It has been a long time coming, but the Bexar County Metro 911 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is up and running, and the security systems implemented to protect the facility are among the best of the best. The regional operations centre unifies emergency operations into one cutting-edge facility. A New Home Built in San Antonio, Texas, the EOC provides a new home for the Bexar County Sheriff’s communications operations and is an alternate site for the San Antonio police and San Antonio fire and EMS operations. The facility is a joint operations centre not only for Bexar County but also for Comal (New Braunfels) and Guadalupe (Sequin) counties. Tight security system All three counties touch dividing lines and are considered part of the San Antonio metro area. Bexar Metro 911 Executive Director Bill Buchholtz said building the facility has stayed on budget of $40 million, “give or take a couple of million.” The electrical system meets Tier IV data centre standards for maintaining operations regardless of any unplanned activity, and the mechanical system meets Tier III standards. Because the building is under a tight security system inside and out, it was also important that redundant systems were in place, as well as uninterrupted power. Employees based at the monitors on the main floor are given breaks every so often to decompress, relax and interact. Early stages of planning Alterman staff was fortunate to work with the general contractor in the early stages of planning security Alterman Technologies was hired to provide, install and direct the security solutions effort for general contractor Whiting-Turner, who directed construction on the 81,500 square foot facility located on 11 acres of land. Alterman Technologies’ staff was fortunate to work with the general contractor in the early stages of planning security for this facility. According to James Carmen, Alterman’s Project Engineer, being able to make early and consistent contact allowed for the integrator to help specify the types of security that they felt would most satisfy the end user. It also allowed the installation crew to be able to meet their integration deadline of 8 months, long before the overall construction of the facility was complete. Enterprise access control systems “We were able to evaluate all components of the security solution when we saw the demonstrations of the Lenel, Axis and Salient products,” Carmen said. “We’re pleased with the decisions we made to deploy this security equipment.” To keep the facility secure, Alterman Technologies installed 170 IP cameras inside and out to enforce perimeter security. Now that the facility has been formally dedicated and is fully in use, if a person doesn’t have a reason to be on property, they aren’t getting inside. The facility is secure. Alterman Technologies installed 120 door enterprise access control systems, including iClass biometric readers. Video management systems To monitor both the outside perimeter and inside the building itself, 110 5 MP Axis Communications IP cameras were paired with Salient Enterprise video management systems integrated with the Lenel access control solution. Inside the operations centre, the facility is outfitted with 100 55-inch video control systems side by side, all of which are integrated with video and audio control solutions. During Hurricane Harvey, operators inside are able to coordinate any and all emergency and rescue operations Inside the facility, there is a first-floor, open room for 104 operator desk consoles, where operators can keep tabs on all three counties. Operators sit in a 13,878-squarefoot Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to handle all 911 calls, formerly managed at 25 different locations. In fact, during the recent Hurricane Harvey, operators inside are able to coordinate any and all emergency and rescue operations. Getting behind the power “The ability to have multiple supervisor control stations is a key feature, providing access to sources and allowing supervisors to manipulate the wall and change presets as needed,” said Art Salinas, Project Manager for Alterman Technologies. “It’s a great system with no real limitations. I believe the client has been pleased with the capability to control and preview content before it goes on the wall. They currently have about 30 preset displays.” With the number of cameras and the video streaming to the facility, Salinas had to be certain the equipment he was recommending and the software that would power the system would work without a hitch, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Our work to determine the right kind of solution was very involved, and we evaluated all the systems,” Salinas said. “When it came right down to it, we selected Lenel’s OnGuard for access control, Axis Communications IP cameras and Salient’s VMS and its PowerUltra servers. All of this is securely stored in an enclosed network so there is no worry of outside hacking.” Perimeter security system With three counties and multiple agencies using this facility, the security solutions have to be dependable" Salient Regional Sales Representative Paul Fisher said the choice of VMS was truly an important decision because it had to be strong enough to stop any breaches but also be able to provide the ability to run the perimeter security system and the internal security. “Our VMS solution is able to take the lead with all the streaming video and push it wherever it is directed,” Fisher said. “With three counties and multiple agencies using this facility, the security solutions have to be dependable, yet easy to use. We were invited in to demonstrate the system, and we were able to show numerous details that would benefit the end user. We are able to provide reliability and scalability, and we’re a local company, so that worked to our benefit as well,” Fisher said. Law enforcement officials The facility is designed to provide uninterrupted 911 services during various emergencies, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters. There also is an onsite helipad for access by law enforcement officials, should area roadways be closed or congested, and for staging for media during a public emergency. The building is constructed to withstand an EF3 tornado strike and to operate without any public utilities for an extended period of time. “The mission of the facility is to provide that emergency response when a caller is quite possibly going through the worst experience of their life,” said James Hasslocher, Bexar Metro 911 Network District Chairman.
BBVA Compass Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium located in Houston, Texas, USA and home to the Houston Dynamo, Major League Soccer club (part of MLS in USA). It also is home to the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League and to Texas Southern University Tiger football. It is also going through a major retrofit with its security systems to include a best of breed, open architecture solution. The stadium first opened in 2012, but six years later, Cultris Security Systems of Houston is back upgrading and expanding the current security installation. After spending five years with another security provider, the Dynamo and Dash, who maintains the facility, opted for a completely new solution. Axis cameras integrated with Salient Systems VMS Along with their current Panasonic cameras, stadium officials opted for Axis Communications cameras Along with their current Panasonic cameras, stadium officials opted for Axis Communications cameras. Both camera manufacturers play well with Salient Systems VMS. The result was an image resolution much more enhanced than they had been experiencing. “With all of this equipment brought together, we found it to be easy to use, user-friendly, and supported a very complimentary search function,” said Paul Fisher, Director of Key Accounts at Salient Systems, adding “For those people hired as facility guards, and with a sometime frequent turnover in staff, new people were able to use the Salient software right away and were able to do their job guarding the facility more quickly.” Paul further stated, “An installation like this is a great reference for us, and it is a very exciting security installation. Although there are fewer than 100 cameras, the placement and location of the cameras will allow security to monitor the sometimes over-zealous fans, and with BBVA Compass Stadium officials installing our synopsis video tool, stadium officials will be able to key-map the entire facility, gain analytical data and improve the customer experience.” CompleteView VMS platform Salient also partners with Dell, taking its CompleteView VMS platform into the booming Internet of Things market. The CompleteView VMS’ ability to quickly render and manage video surveillance over a WAN or LAN makes it a compelling offering for solution providers looking to gain a foothold in IoT. The manner through which the video is processed is very efficient, and can render the video and perform forensics on the video rapidly. As more businesses look to video surveillance as an IoT application, the CompleteView VMS platform can be integrated with other software packages will enable partners to work with customers to solve specific problems through big data and analytics capabilities. DSX software installed for secure access control BBVA Compass Stadium officials also switched out the outdated access control software and installed DSX software to complete the upgrade. “We have long known that DSX is a workhorse software solution,” said Jason Smith, President of Cultris Security Systems Inc., adding “It is easy to use and a lower cost to use. These upgrades are exciting for us to be part of because the installation will come in several phases, with the integration supported for years to come.” Open architecture security solutions Cultris technicians almost had a blank canvas to begin their security installation Jason adds, “We also found working with BBVA Compass Stadium staff very easy because they were receptive to open architecture security solutions. Phase Two will begin in 2019, and we’re excited to design the next layer of security at the stadium.” Cultris technicians almost had a blank canvas to begin their security installation. The facility itself is an open architecture facility, so facility managers were very receptive when plans were drawn up for security equipment. Much of the focus was on the stadium concourses, where the bulk of the soccer fans’ traffic is found during a match. 360-degree cameras installed The new master plan now included 360-degree cameras along the concourse, which offered coverage in every direction. The same 360-degree cameras were also placed near the locker rooms, loading docks and service areas. PTZ and fixed lens cameras were upgraded and placed in each corner of the facility where there is a gate for entrance and exit. As imagined, soccer fans are very passionate about their sport and teams, so cameras on the concourse were placed in a planned manner for the guarding staff to be able to know and react quickly if or when a fight broke out among spectators. The 360-degree cameras also enable the security staff to mobilise and reach the incident spot, where they would be required, as quickly as possible. 4K PTZ cameras Stadium security staff is able to view cameras placed in an adjacent parking area Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium has a capacity of 22,039 seats, including 34 private suites, 1,100 club seats, an indoor premium club area, a dedicated supporters/fans stand and a food court. The stadium is designed to accommodate Major League Soccer (MLS) and FIFA standard international soccer, as well as other sports including football, lacrosse, and rugby and live concerts. Stadium security staff is able to view cameras placed in an adjacent parking area, as well as city security cameras (live view only) in order to ensure the safety and security of people coming to the venue and leaving after the match. These cameras have a 4K PTZ quick drive function, which helps establish a clear view of events, if additional security help is needed. As an integrator, Cultris Security has clearly installed a solution that will work properly for BBVA Compass Stadium, and their tenants, who are always looking to strike a goal.
Imagine a campus security installation so big that it will take years to complete all the work, and it also means installing solutions with the latest technology and significant impact on school security. This illustration is the kind of job an integrator can really sink their teeth into. It is the kind of solution that a manufacturer wants to keep on their to-do list. Houston Independent School District Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest school district in Texas and is the seventh-largest school district in the United States. The latest technology is about to make its debut in every one of HISD's campuses. HISD has built ten new schools within the district in 2018 and is expected to add another 10 to 12 this year, all of which will be brought on board with new cabling and IP cameras. In all, there are 280 schools in the district. IP network cameras installed We (Salient) have partnered with Houston ISD for their security needs for more than a decade" The change in security solutions would be significant as the district had already deployed upwards of 17,000 analogue cameras at its schools with coax cable. As seen with many of the surrounding school districts, the time had come to retire the old system and make significant upgrades. "We (Salient) have partnered with Houston ISD for their security needs for more than a decade," said Paul Fisher, Vice President of Global Key and National Accounts at Salient Systems, adding "We have worked with other nearby school districts in the Houston area, including HISD. Our extensive experience will continue to guide HISD as they build new schools and refurbish other facilities in the district." Implementation of PowerUltra hardware Fisher said the most significant difference with the new IP security installations would be the implementation of Salient's PowerUltra hardware. This hardware will replace an obsolete Windows XP, which is no longer serviced by Microsoft. PowerUltra hardware is the new standard of storage from the IT perspective. "This hardware will allow HISD to grow over the next five years and give them twice as much horsepower than they currently need," Fisher said, adding "This is a major move to IP video surveillance, and each server will easily handle more than 200 IP cameras." IP video surveillance solution Building schools and refurbishing the current installed base at HISD is no easy task. The district covers territory in nine municipalities and some unincorporated areas in Greater Houston, including all of the cities of Bellaire, West University Place, Southside Place, and most of the area within the Houston city limits. HISD also takes students from the Harris County portion of Missouri City, a part of Jacinto City, a small portion of Hunters Creek Village, a small piece of Piney Point Village, and a small section of Pearland; Pearland annexed territory within HISD between 1998 and 2005. There are 209,000 students, speaking nearly 100 languages, nearly 12,000 teachers, and approximately 28,000 support staff. Enhanced safety and security Safety and security are part of the project scope for all recently completed schools" "Safety and security are part of the project scope for all recently completed schools and those currently under construction,” District officials said, adding "This includes the 40 schools that are part of the 2012 Bond Program, as well as seven more schools, either recently completed or under construction, that are not funded by the 2012 Bond." Additionally, the 2012 Bond Program includes a US$ 17.3 million line item dedicated to safety and security upgrades at schools district-wide. That focus was further strengthened in 2017 when the HISD Board of Education allocated an additional US$ 12.1 million for district-wide safety and security needs. Adopting a total IP solution "We are pleased to be a part of this safety and security upgrade at HISD. Using Salient technology at the head-end of the security systems says a lot about our open architecture, and the trust that the school district has placed in us," Fisher said. He adds, "As we help HISD move towards a total IP solution, we are also pleased to work with the HISD IT department and upgrade their network cabling." Security upgrades Not all HISD schools fall under the bond program. Many safety and security upgrades are made based on a review of assessed needs at various campuses. Most updates are at elementary and middle schools because so many high schools have been or will be replaced or rebuilt with the district-standard safety and security measures already incorporated. "The upgrades have been completed partially in-house and partially by contracting with construction, technology, and security vendors," district officials stated, adding "In regards to wire pulls, all new campuses have robust fibre optic and wire backbones, minimising the need for new wire pulls. However, for upgrades at existing campuses, the amount of wiring needed and pull times will vary." Salient Systems VMS Salient System's VMS has been in place throughout their decades-long security contract While Salient System's VMS has been in place throughout their decades-long security contract, the company's technology unit has been working hand-in-hand with HISD's Information Technology division with the installation of the PowerUltra in new schools. All while security maintenance, a team under the purview of the business operations facilities and fleet services department, is overseeing server replacement in existing schools. Increased level of visibility "The leadership of HISD has taken safety and security to a new level with the highest quality of products and solutions, meeting the demands of installation at new schools and existing campuses," Fisher said. He adds, "Our goal has been to ensure that the software and storage systems we provide lend themselves to the overall health of the security system. The increased level of visibility in the 'live view mode' ensures that what an operator is looking at is viewed at the proper resolution." Increased coordination between SOC and security system Implementation of safety and security upgrades is currently underway. Once fully implemented, HISD expects to see a significant increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of communications, specifically, district officials will be able to see real-time 24/7 server monitoring, allowing for increased connections between the security operations center (SOC) and the security system. Technicians also will be able to troubleshoot remotely, increasing efficiency. "The SOC is manned 24/7," the district official said, adding "As servers are migrated to the PowerUltra, SOC will be monitoring them 24/7." The official further stated, “Currently, a manual report is run each morning to determine what servers are down. Campuses also may call during the day to report if they are unable to view their cameras. Once an issue is identified, a technician is dispatched to the site to troubleshoot."
The sad reality of today’s campuses, whether K-12 schools or college campuses, is that they can no longer be areas anyone is welcome to enter; there must be steps taken to prevent someone who would enter the campus with intentions to harm students, teachers, and staff. For years many organisations have been reactionary, thinking some of the horrific acts of violence happen elsewhere but could not happen here. However, recent events, especially the Parkland shooting, have caused many to realise they must be proactive. People who studied education most likely have no formal training in the security field, yet now they are expected to make expert decisions about campus security. So how can those in this field make the best choices with regard to campus security? Paul Fisher shares four things to consider when developing campus security. Access control system Integration has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the security industry for the past few years Integration has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the security industry for the past few years. People understand the need for different technologies to communicate effectively and reliably, and to provide law enforcement, firefighters, and school administrators with seamless communication with security systems so they can effectively do their jobs. “Many of the recent tragedies have caught us, from the campus security side, off guard,” Paul Fisher, Director of Key Accounts, at Salient Systems said. “Just because I have this access control system, this camera system, and a gunshot detection solution, security professionals still need to confirm these products are going to work seamlessly together.” Seamless interoperability Unfortunately, Fisher says, as 9/11 taught us, seamless interoperability isn’t always the case. “While many security consultants might say certain technologies should or must integrate, they don’t necessarily go through the process of step-by-step implementation and review,” Fisher said. “You need to ask yourself, ‘If this is happening, what should happen next?’” The main goal of the consulting world is to fit a video system or a security system into the budget of the school district or bond, and unfortunately, things might get left out as schools don’t always have enough money to outfit their campuses with a fully effective security solution. Video surveillance systems Schools can focus on physical hardening aspects of security, such as a man trap area in a vestibule Fortunately, attitudes in this area seem to be shifting as campus security professionals address real threats towards their campus and begin to be proactive about implementing a solution that truly integrates and interoperates with the various layers of available technology, as well as with campus readiness programs and local law enforcement. Schools can focus on physical hardening aspects of security, such as a man trap area in a vestibule or bulletproof doors. Another technology that campuses are finding useful is gunshot detection. While this technology is not new, it has certainly become far more effective than it was in its earlier iterations, and when integrated properly with video surveillance systems and mobile map technology, it can be an incredibly useful tool for law enforcement entering a potentially deadly situation and for those who need the earliest possible warning. Law enforcement awareness “If you talk to students and really listen to the stories that come out of the shootings,” Fisher said. “So many times, the kids say, ‘We thought it was something else; we didn’t realise it was a gun.’ Until they realise the gunfire is right next to them, they don’t know what is happening.” As soon as the gunshot is detected, that’s an early warning for the teachers and students to get out of the hallways and into a classroom or an area where they can lock the door. Another related technology that must integrate with an overall security system is automatic lockdown. As soon as the school realises there is the potential for an event, it must have the ability to lock down as many doors as possible while still providing the ability to see inside the school, so the responding officers have a better idea the threat and giving staff and law enforcement awareness into the situation. Facilitate Situational Awareness Situational awareness is closely tied in with a campus security system’s integration with other technologies Fisher says most schools use their video surveillance systems primarily for investigation purposes after the fact, but to truly save lives, schools must be able to offer useful live video feeds to law enforcement. This requires integration with gunshot detection systems that can pinpoint the spot where a shot was fired and highlight the live feed from nearby cameras. A simple interface must give an officer, who may not be trained in such a system, the ability to know where the camera is located and the direction it is pointed so that he or she has the situational awareness necessary to find and neutralise the threat as quickly and safely as possible. This situational awareness is closely tied in with a campus security system’s integration with other technologies. Gunshot detection system To help organisations better capitalise on this technology, Salient’s platform is offering the ability to implement maps into a mobile device, Fisher says.“So now with a handheld device, mobile phone or a tablet, approaching law enforcement, if given that access, can look at a map that will show the direction the camera is pointed and its physical location on the map of the facility,” Fisher said. “If the video surveillance system is tied to the gunshot detection system, it would trigger the camera to change colors indicating this is the general direction the shot came from. With a camera that is physically located in the area, the instant video will show exactly what’s happening in the camera view area.” Good financial fiduciaries For educational institutions, finances are probably the biggest barrier to getting the most effective system. Those making the decisions must not only spend the allotted money wisely, but they must spend it on proven technology. Schools can’t afford to spend it on a new technology that makes huge promises but fails to deliver. Local businesses often partner with law enforcement who will come in and do an evaluation of the facility One way Fisher says educational organisations can ensure they are good financial fiduciaries is to cultivate partnerships with local, state, and even federal law enforcement agencies. “A security consultant addressing a school board doesn’t have as much weight as your local FBI saying it,” Fisher said. Local businesses often partner with law enforcement and the FBI, who will come in and do an evaluation of the facility. Law enforcement agency “They come into ports, airports, critical infrastructure on a daily basis and provide a threat assessment. It would be valuable for school districts to go to local or state level and even a federal level law enforcement agency and ask for an evaluation of their campus,” Fisher said. “Those evaluations would provide a high level of assurances for a school board when they propose a bond request.” Institutions must partner with the right companies to truly get the most out of their security solutions and integrations. “The industry started with proprietary technologies in everything they did,” Fisher said. “And then it moved to an open architecture approach. Security industry manufacturers are now moving back to a proprietary format, meaning that companies have decided they want to be the jack-of-all-trades and the master of none. They offer access control, cameras, VMS, analytics—they try to wrap it all up and say they can do it all.” Video security solution Fisher says it is the companies that continue in an open architecture approach that has the ability to really hone in on the best-of-breed technologies and provide the flexibility to adopt and deploy the best available components of a total solution. “We are committed to helping you design the best video security solution for your needs,” Fisher said. “And we will integrate with companies that offer products that meet those needs.” Integration between systems can be one of the most important features for day-to-day users of the security system. If multiple security technologies are in place, integration of those technologies should be a goal for most organisations’ security programs in order to maximise benefits from each system.
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