Security Management System Delivers

Security Management System Delivers

High-rise properties seek advanced technologies

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 management system.

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 the product.

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.

Symmetry Video

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 tenants.”

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, as well.

“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 the visit.

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 their part.

“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 companies.”

This article originally appeared in the Security Products Magazine - July 2012 issue of Security Today.


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