Nothing To Mess With

Rebuilding security for Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission after Hurricane Sandy devastation

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast of the United States, taking several hundred lives and causing $75 billion in damage. Among the destruction was the security system of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC). One of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the United States. PVSC is responsible for processing 25 percent of the wastewater and sludge in New Jersey and 17 percent in New York.

PVSC has a stated mission of enhancing the viability and environmental health and security of 1.4 million residents in 48 municipalities, an important task that requires maximum security and the ability to surveil operations at all times.


PVSC operates and maintains an infrastructure, which includes the Newark Bay Treatment Plant and its 22-mile interceptor sewer line, to enable processing of more than 300 million gallons of wastewater every day. They also administer and operate monitoring and compliance programs to identify organic and inorganic pollutants and prevent them from entering the waterways of the Passaic River and its tributaries. PVSC improves the recreational and economic uses of Newark Bay, the Passaic River, and its tributaries by removing debris and other pollutants from shorelines and waterways through in-house and community-based river restoration programs.

With significant responsibility for such a vast area, it is essential to have a security system that provides a complete solution including video surveillance, visitor management, access control and alarm management. Prior to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, PVSC relied upon a pieced-together system of analog cameras for video surveillance. It provided the security they needed, but Christopher O’Shea, PVSC director of security & safety, believed the ability to rebuild after the hurricane was an opportunity to implement one interactive, state-of-theart system.

PVSC called upon New York-based Total Recall Corp., a Convergint Technologies company, to rebuild their security system. A provider of video-centric security and technology surveillance solutions including command and control centers, wireless connectivity, and video network design and management, Total Recall was also called upon at this time to rebuild security for another hurricane casualty: the Statue of Liberty.


Beginning in April of 2013, just a few months after Hurricane Sandy, Total Recall designed and installed a singular interactive security system for PVSC that upgraded to digital IP and streamlined all processes including video surveillance, access control, alarm management and visitor management.

Total Recall developed a fiber-optic system for PVSC that is separate from all other networks. More than 50 Samsung video surveillance cameras are managed by the Omnicast video surveillance system of Security Center, the unified security platform offered by Genetec. At PVSC, the Synergis access control system of Security Center is used to manage more than 20 doors and 20 vehicle gates on the property. Because PVSC includes a lot of land acreage, they had a specific need for vehicle gate access. Employee vehicles equipped with hands-free bar code scanners on car windows allow employees convenient access through gates. If an employee is not in a company vehicle, they can open the gate with their own access card or by contacting the command center for entry.

Working from a unified security platform, PVSC security operators are able to streamline processes, save time, and easily respond to events from multiple systems within one intuitive solution. PVSC manages security from an inhouse monitoring station that oversees all operations. The security building control room is equipped with six 55-inch monitors across one wall and an additional six 26-inch monitors on a console where team members assess door and gate activities, video surveillance, ID badging, and more. The Genetec Security Center platform has also been integrated with motion detection analytics, alerting operators to events throughout the vast complex and perimeter.

“One of the real benefits is that Total Recall has developed a system that is sophisticated, but is very easy to use and manage,” O’Shea said. ”I can have limited staff in to monitor it without impacting the level of service, which is the very best use of our resources.”

Total Recall’s team has developed customized training solutions for PVSC security employees that typically include groups of five.

“We like to provide training in phases to smaller groups so that we can give them more detailed instruction,” president of Total Recall, Jordan Heilweil said. “We use training to help them learn all aspects so they can maximize their usage and take full advantage of the advanced technical security it provides.”


O’Shea said they have been very impressed by the comprehensive system that Total Recall has put in place.

“Because we have more than 200 acres that back up to the Newark Bay, it’s a broad area to cover,” O’Shea said. “Our facilities and our security system were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, but with Total Recall’s vision and execution we were able to achieve a superior security system as a result.”

“Although they lost their previous system under unfortunate and disastrous circumstances, we were happy to help PVSC take the opportunity to maximize the ability to have a technologically advanced, unified security solution,” Heilweil said. He added that PVSC continues to expand the system with the addition of Axis Communications IP-video cameras and upgrades to increase coverage of the 22-miles of pipeline.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Security Today.

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