Aug 1, 2002 12:00 PM

JM Family Enterprises has nearly completed construction of a six-building campus equipped with a security system designed to plug directly into a security network spanning eight locations and 32 buildings across the southeastern U.S.

The company's use of security technology at its new and existing locations illustrates the promise digital technology makes to security professionals faster, better information combined with reasonable cost.

Just as computer networks have enabled more focused business operations, networks can also enhance efficiency of corporate security departments responsible for multiple remote locations.

As a $7.8-billion business employing approximately 3,400 people, the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based JM Family ranks as the 18th largest privately-held company in the United States, according to Forbes magazine. The company draws its revenue from a network of businesses related to the automobile industry, including automobile distribution, finance, insurance and retail sales.

Set in the 250-acre Westlake Industrial Park west of Jacksonville, Fla., the company's new campus will serve as a distribution hub for Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC, a division of JM Family. The facility will receive new Toyota vehicles arriving by rail and truck from manufacturing plants in Indiana, Kentucky, and Japan.

Roger Robbins, JM Family's corporate security director, and Darin Buckner, president of Access Limited Inc., a Jacksonville-based security integrator, designed the security system with an eye on the efficient movement of video, access control and alarm data across the campus and into a corporate-wide security network.

Security technology for Westlake will include a digital video CCTV system from Kalatel, a GE Interlogix company, Corvallis, Ore., an access control system provided by IDenticard, Lancaster, Pa., and intrusion alarms manufactured by Digital Security Controls Ltd., Concord, Ontario.

Approximately 30 Kalatel cameras, many with pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) mounts, will monitor the perimeter, parking lots, grounds, entrances, electrical and telecommunications rooms, and sensitive offices across the campus. Video from the cameras travels on a fiber-optic system to a local security center, where it is stored digitally on hard drives. American Fibertek Inc., Somerset, N.J., provides the fiber-optic transmission equipment. The video can then travel from the hard drives across the company's wide area network (WAN). The corporate WAN will pipe requested security video and data from all three Jacksonville campuses to the JM Family Deerfield Beach headquarters.

Seven of JM Family's campuses house security command centers. Remote command centers are located at each of three Jacksonville sites, in Commerce, Ga., Mobile, Ala., and St. Louis. The primary command center in Deerfield Beach operates on a constant basis.

At each command center, a Kalatel Digiplex system enables security officers to monitor video at a traditional analog workstation. In conjunction, a digital video multiplexer recorder (DVMRe) multiplexes video from various cameras, sends video signals to computer monitors and video monitors, and, most importantly, stores the video to disk.

The Westlake facility will have two DVMRe units, each with a 16-camera capacity. The system will manage the video and enable security personnel to instantly view images from any camera by typing in a date and time. Each DVMRe can store 320 gigabytes of video itself and can connect to eight more 160-gigabyte hard drives, bringing the entire DVMRe unit capacity to 1.3 terabytes. The two DMVRe's at the Westlake center store 2.6 terabytes, or 30 days of video per camera.

Similarly equipped, the Deerfield Beach central command center monitors CCTV, access control and intrusion alarm systems that protect the 11-building campus. Network connections allow access to data stores at all of the other company security centers.

When Robbins signed on as corporate security manager with JM Family 10 years ago, the company occupied six buildings monitored by four fixed cameras. A small IDenticard system provided access control.

Robbins was assigned to develop a security technology plan to keep pace with a fast-growing company. Using the tools available then, Robbins increased the camera count, added access control and installed intrusion alarms. The conventional site-based security technology design switched cameras through a multiplexed system with videotape playback and storage.

By 1997, JM Family's rapid growth had begun to outstrip the capabilities of traditional site-based security systems, and Robbins tapped the integration skills of Access Limited to develop a security technology growth plan. "At that time, the capabilities of security technology were increasing," Robbins says. "We wanted a system that would bring information from [all campuses] back to the Deerfield Beach [command center]."

Robbins and Buckner collaborated to distribute 120 Kalatel cameras across JM Family's facilities. The Westlake campus will bring the company-wide camera count to 150, with 100 being PTZ Cyberdomes.

The security plan also extended the use of the IDenticard access control system across the network. "IDenticard was among the first to come out with a network-able product," Buckner says. "That was about five years ago. Our plans called for a system that could accommodate thousands of readers on a network and provide photo ID badging."

Currently, JM Family employees use more than 400 mag-stripe card readers located at the company's facilities. "At one site, we also use barcodes on the mag-stripe cards for time and attendance purposes," Buckner says. Robbins and Buckner also installed IDenticard badging stations which include digital cameras, PVC mag-stripe card printers, encoders and digital photo storage.

"This system allows security officers stationed in the lobbies of JM Family buildings to compare a person on a video monitor with a photo in the storage system," Buckner says. "It also enables the officers at the remote command centers to compare a photo stored in the system to a person carding into a building." If the officer at a lobby station is occupied, officers in the appropriate remote command center can assist.

The connections between the remote command centers and the headquarters facility vary according to available technology. "Some locations report back over a WAN, but not all," Buckner says. "Corporate needs dictate the size of the network pipelines between campuses. If the available bandwidth on the WAN will not allow security to use the WAN, then DSL, ISDN, or a wireless communication technique makes the connection. We use all these methods to bring digital video and IP-addressable IDenticard panel information back to our monitoring stations."

As corporate security manager, Robbins is part of a staff of seven JM Family employees responsible for security across the company. The corporate staff manages approximately 50 contracted security officers assigned to JM Family by Barton Protective Services Inc., Atlanta.

While Robbins prefers not to discuss dollar figures, he will say that the way JM Family applies technology to security has helped to rein in security budget increases. "We have built an advanced security system with a budget increasing only 20 percent over five years," he says. Typically, corporate security budgets can increase by as much as 5 to 10 percent per year just to accommodate inflation, scheduled equipment replacements and maintenance activities.

The future has promise as Robbins and Buckner build on what they have created. "As the company's network increases in size and the bandwidth demands of video fall proportionately, we're going to be able to put more and more security video and data on the network," Buckner says.

Michael Fickes is a Cockeysville, Md.-based writer and regular contributor to Access Control & Security Systems.

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