Security Management System Delivers
High-rise properties seek advanced technologies
- By Kim Rahfaldt
- Jul 01, 2012
Increased security levels in the post-9/11 world have mandated that high-rise
and large-structure building owners and managers address the future growth
of their security systems—making sure they can be upgraded as future needs
arise and as new technologies become available.
The installations of high-end electronic turnstiles that offer Web-accessed
integration of a visitor management system, access control and elevator control
have increased by more than 400 percent. Rapid technological advancements and
design ingenuity now allow for the full integration of all aspects of the security
These types of advanced security technologies attract chief executives who want
to move their law firms and insurance companies into highly secured buildings.
Tenant-driven Visitor Management
Blackstone/Equity Office Properties (EOP), a premier national property management
company with buildings throughout greater Boston, recently standardized
AMAG Technology’s Symmetry integrated security management system that allows
tenants to pre-enroll expected visitors and set the locations and times that
they should be allowed access. This technology results in decreased cost of security
personnel and an automated visitor process.
Any tenant in the building can pre-enroll a visitor via the Web. When the visitor
enters the lobby, he or she is prompted to use unmanned visitor kiosks that
feature a Navigo touchscreen display. The touchscreen, from Buildings Engines
and ITS, comes complete with a license scanner and card printer that is integrated
in either a free-standing or wall-mounted unit. The management system integrates
with Building Engines’ visitor management system by using Microsoft SQL™ via
AMAG’s Data Connect import utility.
“The management system delivered the features Blackstone/EOP needed without
having to be customized,” said Steven Feldman, installing integrator for Spectrum
Integrated Technologies. “Symmetry was selected for its ease of use and flexibility.”
At the kiosk, the visitor runs his or her driver’s license through the scanner, and
the information is automatically checked against the tenant information. If the data
matches, a bar code-enabled visitor pass is printed and presented to the visitor.
This entry card is enabled for the building’s electronic turnstiles as well as integrated
elevator cabs and standard access-controlled doors. If the visitor has not
been pre-enrolled by the tenant, he or she could go to the reception desk and have
the pass created by the attendant.
“The Symmetry Security Management System is a very user-friendly system,”
said Deb Garside, senior property manager at Blackstone/EOP. “In the lobby, visitors
walk in and print a badge; it’s self-explanatory for visitors and works well.”
A proximity reader is also built into each turnstile located in the lobby. Building
employees carry proximity credentials and present them to the reader. The reader
scans the card, and the turnstile grants access.
While installing turnstiles that receive heavy traffic flow and accommodate two
readers, Spectrum Integrated Technologies found that the level of technology and structural integrity of the turnstiles have a direct correlation with the longevity of
Spectrum understands the complexities of line voltage and the real-world concerns
of functionality in a heavily trafficked building, and the company used that
understanding to guide Blackstone/EOP to choose turnstiles from Gunnebo and
Smarter Security. The slim-line units have glass or stainless steel taking up the
majority of the turnstile body and can be fitted with custom millwork, stone or
corian-type materials to match the aesthetics of the building’s lobby. Glass barriers
with cold cathode beams provide a unique lighting and visibility component
to the installation.
Many tenants manage their own access control systems and databases. Spectrum
installed a reader router to direct transaction information from the lobby
turnstiles to the tenant systems so they have the ability to see the activity of their
employees in the lobby. The reader-router hardware allows the tenants to have
greater control over their security management systems, providing another attractive
amenity to the security system.
Employee credentials control who passes through the turnstiles and likewise
manage elevator floor access. Every tenant, employee and visitor has to use this system,
including all vendors and contractors. Everyone carries either a tenant or visitor
credential. The Symmetry solution provides a complete system from end to end.
The public can access retail areas of the building such as cafes, dry cleaners,
restaurants and health clubs. The turnstiles restrict access to elevators and back
areas of the building.
Security officers monitor Symmetry video and alarm activity in the security office
or fire command center, depending on what building they are looking at. A secure
rack is equipped with a rack-mount SMS server, flat-panel LCD display/keyboard,
video, mouse (KVM) switch, UPS and integral digital video recorders from Pelco.
The number of installed cameras varies at each location, and the cameras
monitor all entries and exits and each turnstile location. They also are installed
inside every freight elevator and in the freight and passenger elevator lobbies. The
systems are designed to assist the security staff to protect the building perimeter
and building staff.
“These are high-rise buildings in a major metropolitan city and as such remain
major targets for terrorism, theft and assault,” Feldman said. “Symmetry video
assists security staff in monitoring the facility perimeter and protecting the building’s
Security officers view camera activity on Symmetry’s video virtual matrix. The
virtual matrix allows the officers to view up to 72 cameras at one time. The officers
can assign viewing preferences according to their needs and can choose how
to monitor their building by assigning priority levels to the cameras. If the front
lobby camera displays a disturbance, security officers can enlarge that camera image
for better viewing.
The fully integrated lobby system has been successfully deployed in eight Boston
high rises and has become the standard for all buildings in Blackstone/EOP’s
greater Boston portfolio. The system provides greater tenant control over guests
and adds a high- tech appeal to the process.
“We have much more control over who is getting into the building,” Garside
said. “The tenants are the gatekeepers, and that’s part of the reason we installed it.
As long as the tenants use it, we have outstanding security.”
Aesthetics are Important
CBT Architects’ Mark Bourassa was the project architect involved in some of the
property designs. While architects normally don’t get that involved in the security
side of a project, Blackstone/EOP was particular about how its lobbies looked—
down to the lights, cameras and security kiosks.
Each camera location was specifically chosen, and every card reader was hidden. Blackstone/EOP chose to have
custom work done to achieve its desire
for a clean and modern lobby; therefore,
there were no cameras in the walls
or card readers showing anywhere.
Spectrum IT understands the complexities
of line-voltage and low-voltage
types of applications and has experience
with complex mechanical aspects
of an installation as well as real-world
concerns of functionality in heavily
trafficked buildings. Spectrum also has
experience on access control-integrated
barrier-type turnstile applications.
“Turnstiles may ‘appear’ to be working
correctly, but in fact they may be
displaying issues which, if you haven’t
installed five or 10 previous systems, you
wouldn’t recognize as issues,” Feldman
said. “It’s incredibly time-consuming and
technically difficult to do it correctly.”
Given Spectrum IT’s experience in
working with AMAG’s Symmetry SMS
and Symmetry Video, training security
officers was straightforward. The same
system is installed in eight buildings,
making it easy for security officers to
go from building to building without
requiring additional training.
According to Garside, building tenants
have found the system easy to use,
“Our building tenants do a tutorial
to learn the system,” she said. “The user
side of the system has been almost flawless.”
The system has not only reduced the
number of officers needed, but has provided
a tool to help security staff do
more with less.
Spectrum is working with several
manufacturers on designs that allow
for more functionality, faster throughput
rates and more intuitive use. The
company is looking at magnetic stripe
tag-stock cards as well as bar codes and
integration with the turnstiles to the elevators
through Symmetry to automatically
call the proper car to the lobby,
depending on which tenant is being visited,
and determine floors available for
Blackstone/EOP has asked Spectrum
to add video in the turnstile lanes
to provide information, building logos,
time and date and other short informational
data points in order to make the
system a little friendlier.
The property management companyh
will be constructing lobby videos
for tenant training during initial system
deployments in an effort to make the
system as user friendly and intuitive as
possible. Everyone plays a role in the
property’s security, and this integrated
system makes it effortless for all to do
“Integrating the Symmetry security
technology into the custom design of
the kiosks is something other property
management companies should consider,”
Bourassa said. “The solution is a
good model for property management
This article originally appeared in the Security Products Magazine - July 2012 issue of Security Today.