Managing Ever Changing Security Needs
Suite of solutions has cancer institute on cutting edge of security
- By Shahar Ze’evi
- Nov 01, 2012
The urban campus of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is
representative of many modern metropolitan healthcare institutions
today, with a main campus in a busy city center that takes advantage
of every available square inch. New buildings replace existing
structures, existing facilities are reconfigured, and as the institutions
continue to grow, their footprints expand into surrounding suburbs in an effort to
serve the growing patient and research needs.
Internationally renowned for its unique blend of clinical and research operations
to provide state of the art cancer care—the institute supports more than
300,000 patient visits annually and is involved in some 700 clinical trials—the only
constant for Dana-Farber is change.
When the institute undertook its most significant expansion project to date, the
design and construction of its new 14-story Yawkey Center for Patient Care, the
project included demolition of two existing buildings and a street-level parking lot
at its Boston headquarters. Dramatically expanding the institute’s clinical care space,
the Yawkey Center features more than 100 exam rooms, 150 infusion spaces and 20
During the three-year construction, security and facilities management staff
had to evaluate the impact of the new facility on the current and multi-location
infrastructure. Not only did the Yawkey Center add an additional 275,000 square
feet of clinical and support space to the institute’s overall footprint, but security
plans for the center included the addition of nearly 200 IP cameras that had to be
seamlessly and efficiently married with Dana-Farber’s significant investment in its
current CCTV surveillance equipment.
With 23 existing Intellex DVRs from American Dynamics and nearly 300 analog
cameras already deployed throughout the facilities, the Dana-Farber security
staff was searching for a solution that would allow dispatchers in the security command
center to have a single interface through which they could view live and
recorded feeds from both analog and IP cameras.
“Running two separate systems for analog and IP video was just not an option
for us to deploy into our security monitoring operations,” said Ralph Nerette, the
institute’s security manager. “The solution we chose had to be seamless for our
dispatchers to be trained on and successfully use, regardless of whether video is
coming from the DVR or NVR environment.”
A Strategy for Growth
Complicating this search were some additional responsibilities that Nerette’s security
staff was about to assume. As part of an overall renovation and upgrade
project, central dispatch functions for facilities maintenance, housekeeping and environmental
health and safety were about to become part of security operations.
The Facilities Security Operation Center (FSOC) would manage Dana-Farber’s two
million square feet of clinical, research and administrative space and a call volume
that sometimes exceeded 1,000 calls per day, requiring significantly more infrastructure
than the then-current 120-square-foot security command center could handle.
“We needed much more functional space and the ability to segment equipment,
reduce noise and allow our dispatchers to focus on customers and provide the level
of service required of a security operation of this size,” Nerette said.
With such a large, functioning network of Intellex DVRs, Nerette and his staff
worked with systems integrators Tesla Systems of Georgetown, Mass., and Team
AVS of Westford, Mass., to find a VMS solution that would allow the DVRs to be
used in tandem with the new IP-based cameras and NVRs. They also would need
to function as a platform for the future as the institute eventually migrates to a
fully IP-based solution.
Using the new victor unified video client and VideoEdge NVR from American
Dynamics, all IP and Intellex DVRs’ analog video streams from Dana-Farber’s 500
cameras are seamlessly integrated into victor’s single system and user interface. Instead
of toggling between different applications on their monitors, dispatchers can
be concerned with only the content of the video and fulfilling their regular duties of
ensuring the safety and security of the hospital facilities and not what recording technology the video is being generated from.
“This approach allowed the institute
to extend the life of our existing Intellexes,”
Nerette said. “Rather than rip
and replace, we were able to focus our
new investments on state-of-the-art IP
technology as part of the Yawkey expansion.
This let us strategically add
IP cameras in additional key areas and
The 200 new IP cameras from the
Yawkey Center and a handful of other
camera clusters, such as a small, 22-IPcamera
deployment in one of the more
sensitive research areas, are recorded on
four VideoEdge NVRs from American
Dynamics, with two NVRs for fail-over
to ensure no interruptions in operation.
On average, Dana-Farber will be storing
30 days of video per camera on the institute’s
70 TB of external iSCSI storage.
With dispatchers checking some 60
camera views at any given time, those
unified operations are crucial to the
workflow of the command center, according
to Robert O’Rourke, an account
executive at Tesla Systems.
“One of the unique challenges of
this project was to integrate the analog
and IP video technologies to make
them function seamlessly together,”
O’Rourke said. “The command center
has two 42-inch monitors and 14 other
20-inch screens, with video coming in
from five remote locations, so there was
a lot of complexity.”
Another requirement of the system
was the ability to easily share video with
other users within Dana-Farber while
safeguarding unauthorized views and
exports of the footage.
With victor’s embedded policy management
functions, Nerette is able to
grant secure access to other users of the
CCTV system—outside the security
and facilities maintenance divisions—
to view video from specific live feeds or
recorded video from other areas of the
facility from designated cameras only.
These groups also cannot export any
video as part of the victor policy management
Security staff in the institute’s
command center will soon have even
one less standalone system to monitor.
With an upgrade to Software
House’s C•CURE 9000 security monitoring
platform planned for sometime
next year, Dana-Farber will be able
to use victor’s upcoming 2012 release
as a single unified event and security
management platform to integrate the
card access functions, as well as fire
and other building management functions,
according to Team AVS President
Undertaking the deployment of a
new command center has accomplished
two major goals. Not only has it provided
the institute with a custom-designed
clinical facility to further its mission of
excellence in cancer care and research,
but it also has furnished an infrastructure
on which to base security and facilities
operations for the future.
This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Security Today.