12 Jul 2024

System for high-security installation

Data Centre Security with the EMKA Agent E wireless system and iris scan

EMKA UK MD Andrew Clutterbuck reports that its Agent E Wireless locking system has been developed for high-security installations around the world, and has especially demonstrated its flexibility in a converted civil defence bunker application at the Stollen Lucerne Data Centre, in combination with an iris scanner incorporated at the customer’s request.

Clutterbuck raised the question “What added value can an aging bunker complex still offer in this day and age?” This was also the question energie wasser luzern (ewl) asked itself – talking about the old civil defence bunker in the Wartegg hill near Lucerne. The response was to build one of the most sophisticated data centres in Switzerland. Today, the Stollen Lucerne Data Centre boasts five major tunnels, each allocated 200 square metres for IT system hardware. In addition, there are eight auxiliary tunnels, referred to as Private Rooms, these are allotted 50 to 100 square metres per room for IT system hardware. The CO2-neutral facility, operated by ewl Rechenzentrum , combines state-of-the-art technology with sustainability and an optimal connection to the communication and energy networks.

To keep data stored on-site from unauthorised digital access, firewalls and complex encryption solutions are used by data centres but of course the same degree of security should also be applied to physical access. The Stollen Luzern Data Centre already offers a high-security level simply because of its underground location but additionally, the operators required the ability to monitor the activity of each individual at any given time in the various sections of the data centre. As the facility contains servers from several companies, individual racks must be secured independently, a requirement which led the team at ewl Rechenzentrum  to seek suitable solutions from the early planning stages of the project – alongside stable server racks, they also emphasised the need for a dependable locking solution.

ewl Rechenzentrum  developed a detailed plan for the sophisticated locking system it wanted to install in the bunker. Critically, the biometric access control had to be secure and the wireless communication with the rack and database had to be seamless, with a quick and simple setup. While searching for a suitable supplier, ewl Rechenzentrum  contacted EMKA at an early stage. Its “Agent E Wireless” system fitted the criteria exactly with its wireless locking system enhanced by an iris scanner upgrade. By leveraging a combination of electromechanical handle, software and wireless technology, the security system allows individualised access to all cabinets and perpetually supervises the opening and closing processes. In addition, the handles can be easily and quickly adapted to cabinets from different manufacturers. This system had already been tested and proved successful in similar projects in Switzerland. ewl Rechenzentrum  attached particular importance to a biometric system that regulates access to the server cabinets. Typically, EMKA provides authentication with an RFID card and Agent E. In this instance, there was a unique requirement that called for an iris scanner that can open the server cabinets remotely. Since the eye profile cannot be mistaken, this authentication method was understood to offer maximum security.

The Swiss company Touchless Biometric Systems AG (TBS) provided just the right system for this project. To manage access, all authorised individuals and personnel in the computer centre save a scan of their iris in the database, this individual pattern of iris is then encrypted and safeguarded from misuse. To open the desired server cabinet, the personnel or customers at the data centre must use the iris scanner to identify themselves. The scanner sends the data to the database and evaluates the information against the pre-existing patterns and authorisation profile. All authorised rack doors are now shown and can be selected on a display. The selected handles are transmitted to the control unit of the EMKA system and from there the activation is triggered wirelessly. Simultaneously, ewl Rechenzentrum  receives up-to-date information regarding the server rack doors. Through personalised access control down to the cabinet level, Agent E thus enables clear logging and tracing. The entire system thereby consists not only of an iris scanner and electromechanical handles, but also includes database-based control software and powerful modules.

Company info: EMKA (UK) Limited