Global Surveillance, Remotely Unified

Panduit monitors its headquarters, factories and warehouses worldwide from a single Unified Operations Center with the help of analytics

When your business is founded on transforming infrastructure silos into holistic solutions, it makes sense to practice what you preach. So when Panduit built its new world headquarters just outside of Chicago in 2010, it approached the project as an opportunity to showcase its own unified physical infrastructure approach to converging core business systems -- including security, power and communications. As part of this effort, Panduit installed a global video surveillance system that could be managed remotely from its world headquarters.

The unified system includes an array of network cameras to safeguard the perimeters of its new headquarters and six domestic manufacturing and warehousing sites, as well as manufacturing plants in Costa Rica, Romania and Mexico.

Recommending the Network
IPVision, a national integrator of intelligent physical security solutions, recommended Axis network cameras because they could easily converge with Panduit’s existing network-based security, safety and environmental control systems. The PTZ network cameras use intelligent video analytics to provide perimeter security for Panduit facilities worldwide and serve as a unique lobby exhibit in the company’s new headquarters.

Rather than maintaining separate security and network operations centers, the cabling and infrastructure manufacturer joined the two groups together in a single unified operations center.

“We put both groups in a single room since all these systems operate on the same network and it makes it easier for everyone to share information,” said Jeffrey Woodward, Panduit’s senior manager of global environment, health, safety and security.

From the unified operations center, corporate staff can monitor camera feeds from all the facilities around the world. Though video is archived locally at each building, Panduit security staff view event-based video streamed to world headquarters and control the Axis PTZ network cameras remotely to investigate whether situations require intervention. By leveraging event-based analytics in the central monitoring station, Panduit can maximize the time of its security team.

“Being able to globally monitor, control and manage those cameras from a central point limits the amount of resources you need to have on site to respond to an alarm,” Woodward said. “Instead of automatically dispatching security staff to physically investigate every alarm, we use the video cameras as the first-level response. Once we check out the situation remotely, we can determine if it’s really necessary to send someone to the location of the triggering event.”

On High Alert
For example, the cameras integrate with access control so that if an employee triggers an alarm by holding a door open too long, security can observe the scene remotely until it’s resolved instead of putting local staff on high alert. Woodward estimates a 16-month ROI on the surveillance equipment just from that labor savings alone.

Before Panduit built its new headquarters last year, each facility in the company operated its own independent analog surveillance system.

“To update our security system to match our Unified Physical Infrastructure strategy, we needed to deploy the appropriate network technology,” Woodward said.

Because Axis cameras are IP-based, Panduit can leverage its own strong wide area network to globally monitor, control and manage those cameras from one central point.

“While the safety and security of our employees is certainly foremost, having our surveillance technology network- based meant we could converge surveillance with our other systems, like access control, and gather more intelligent data to better secure our properties,” Woodward said.

Specifically, the network cameras are deployed on building exteriors, overlooking expansive parking lots. With video analytics, they create a specialized virtual trip line around property perimeters.

“If an object of a certain size breaks that perimeter, the Axis PTZ cameras are strategically placed to alert security staff, send the video stream to headquarters to be investigated in real-time, and also automatically track that object,” said Ben Green of IPVision.

Once the video stream is sent to headquarters, security staff can remotely zoom, pan and tilt the cameras to closely observe the scene.

“Adding intelligence to the video allows us to selectively push video to the Unified Operations Center, which limits how much video we need to aggregate on a regular basis,” Woodward said.

Woodward credits the intelligence for improving the effectiveness of his security staff.

“In the old days, we’d just be endlessly staring at video monitors just waiting for something to happen,” he said. “Now we can receive actionable video -- feeds that are based on alarm events like security breaches triggered from crossing a virtual trip line.”

Network Camera Protection
Even though many network cameras are designed for exterior use, IPVision turned to Dotworkz Dome enclosures to ensure optimum performance under conditions ranging from harsh Chicago winters to Costa Rica’s tropical humidity.

A variety of models with built-in heaters and blowers operate in temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees F to 150 degrees F.

The enclosures also step down the voltage of the air conditioning power coming into the enclosure to the 25 to 30 watts required by the Axis PTZ cameras.

“Panduit runs fiber to the edge of the buildings to avoid electromagnetic interference and protect against lightning strikes,” Green said. “The Dotworkz enclosures allow us to install a media converter between the fiber cable and the Ethernet cable we use to power the cameras.”

Tying Into Other Security Systems
IPVision also tied the PTZ cameras into Panduit’s access control system to help the company monitor other security breaches, such as doors held open longer than usual.

“If an employee is just casually standing in a doorway and exceeds the time we’ve programmed for a door contact to remain open, it’s not a real security threat,” Woodward said. “That’s the advantage of having cameras there. Once they’ve closed the door, the investigation is over. We can remotely investigate and document the reason for the alarm without sending someone out to physically investigate the situation.”

Panduit also uses PTZ cameras to remotely monitor public areas of the customer experience exhibit in its lobby.

The self-guided tour showcases an audio visual display of the company’s solutions and capabilities, as well as a behind-the-glass view of Panduit’s data and operations centers.

“We want to maintain an open and welcoming atmosphere on our first floor, but we also want to make sure people are staying within our security policies,” Woodward said. “The network cameras complement our strong security policies and help us stay proactive in safeguarding our employees and property."

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Security Today.

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