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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Juvenile Facility Improves Security Measures Using InduSoft Web Studio to Run Multiple Systems


Eaton County Juvenile Detention Facility


  • Legacy software system was no longer supported, and had to be replaced


  • InduSoft Web Studio software automates room monitoring functions and controls access to the building


  • Local InduSoft rep, HMI/SCADA Systems, handled the entire job


  • Installation and configuration took one day





InduSoft Web Studio monitors detainee rooms, runs access control system, and generates reports that identify troubles in the facility.



When Eaton County, Michigan expanded its juvenile treatment and detention facility, it elected InduSoft Web Studio to improve its security measures by replacing an aging computer system that relied too much on manual procedures.

The 24-bed facility houses youth with behavioral challenges.  Security personnel wanted to improve their ability to monitor detainees’ rooms and other areas of the facility for abnormal sounds, movements or activities, as well as control electrical circuits, door latches and television sets.

On top of providing treatment for low-risk youth, “the facility retains the most severe and resistant juvenile delinquents with the goal of preventing their transfer to state custody,” said Karen Gonser, director of the Eaton County Youth Facility.  “Our residents range from violent offenders to youth having severe problems in their home, school and community.”

“Our main concern in monitoring the rooms is to ensure that we are able to respond quickly to the needs of our detainees,” added Gonser. “Maintaining a safe and secure environment is crucial to treatment and rehabilitation.”


In addition to monitoring rooms, the computer system also controlled electrical circuits, door latches and television sets. Eaton County’s setback was the limited automation in its current system. The system was too reliant on manual procedures, especially in tracking detainee activity and access in and out of the facility.


The software driving the system had essentially outlived its usefulness. Only one staff person knew how to program the system. Furthermore, the system could not produce the kinds of reports needed to identify problems in the juvenile facility.


Change was needed.  Eaton County decided to upgrade the existing control system to more modern hardware and software.

Listening for Problems

Gonser said the facility needed an automated scanning system that listens for problem sounds via an intercom in each room.  The old system listened, but it couldn’t “scan” the rooms; that is, it could not listen for problems in one room, automatically move on to the next room, and—in a short time—allow the operator to listen to every occupied room in the facility.

The new system also needed to control access to the building, said Gonser.  If someone wants to enter, we wanted an electronic call button to alert the operator who would unlock the door from the HMI terminal.  The system also needed to monitor the position of doors to hearing rooms and administration offices, and report if the doors are locked or unlocked.

When considering a new system, Gonser wanted it to generate activity reports that the old manual system could not produce.  “I wanted to see a report that tells me which doors had been opened at what time, which detainees presented problems, and the response of the staff,” she said.


The InduSoft Web Studio Solution

Gonser consulted with Ken Jones, principle and chief consultant at HMI/SCADA Systems Corporation, headquartered in Whitmore Lake, Michigan.  “We called in Ken because he was our existing software rep, and we knew he had plenty of experience in the automation industry,” said Gonser.  “We outlined what we wanted and Ken proposed a solution based on new HMI terminals and InduSoft Web Studio software.”
Jones and his engineers brought over two decades of software and automation experience to this application.  InduSoft Web Studio was chosen because of its ability to meet all of the facilities’ needs and then some.  The capability to connect to the existing Opto22 control system allowed enhancements without the additional cost of completely replacing the control architecture.

”We were able to interface to the existing Opto 22 I/O easily via RS-485, using drivers built into InduSoft Web Studio,” explains Jones. “Configuring the system in InduSoft Web Studio to do what Eaton County Youth Services needed, creating the operator displays, and producing reports was fairly simple because of the capabilities of InduSoft Web Studio.”


“The control system application development took about a week. The installation and configuration took a day”, says Jones.

The new system is based on an IVC Displays industrial computer with a 19-inch color touch screen, Windows XP, and InduSoft Web Studio software. The new system was installed next to the existing system, and ran in parallel during configuration and setup.
The main operator screen shows an overall view of the facility.  Icons illustrate the status of each intercom, door latch control and call buttons.  As the system automatically listens to each room, the intercom will change from blue (off) to yellow (audio monitoring).  If the icon turns red, it means the intercom call button was pressed and not yet answered.
While operators do not monitor vacant rooms, a scan settings screen allows the operator to select the rooms to scan automatically.  The system scans each room in sequence according to the profile; listens for five seconds, and then moves on to the next room.  Upon completion of a profile, the scan begins again.  This allows the operator to listen to 12 rooms per minute and scan the entire facility in just three minutes.  If the operator detects a problem, the pause button stops the scan and remains listening to the intercom microphone until the operator presses the resume button.

An override feature allows the operator to turn off all intercoms that are on and answer an intercom call button.  Otherwise, the rooms being monitored would hear the operator’s voice.  For example, the operator may be listening to the intercom in a classroom and in detainee rooms 9 and 10 when a call button is pressed in room 8.  The operator presses the override button and responds to the call.  When the call is complete, the operator presses the override button again and resumes listening in multiple rooms.

Under the old system, if an intercom call button was pressed, control staff could not tell from which room it came, forcing them to ask all residents if they buzzed.  When an intercom call button is pressed under the new system, the operator will see the icon turn red indicating the room.

While the system monitors the status of all doors inside the facility, doors leading outside or to the balcony are of particular concern.  If anyone presses a call button on an outside door, the system flashes a warning to the operator that the door leads outside.  Similarly, if any outside door is opened, a warning will appear on the screen. “While we are interested in monitoring movement inside the facility, we want the operator to be notified immediately if anyone tries to leave the building,” says Gonser.
The system also allows the operator to monitor and control lights and televisions in the facility.  Touching the light and TV icons on the screen toggles the devices from on to off or off to on.

Karen Gonser says, “The system is operating as we envisioned.  It has been great to have Ken involved; he has been very responsive to our needs, without any delay. He has been able to meet our every expectation and helps us to update the system based on new needs".

The expansion of the juvenile treatment and detention facility, located in Charlotte, Michigan not only included additional beds but also a day treatment program, commercial kitchen and laundry, secure hearing room, attorney meeting rooms and additional office space.

InduSoft Web Studio has aided in keeping the day program population separate from the residents in the secure units by providing real-time monitoring and controls to individual units, thus allowing faculty to redirect their efforts toward more personalized attention to residential programs.  Morale at Eaton County has risen since the new expansion.

Operator screens are not included in this case study because this sensitive information may jeopardize the security of Eaton County Youth Services.

Control Room







Workers can monitor the status of doors, control access to the building, and listen to rooms from the control station.





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info@indusoft.com or 877-INDUSOFT (877-463-8763) or 512-349-0334.

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