Hip Hip Philadelphia
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jul 01, 2012
For the past few years, prior to ASIS, members
of the media have assembled by invitation in
the city where the convention would be held.
This year, Philadelphia was home to a few editors for
ASIS officials set up security tours and visits
throughout the city that are beyond your wildest
imagination. Most of the time, the city’s visitors and
convention bureau staff participate, as well as the local
ASIS chapter. Philadelphia is a very cool place.
If you haven’t made plans to attend ASIS 2012
in Philly, I urge you not only to participate in the
conference and exhibits but also to take in the sights,
sounds and smells in this marvelous metropolis.
“We are thrilled to welcome the ASIS convention to
Philadelphia in September,” said Jack Ferguson, president
and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and
Visitors Bureau. “This convention is proof why the
Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion was vital
to Philadelphia’s economic development because without
the expanded center, ASIS couldn’t meet here.”
Ferguson also said that ASIS alone will have a $50
million impact to the city during the week-long event.
The bureau expects about 25,000 visitors and conference
attendees, requiring 35,000 hotel rooms. That
also includes a lot of Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
The City Center District (CCD), where the convention
center stands, was designated a special district
in 1991 to spur growth in the area, and the convention
center recently completed a renovation of the facility
to now include 528,000 square feet of space. It is a
The district is serious about security and has employed
community service representatives who work
alongside the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD),
including shift roll calls. Together, they are making the
downtown area cleaner and safer for what is becoming
a burgeoning residential base. CCD has changed
the physical footprint by adding sidewalks, landscaping
and additional lighting.
You will see all of this and more during ASIS 2012.
Our tour and travels took our group to the Constitution
Center, which is very near the convention
center and well worth two hours of your time. It just
happens to be the 225th anniversary of the Constitution,
of which members of Congress and the White
House should take note.
The center is frequently used for gatherings and
dignitary visits. Security is handled by Sherman Hopkins,
who always works hand-in-hand with such agencies
as PPD, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, private security
and many more agency security teams.
“Our mission is to protect visitors and employees
who might rent the facility for an event,” Hopkins said.
The facility is part of the National Park Service
and has more than 100 cameras monitoring the facility
and grounds at the command center.
Our tour continued to the Comcast Center. Both
Comcast and the property owner, Liberty Property
Trust, have onsite security directors, and both command
centers are linked by a “Red Phone.” The
58-story office tower is part of the city skyline and
was the first skyscraper to be built after 9/11.
Following the events of 9/11, building architects
and engineers reworked their plans to make the building
safer and more secure for workers. The building is
built around a center core into which, if necessary, all
workers in the building, about 4,000, could be shepherded
for safety and security. The core is built with
three-and-a-half foot thick concrete walls and is fireproofed.
Engineers also ensured that the building has
redundant power, fire alarms and communications.
Because the building is used 24/7, eight annual drills
are planned where people in the building experience a
“what to do” in case of emergency.
Four other tours took us to the Philadelphia Children’s
Hospital, the Wells Fargo Center, the U.S. Postal
Facility and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.
With more than 12,000 employees, the hospital
sees more than 1.19 million outpatients per year, and
it has installed IP video technology to ensure safety
and security of staff, patients and visitors. The facility
has 74 security officers on staff in a very open environment,
along with 1,600 card readers in place and
more than 630 cameras. Cameras are not near medical
procedures, respecting the patient’s privacy.
At the Wells Fargo Center, cameras are in place to
help control outbound traffic after an event; inside the
venue, there are 128 suites that have card access.
At the Federal Reserve Bank, security is ever present.
Even though I was standing behind a Plexiglas
partition, I’m still amazed that I was that close to $2
million. One of the takeaways I learned from security
staff there was in a single comment, “bank robbers
are generally not very smart people.”
The Philadelphia Post Office handles half of the
worldwide mail, and that could be why security is on
the front burner when the organization begins planning
or retrofitting an existing facility. In fact, any building
under construction must meet the government’s USPS
RE-5 building and site security requirements.
The ASIS staff put together one heck of a security
tour in Philadelphia, and I’m looking forward to the
return in September.
This article originally appeared in the Security Products Magazine - July 2012 issue of Security Today.