Aquarium and now it is fitted across 53 doors. We plan to put Net2 on every possible door as it is just much more convenient and safer than keys, and everything is documented.

"We have also started putting Net2 in Kentucky Kingdom, which is currently at phase 1 with around 20 doors. At our other Adventure Aquarium in Philadelphia, the existing security system doesn’t offer great access convenience while maintaining the security level that we require, so we have a plan to install Net2 there as well.”

Business Partner

Paxton Access Ltd.

Paxton House, Home Farm Road,
Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 9HU

Business Partner contact

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