A Smart Security Program
Enterprise approach combines modern access control technology with top-notch security staff
- By Kim Rahfaldt
- Oct 01, 2018
Northwestern Mutual believes in doing what is right,
whether it’s for their clients, community or employees.
For nearly 160 years, the Fortune 500 company has
helped clients plan their financial security with confidence
and has been a staple in downtown Milwaukee.
Northwestern Mutual’s downtown campus consists of five buildings,
including a new 32-story tower, three-floor Learning Center and
commons space totaling more than 2.5 million square feet. More
than 3,000 people work at the downtown Milwaukee location. The
second campus is located in Franklin, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb and
includes two buildings occupying 1.1 million square feet with a workforce
of approximately 2,100.
Get with the Program
Northwestern Mutual operated several disparate security systems
for access control, alarm management, intercom, video and visitor
management. The new building project provided an opportunity to
upgrade the security system and overall security program. On the
technology side, the company selected AMAG Technology’s Symmetry
Access Control - Enterprise System and Symmetry GUEST
visitor management system. On the security personnel side, Northwestern
Mutual chose G4S Secure Solutions Security Officers to post
entrances and check in visitors.
“We didn’t want to tear out two access control systems to just
get one,” said Northwestern Mutual, Corporate Security, Bret Du-
Chateau. “We bundled it as a program to present a Security Access
Program to senior leadership. We were able to tackle access control,
as well as alarm management and visitor management for the entire
enterprise with a very strategic approach.
“We went with the Symmetry-Enterprise system because we wanted
everything to be automated and tie everything together from an
enterprise perspective. Everyone is talking the same language,” Du-
Chateau said. “Interoperability between the two command centers (in
Milwaukee and Franklin) is now possible, when it wasn’t before.”
Each campus has a Security Operations Center (SOC) that is
manned 24 hours a day. Operators use Symmetry to acknowledge and
log alarms and buzz people in via the intercom and video integration.
Audit reports are quickly printed to show statistics on the day’s activity.
“We used to have multiple applications so an alarm would go off
and we would dispatch. We’d document it in an Excel spreadsheet,”
DuChateau said. “After consolidating into an enterprise platform, we
enter almost everything into Symmetry and generate reports that tell us
how many doors we opened and how many alarms we acknowledged.”
By moving to Symmetry and automating their processes and documentation,
Northwestern Mutual experienced an 86 percent reduction
in the number of processes (alarm activity, forced access, timed
access, doors propped open, duress calls), producing a time savings
of 14 hours per month.
About 180 Vingtor-Stentofon intercoms are located throughout
the two campuses in the stairwells and parking structures and at all
main entrances. The intercoms are integrated with Symmetry Access
Control so when used, the security officer knows where they are located
and with a single click of the mouse, they can unlock a door
for their customer. Prior to the integration, the security officer would
answer the call and then need to figure out the person’s location.
“It’s a nice seamless integration that saves a lot of time,” DuChateau
During off hours when it’s quiet, Northwestern Mutual security
officers can dynamically roll all operations from one campus to the
next, including the intercoms. For example, if a downtown third shift
corporate security team member working in their SOC takes a break
at 2 a.m., they now have the capability to transfer all intercoms, security
and video to the Franklin SOC. The Franklin corporate security team member can view and manage everything on large monitors for
the duration of the break.
In the event of an emergency, the security team can perform mobile
mustering using a Telaeris XPressEntry reader with Hawkeye
software. The reader syncs with Symmetry Access Control to determine
who is in the building after an evacuation. The security team
can run a report that reconciles who badged into the building and
who badged out via the Talaeris reader. The comparison shows how
many people are left in the building and who they are.
Highly Trained, Flexible Staffing,
Streamlined Visitor Management
Several hundred Northwestern Mutual sales representatives from
across the United States come to the downtown campus every week
for training in the new Learning Center. Processing these visitors
must be smooth and quick.
Northwestern Mutual chose G4S Secure Solutions security officers
to staff its lobbies and secure dock areas. G4S is able to scale up
or down as needed on demand, making them the best fit as Northwestern
Mutual added the new tower and commons at their downtown
The security officers use Symmetry GUEST Visitor Management
to register guests. They look up the pre-registered visitor in the system
and print their badge. The officers get visitors checked in quickly
and provide a positive customer experience.
“We chose GUEST because we wanted everything to be automated
and tied together from an enterprise perspective,” DuChateau said.
The software easily tracks the number of visitors Northwestern
Mutual receives and can break down the information by building.
The data allows Northwestern Mutual to refine their process and become
more efficient. For example, statistics show the bulk of visitors
arrive between 7 and 9 a.m. and which lobbies receive the most visitor
traffic. This data enables supervisors to re-adjust security officers to
assist the busier lobbies during peak times.
“We know from a pre-registration standpoint that we have 300
visitors registered to arrive, and can send two officers over to a certain
lobby to assist with visitor check-in. We leverage Symmetry GUEST
to predict staffing requirements and to help streamline lobby traffic
flow,” DuChateau said.
Symmetry-Enterprise also helps the onsite restaurant plan for the
“At 9:30 a.m. every day we generate a “Who’s In” report and we’ll
send that over to our restaurant team so they know how many meals
to plan for,” DuChateau said.
Both campuses store confidential information and as such, they
must adhere to some National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST) standards. Provisions are in place to properly vet employees
who have access to secured areas to ensure the right people have
access so the company remains in compliance.
“We were able to add a 32-story tower to our downtown campus
and not request a single FTE allocation to our
staff,” DuChateau said. “Through automation and
working smarter using Symmetry, we were able
to deliver the same level of high security after the
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Security Today.