Cincinnati Zoo Security Solution

Cincinatti Zoo & Botanical Garden sign, graphic and Reptile House cupola
A Public Attraction Security Case Study
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We worked with the Cincinatti Zoo to create a single platform that protects their dedication to creating adventure, conveying knowledge, conserving nature, and serving the community.

Situation: Multiple Unintegrated Aging Systems

The Zoological Society of Cincinnati was founded in 1873 and officially opened its doors in 1875, making the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden the second oldest zoo in the United States. The zoo was founded on 65 acres in the middle of the city, and since then has acquired some of the surrounding blocks and several reserves in Cincinnati’s suburbs. Today, the zoo is comprised of 28 separate and distinct facilities.

The zoo was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987 due to its significant architecture featured in the Elephant House, the Reptile House, and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial. The zoo’s Reptile House is the oldest existing zoo building in the country, dating back to 1875.

More than 1.5 million people visit the zoo annually. The zoo features more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species, making it one of the largest zoo collections in the country.

One of its top priorities is to provide a safe and secure environment for its many visitors, employees, and unique animals and plants.

Providing security for the zoo can present challenges not commonly found in most installations. When taking into account the size of the property, the number and unique features of some of the buildings, millions of visitors a year and the precious animals and plant species found on the property, the job can seem daunting to many solution providers. Further complexities arise from the strict OSHA standards the zoo operates under due to potentially dangerous animals and poisonous snakes.

The zoo’s old security and life safety systems consisted of a disparate number of solutions that could not be integrated into a seamless approach. The intrusion detection, fire alarm panels and access control technology were manufactured by a number of different vendors, often on a propriety basis, thus making it impossible to operate with a common user interface. This presented a number of challenges, including higher costs associated with training and the hours required to administer the systems. The administrative challenges were related to addressing and resolving alarms, PIN code management and compiling investigative reports when an event occurred. The zoo needed a better approach.

Our Solution: A Common Platform with Integrated Access Control

When the zoo was first approached by Protection 1, it was not actively looking to change its solution provider even though its current systems were not as efficient or effective as they needed to be. The zoo felt that the service it was receiving was in a state of decline.

Protection 1 started the process with a number of meetings and presentations to educate the zoo on its capabilities and technology platforms. Protection 1’s proposal included converting all existing systems to a common platform from a single manufacturer. The manufacturer, Honeywell, could supply the intrusion detection panels that were rated to handle the fire alarm signals. It also offered an access control solution that could be integrated into the other technologies so that the user could obtain data from all systems from one place.

Protection 1’s proposal, coupled with its commitment to outstanding customer service, convinced the zoo that it was time to make the much needed change. From the outset of the project, Protection 1 assigned a dedicated, seasoned technician to the zoo’s program. This technician resided on-site and was responsible for all aspects of the conversion.

As mentioned previously, some of the buildings are well over 100 years old. The age of the buildings and the construction methods used a century ago required creative thinking and a high level of skill to overcome challenges with things like wiring, wall thickness and a number of other considerations. Depending on their function, some buildings also required duress buttons wired into the systems in case of emergency situations when help would need to be summoned immediately.

The zoo also opted to institute eSuite℠, Protection 1’s online secure customer web portal. eSuite provides alarm data management, analytics and reporting packages and the ability to add or remove users, generate new codes and change access levels to the various buildings. Because each of the zoo’s buildings is managed by the “handler” of the breed of animals residing there, it was important to provide a tool that each individual could access for administrator rights specifically for his or her location and protocol.

Bottom Line Result: Safety for People, Plants and Animals

The zoo’s new integrated security and life safety systems now operate on a uniform platform that are all up to current codes. All technologies are integrated into a common user interface making them easier to use, saving valuable time and money. But perhaps the biggest benefit the zoo is deriving from the converted systems is the peace of mind enjoyed by the millions of visitors that come to the zoo each year and its employees. The new systems help to ensure the rare, unique animals and plants on the property are safe and secure and will remain that way for years to come.

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