World-Class Security

Friedman brings blighted Chicago real estate into technology world

Chicago is a world-class city in every respect; though 40 years ago, the River North area was quite different. It was run down and almost forgotten, even though it was a prime location. Storeowners returned and entrepreneurs took a chance; business started to gain momentum.

River North is a neighborhood that fit perfectly into the hopes and dreams of Albert M. Friedman, who bought up buildings about 25 years ago, planned a new lease on life for the properties and with it, began a technological renovation. That included bringing the best security technology into play, and as time wore on, even updating and modifying what was in place.

Friedman wanted the best technology to protect his investment, and more importantly, to protect his tenants in the various buildings he owned. As the only 24/7 neighborhood in Chicago, River North and Friedman Properties have a shared vision for the area to ensure that success will continue to present itself: aligning the right tenants with the right buildings, demanding the best in security and investing purposefully.

Shifting Security

Jim Weiss has been the director of security for Friedman for several years and has seen the company move the analog to IP—from a security management system that really didn’t work that well to the network solution they are now using. The property management and real estate company is an all-IP video surveillance system. Four years ago, Salient Systems was brought on board to deploy its CompleteView solution at the head end. What this meant to Friedman was remote access to all its properties with high-quality images.

“We were ready to move to the next level of security about four years ago,” Weiss said. “What we were using in terms of security wasn’t working, yet we knew with technology there were some phenomenal possibilities for us.”

At that time, Friedman Properties was just finishing the construction of its Greenway Garage. The parking structure was the first candidate for a Salient System video management system, coupled with Axis Communications’ cameras. Weiss said that they knew DVRs would not be able to handle the images and network traffic they expected, especially when the company wanted to loop cameras from all other properties to a nerve center located in the parking garage area.

Friedman Properties has more than 50 properties in the River North area, and Weiss said that they run the security system as though it were a college campus. The company has deployed nearly 500 IP cameras, developing what they call a “solid security system.”

“This isn’t the end of what we’re going to do with these properties,” said Jay Rulili, CEO of Forest Security and the integrator for Friedman. “We maintain access to all the alarms and if anything goes wrong, we fix it right the first time; however, the systems they have chosen are dependable and reliable.”

Security as a Force Multiplier

Friedman Properties has a diverse group of tenants in River North. They range from what’s for lunch at Epic Burger, a cycling fitness center, to commercial office space with multi-tenant businesses.

The buildings represent a nostalgic look of yesteryear, but the security system is anything but retro. All camera feeds return remotely to a command center, and security staff is able to remotely see anything and everything. Tenants also have the opportunity to research captured video. CompleteView makes this possible at any one of the 40 buildings.

“In this case, CompleteView acts as a force multiplier,” said Brian Carle, chief technology officer at Salient Systems. “As a force multiplier, the VMS is not only the bridge to modernization for the security system, but allows remote access where the command center has access to all video.

“Because this area of the city has limited bandwidth, CompleteView has a dynamic resolution setting, allowing it to work effectively in River North where there is an older infrastructure, and where there are (modern) high-resolution megapixel cameras.”

With certain modifications, Carle said that the VMS also is able to deploy specific alarms in the command center that allow only relevant video to be displayed. Security staff is then able to focus on that point of interest and activity as CompleteView allows for motion detection that pops up on the video screen.

“It is part of the functionality of CompleteView,” Carle said. “A single action across multiple sites allows an update to the entire system. The force multiplier also means that Freidman Properties was able to reduce the expense of hiring guards on the ground, whose job it was to roam between buildings. Now, they are able to see via remote cameras what is going on, when it’s happening.”

The VMS also plays a key role for building tenants. Let’s say, for example, a tenant has forgotten keys, a code or even a credential to enter a building. Because of the remote possibilities, that tenant can alert the command center of his or her situation and can then be identified and authorized to enter. The command center will open the door to the building or the suite inside the facility through a remote facility unlock.

Out with the Old, In with the New

What was old is now renovated and new. Chris Meiter, vice president of sales at Salient Systems, has been on the ground floor in security since his employer took control of the head end of the security system four years ago. He said that this now vibrant part of Chicagoland is protected with the best security systems on the market. He said that Friedman Properties were interested in cameras that offered higher resolution and facial recognition in the IP video surveillance market. CompleteView brought it all together, and now that includes being able to see what is taking place by using an iPhone or iPad.

As the neighborhood evolves, Friedman Properties continues to expand its vision for the community with nearly $1 billion in new construction planned over the next five years including office, hospitality, retail, residential and parking space. The company’s current developments—a Silver LEED certified, Class A office building and two new Marriott hotels—will further the diverse mix of uses that give the neighborhood its unique flair.

Friedman Properties’ achievements in using historic preservation and adaptive re-use as the catalyst for revitalizing urban areas have earned the company national acclaim. River North’s central landmark, the old Cook County Criminal Courts building, rests on the history-steeped site of the Haymarket riot trials and saw some of the most infamous cases in the city’s chronicles tried within its walls. Now as one of the area’s most distinguished addresses, the building’s one-of-a-kind spaces are outfitted with state-of-theart technology and modern amenities to accommodate businesses’ 21st century needs. Among those needs are protection and asset security.

As security technology continues to evolve, application of new solutions will undoubtedly take place at River North.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Security Today.

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