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Healthy and Secure

​With more than 8,000 Locations across the United States and approximately 247,000 employees, drugstore chain Walgreens puts a priority on protecting its assets, employees, and customers. The company’s security team, located at Walgreens headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois, strives to respond to any incident that requires attention in a timely manner, whether it be a robbery or a door alarm.

“Responding to events and dispatching is extremely important, especially in critical situations where we want to provide the best services to our people,” says Hal Friend, director of physical security and fire prevention for Walgreens.

The corporate headquarters, known as the support office, is home to around 7,000 employees. The security department, referred to as Asset Protection Solutions, is made up of asset protection officers (APOs), a physical access control systems team, and security specialists, among others.

About five years ago, the company was looking to upgrade its access control solution at its corporate headquarters and distribution centers. “We realized that we had outgrown the old platform we were on, and it wasn’t going to be able to keep up with us,” Friend notes. 

Walgreens turned to the Genetec Security Center platform, which offered an integrated video and access control solution with various features to meet the corporation’s needs. The installation was rolled out over the last few years across the corporate campus’s more than 40 buildings and distribution centers, and the last phase of the installation was completed in February 2017. 

Synergis, the access control platform from Genetec, is unified with Genetec’s Omnicast video management platform through Security Center, tying the support office’s 700 cameras into one system. 

Synergis operates card readers and turnstiles located throughout Walgreens’ support office campus and allows Walgreens to easily issue temporary badges for employees who forget or misplace their credentials. If workers forget or misplace their cards, they must produce identification to one of the company’s APOs. “The APOs verify in Genetec that the person is a badged employee, and then we have a process in Synergis to issue them a temporary badge that will expire at the end of that business day,” Friend explains.  

Through Synergis, the company can also set an expiration date for temporary badges for vendors, consultants, and contractors who need access for only a certain amount of time. 

Walgreens has a handful of high-security locations, such as data centers, which require two-factor authentication. The employees with access to these areas must present their card to the reader, and place their fingerprint on a biometric scanner. 

The company has also deployed anti-passback measures, which means the worker must badge in and badge out of the high-security location to prevent the badge from being shared. “If you leave without badging out, it will prevent you from badging back in, because the system thinks you’re still in there,” Friend notes. “It helps enforce compliance in high-value areas, so that we have exact record keeping on who was where, when.”

Through Synergis, the security team can also generate ad hoc reports that show the company who has access to specific locations. “We send those reports to the managers of those high-value areas, such as the data centers, and they audit them routinely to ensure that people who have access still require access,” he says.

Security Center from Genetec integrates into the company’s own security operations center, a 24/7 monitoring location staffed with trained officers called security specialists. If an alarm goes off anywhere on campus, the officers can click the associated alarm notification to view the video. “It’s really easy to immediately get that footage to see what happened,” he notes. 

Many of the cameras on campus are situated around the perimeter or pointed at access control points. This allows for easy review of video footage related to any alarms triggered by doors forced open or turnstiles that appear obstructed. If an alert goes off, “we can immediately dispatch an asset protection officer to respond to that alarm, realizing that most of the events are mistakes,” he says. “But we investigate them all in case we do have an intrusion.”

In addition to protecting the support office, these officers monitor Walgreens locations across the country and provide dispatch calls to local law enforcement in the event of an emergency, using a video management platform from a different vendor.  

When a burglar alarm goes off at any of the store locations, security specialists use high definition video to go back and view the video associated with the alarm. If they can confirm that an intruder set off the alert, they call the police. “We dispatch only on verified alarms to cut down on false alarm dispatching, which is appreciated by law enforcement,” Friend notes. 

With the headquarters located in a suburban environment, near major roads and highways, Friend says that unwelcome visitors can wander onto campus, though it is a rare occurrence. “There was an instance where the Genetec platform helped us identify an individual who came to the campus, and was not supposed to be here,” Friend says. Using video, which they turned over to law enforcement, “we identified how he got in, and then assisted the police in the investigation to apprehend that individual and resolve the matter.” 

Walgreens does retain video for a specified amount of time to remain in compliance with the various audits that the company participates in. 

Friend says that Genetec Security Center gives the corporation the flexibility it needs to maintain business efficiencies while providing security. “We’re ensuring security, but at the same time we never want security to impede the needs of the workforce at the campus,” Friend says. “We really feel we have that experience today with what we have.”

For more information: Beverly Wilks, [email protected],, 866.684.8006