Dana Farber Cancer Institute:
World Renowned for Research, Patient Care…and Security
Located in the heart of Boston’s Longwood Medical and Academic Area, Dana Farber Cancer Institute is an internationally renowned clinical and research institute that supports more than 320,000 patient visits annually and is involved in some 700 clinical trials to provide state-of-the-art cancer care.
It is the only hospital in the U.S. that is ranked in the top four nationally by U.S. News and World Report in both adult and pediatric cancer care.
With such heavy emphasis on patient care and research, one can imagine the security infrastructure in place is as industry-renowned as the hospital itself. In fact, Dana Farber’s Director of Security and Emergency Management, Ralph Nerette, is often tapped to lead speaking engagements and panel discussions on security best practices at prominent events such as ASIS and ISCW.
Along with his security team, Nerette is at the center of all that goes on within Dana Farber’s sprawling facilities, ensuring continuous security operations that will not disrupt patient care or the critical research for which Dana Farber is celebrated. To Nerette, reliability and flawless interoperability are the most important factors in the solution equation.
It has been that way for as long as he can remember, and became the biggest reason he built the security infrastructure at Dana Farber around the security management platform from Software House. The Institute chose C·CURE 9000 more than a decade ago because of the system’s incredible versatility that allows them to add features as needed and integrate with a vast number of other systems in use at Dana Farber.
“It truly is the foundation of our security environment. I’ve been here 16 years and we have developed a strong partnership with the Software House team to ensure that the system continues to meet our needs as the solution evolves,” said Nerette.
Dana Farber is immersed in the local Boston sports culture and partners with many celebrities to raise money for the Jimmy Fund charity program. Here, Ralph Nerette poses in one of the many Dana Farber hallways inspired by local sports teams.
The Importance of Integrated Solutions for Life
Dana Farber’s research operation is massive. There are hundreds of Investigators working hard to find cures for terrible diseases. Some of the environments that researchers work in require very strict “clean room” rules which are enforced by a biometric security solution from StoneLock as part of a dual authentication process.
The system is designed to protect the invaluable equipment within the labs but, more importantly, ensure that only trained personnel can access the facility to eliminate risk of contamination.
Each day, clinicians simply present their badge and face the biometric device which quickly identifies them - StoneLock scans thousands of points on each person’s face in less than a second. They are then either granted or denied access based on their privileges and other criteria including whether the occupancy limits have been exceeded in the clean room, or if the clinician has passed through the necessary checkpoints for admittance.
“We previously had an iris-based biometric solution, but it would not scale in the way that was needed to support this facility,” said Nerette. “So, we re-evaluated our options and focused on a scalable, secure, and frictionless solution from StoneLock.”
The StoneLock Pro facial recognition system is designed for maximum scalability, with the enrollment and management of all templates occurring through a central application vs. at each individual device. Additionally, the solution does not store sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) – something that really appealed to the security team at Dana Farber.
“The no PII factor was a big deal for us,” said Nerette. “With so much emphasis on cybersecurity and identity theft, every single solution we look at must provide assurances to our employees and contractors that their personal information is safe."
The scalability that made the StoneLock system the solution of choice for Dana Farber was due in large part to its integration with the Software House system – a tightly linked operation developed by New Market Solutions that Nerette, a seasoned industry veteran, has rarely seen. “New Market Solutions is an integration partner with Software House, and we’ve had a long partnership with them,” said Nerette. “They have a deep understanding of the C·CURE access control system and how it should operate with every other system tied to it.”
New Market Solutions, a Boston-based software development and professional services company, is a long-standing member of Software House’s Connected Partner Program – a rigorous program that tests, qualifies, and audits solutions that are integrated with the C·CURE access control system. New Market Solutions’ principal engineer, William Kuhn, believes a holistic system approach is necessary to ensure data integrity throughout an enterprise.
“We have a data-centric philosophy and believe that the goal for any end user should be to manage credentials, personnel, and events of all integrated solutions through one central interface,” stated Kuhn. “Additionally, users should be able to easily retrieve critical journal information about the comprehensive solution from one place rather than sifting through multiple systems.”
This approach is seconded by Nerette, who is now assessing an improved integration being developed by NMS between the access control system and the proxSafe Key Management System from deister electronic. The key management system has very high usage – accessed daily by dozens of maintenance and housekeeping crews as well as electricians and other contractors needed to keep the research facilities running smoothly.
For Nerette, managing the location of those keys at any time is one more piece of the intricate security puzzle that keeps Dana Farber safely running at maximum efficiency.
“True interoperability is one of the main topics I discuss at speaking engagements,” Nerette said. “We have chosen best-in-class solutions - biometrics, access control, key management, video, etc. - and manage them all in one core system to provide optimal command and control. I believe we have designed the blueprint for integrated solutions here at Dana Farber.”