Security control rooms are always squeezed in whatever space can be found close to core infrastructure to avoid the expense of additional cabling or a reduction in revenue-generating commercial space. And the older the building the more a control room is likely to need refurbishment.
I’M sitting in the lobby of one of Australia’s iconic commercial high rise CBD buildings. From the comfort of the leather lounge chair the building’s slick modern appearance and feel of the sandstone, marble and steel that surrounds me exude luxury and opulence. The grand lobby gives no indication that this well-known and high-profile office tower is more than 25 years old.
However, as with many buildings, the back of house does not always keep pace with the look and feel of the façade. This was certainly the case here – the security control room had changed little from the original design when the building was commissioned, and when I looked at the images of the original control room, there’s no question that it showed.
I’m here to meet Roger Pearce of Sydney Building Technology Brokers. Pearce was the security consultant given the brief by the building managers to update its security control room, to bring it into the 21st century. Despite the appearance of the old space, don’t be fooled. From the point of view of an electronic security application, it’s a serious control room, supporting Gallagher Command Centre access control, intrusion and lift control, as well as a Honeywell surveillance solution.
According to Pearce, his first inspection of the control room suggested technology had been improved over the years but the space itself had never been thoughtfully enhanced to take advantage of the latest technologies and techniques.
“Although some of the security technology had been updated in recent years no holistic view had been taken of how to refit these new systems into the space,” he explains. “The managers wanted to start all over with a fresh new look and a modern design. This would require some demolition of walls, a new ceiling and new floor coverings. While that was being done, new workstations and large screen monitors would have to be installed.”
Complicating the process was that this control room supports a 50-plus storey building with a blue-chip client list.
“The upgrade had to take place without interrupting the 24-hour, 7-day security operation,” Pearce explains. “Previous control room upgrades I’ve done have involved moving a control room into a new location – this doesn’t have the complication of working around an existing live security operation.”
The Existing Control Room
According to Pearce, the first thing he undertook was an audit of everything in the room from strobes and indicator panels on the walls to all equipment on and under the workstations.
“This enabled us to identify redundant equipment which could be removed and would not have to be reinstalled,” he says. “As a result, we saved space and reduced unnecessary clutter which was making the space feel untidy and uncomfortable.”
“At the same time, the operators were consulted on exactly how they used the equipment and what the work flow was. This information was used to plan the new layout. The first task was to work out the sequence of events which was done in consultation with the building operations manager, security manager and builder.”
“Essential services were set up in a temporary location so that demolition and rebuild of the front wall could be done,” Pearce explains. “The makeover was also the ideal opportunity to upgrade some of the technology to make the systems more user friendly and work better for the operators. The Gallagher system was upgraded to the latest version of Command Centre, which allowed for better alarm handling.
“Because new megapixel cameras had been installed recently, the Honeywell DVM servers were upgraded to increase bandwidth which improved the performance and large flat screen LED monitors replaced a collection of old monitors which allowed many more cameras to be displayed at once. All new matching workstation monitors were used to replace a mismatch of monitors that had been supplied over the years.
“Some new BPT intercom units were installed in the car park to replace some other door stations. This means there is only the one intercom system instead of 2 separate systems. Two new adjustable height workstations were used and the wall is constructed with heavy-duty ply to allow mounting of heavy equipment with a cavity behind to allow easy cabling access.”
According to Pearce, new ceiling and carpet along with a fresh coat of paint have lifted the whole appearance and feel of this work space.
“This has meant a significant boost to morale and improved efficiency of the operators,” Pearce says. “It is now a space that the owners and managers can be proud of and take pleasure in showing to tenants and prospective tenants.” ♦