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Astronomy Upgrade

The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, home to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), has had a security upgrade.

In addition to being an establishment of a UK Research Council, the site houses the Edinburgh University astronomy research group and a Visitor Centre running science ‘outreach’ programmes. Add the scientific value of the work, and security and access control are essential.

What they say

Ron Lambert, Head of Premises says: "We have been working with Chubb on and off for the last 20 years. Recently a security upgrade programme was commenced and after a successful bid Chubb Electronic Security was the preferred supplier to drive this forward."

The Royal Observatory chose the Monitor AFx system, what Chubb describes as an Integrated Security Management (ISM) technology which integrates and manages each element of the electronic security installation. Data is combined from independent devices such as intruder motion detectors and access control readers onto one software application, with one database, using the customer’s IT network as host.

Ron adds: "At the Royal Observatory we use Chubb’s most sophisticated networked system which is ideally suited to cater for our more complex requirements. There are two control panels, each door for example is separately coded and there are many different levels of access. Visitors, contractors and staff alike are all given a proximity card on entry which allows controlled access to selected parts of the site. With up to 200 people on the premises at any time, this is crucial in enabling us to control admittance and keep a check on who is where. All information can be merged with other measurement information so that I get an accurate and detailed picture of all activity across the site."

Vandalism rather than theft is the main concern at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. The site is in a remote location, at the top of Blackford Hill. Some of the astronomical instruments and equipment take many years to build and develop and can cost from £100,000 to millions. It is not the monetary value however that is at stake but rather the potential loss of intellectual property and years of research and development if a laboratory or its equipment were to be broken into or vandalised. Even casual damage could set the programme back.

The Chubb AFx system covers all areas of the site, particularly the perimeter, but there is still scope for it to be extended. Intruder and access control has been the main focus so far but in 2006 the Royal Observatory is keen to integrate its CCTV system into the AFx network too.

John Bennett, Product Manager for Integrated Security Systems at Chubb Electronic Security says: "We are delighted to have introduced the new Chubb AFx system at the Royal Observatory where it is ideally suited to their complex site requirements. The networked system vastly simplifies the way in which security and access are monitored and we hope to continue expanding and updating the system and introducing new aspects to it."


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