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Creating an Integrated Approach

WHEN DESIGNING their new corporate headquarters, security personnel at MacDill Federal Credit Union (MFCU) had specific requirements in mind. One of the nation’s leading credit unions with more than $1.6 billion in assets and 173,000 members, MFCU wanted a system that went beyond basic regulatory requirements and would be scalable to accommodate future growth.

The five-story complex, which was completed in 2005, is located in Tampa, Florida; the campus encompasses 140,000 square feet on 25 acres of land and is home to 240 employees. Amenities include a three-story parking garage, a fitness center, and an employee lounge.

Joel Pecoraro, vice president and director of property administration for MFCU, wanted a comprehensive security program to ensure that the new corporate headquarters, which had cost $25 million, was protected at every point of entry. Pecoraro, in cooperation with the credit union’s executive building committee, looked at several options when shopping for the security system. After an extensive selection process, MFCU chose to partner with Engage Technologies, a Florida-based contractor that specializes in access control and security systems integration. Engage uses a variety of off-the-shelf security solutions to build an integrated system.

According to Pecoraro, MFCU chose to work with Engage because security was impressed with the systems the company had already installed at several of the credit union’s branches. Another significant factor was that Engage uses only its own employees during installation rather than hiring outside subcontractors.

Engage Technologies designed and installed a fully integrated security system for the new headquarters, including access control with proximity card readers, video surveillance with digital recording and CCTV, door monitoring, and intrusion detection systems. Engage also handled security systems for the facility’s three-story parking garage and gate and fence systems.

Thanks to close communication between Engage and the architects, the design took their security plans and the placement of card readers, alarm points, and CCTV cameras into consideration. That facilitated installation and helped to keep costs down.

MFCU’s security system includes an IP addressable access control system with 119 proximity card readers controlling various doors, including elevators and gates. The CCTV system is composed of 63 color cameras and six IP-addressable digital video recorders. The parking garage is equipped with four slide-gate and barrier- gate systems and three emergency help telephones. The alarm system has 120 monitoring points; a server computer; and a communications server.

Security guards have a complete badging station for photo imaging and card issuance; one workstation computer; a four-terabyte video storage server; one portable service laptop; and five 17-inch flat-panel monitors.

To monitor all these systems, Engage created an on-site control center to serve as a central command station. From this station, MFCU can modify door schedules, view and acknowledge alarms, open and close controlled doors and gates, add and delete cardholder records, and control personnel access. MFCU can also instantaneously create and disable the more than 240 badges for its permanent and temporary staff, as well as grant or limit access to secured sections of the building.

Pecoraro adds that a critical feature of the MFCU system is that it is scalable. “With our growth strategies for the future, we can easily add to the existing system as we expand our office space and add new towers.”

A key selling point for Pecoraro was that Engage Technologies limits the use of subcontractors in construction and installation to only high-voltage wiring and conduits. All security equipment installation and auditing work is performed by trained Engage technicians and engineers to ensure that the system is not compromised.

“In the past, we have sometimes had difficulty finding highly qualified people to maintain and service equipment,” says Pecoraro. “Knowing that Engage has technicians on staff makes my job easier.”

Since moving into the new headquarters location, MFCU has furthered its relationship with Engage by developing a security consortium. MFCU and Engage officials meet at least quarterly to discuss security issues and developments in the access control and security electronics industry that can be implemented at its headquarters and branch levels.

The sessions are also used to solve problems. For example, personnel at MFCU branches were often unsure who to contact if they needed equipment serviced. This led to redundant calls to Engage and corporate security. So, MFCU and Engage set up a specific e-mail account through a secure Web site.

The branch manager can now go online and e-mail a request straight to Engage. A copy of the e-mail is automatically sent to MFCU. When the maintenance or repairs are complete, Engage sends an e-mail to the branch manager, which is also automatically sent to MFCU, verifying that the issue has been addressed.

(For more information: Tanya Crete, contract manager with Engage Technologies; phone: 813/885-6615; e-mail:[email protected])

—Teresa Anderson is a senior editor at Security Management.