Unified operations centers

Jeffrey Woodward and Mark Naese of Panduit have deployed an innovative UOC at its world headquarters facility


There are three rating scales to the method - Essential, Business Case and Strategy - and each are rated 1 through 10. Panduit established a go/no-go scoring level of 15. If an item's total score for all three scales hit 15 or higher, the item was included in the building plan. If not, it was dropped. Items like physical access control were given an Essential rating of 10. (Additional details on EBS scoring are available online in the expanded version of this article.)

Key Success Points

Woodward and Naese summarized the key points for a successful building project:

1. Start as early as possible.
2. Ensure that all stakeholders are represented on concept teams, so that nothing is forgotten.
3. Revise the conventional construction process - typically, IT comes in last; now, IT and the infrastructure elements must be addressed very early.
4. Account for legacy technologies by envisioning their future migration to IP networks, but including their conventional cable runs in the existing cabling pathways and patch panels. That way, when the business climate dictates the need to migrate, all required physical infrastructure elements are already deployed as part of the common infrastructure.
5. Realize that early design decisions heavily influence success.
6. Be sure to look well past "Day 1" to what you want the building to be 10 or 15 years from now. It can be easier to build some things in the infrastructure up-front, rather than pay for changes done later.

Return on Investment

"The payback for the $615,000 incremental costs for our U-OC2 and EOC capabilities is 2.6 years, which fits our corporate guidelines," Woodward says. "For example, instead of using fencing around the building campus as we have done with all of our other facilities, we're using video analytics with roof-mounted cameras. This is a significant cost savings, as well as a visual enhancement to the property."

Adds Connor: "Unified physical infrastructure allowed for several additional ROI enhancements, which resulted in a positive ROI in both hard equipment and soft operations cost reductions." (Additional details on ROI are available online in the expanded version of this article.)

Driving Interoperability

Networked technologies provide opportunities for systems interaction that expand the ROI for security technologies and other technologies.

For example, a system can push video and alarm messages out to receptionist phones, when appropriate. Visitor management systems can alert a receptionist when an escorted visitor's sponsor has left the building and not returned yet. Conversely, when a receptionist has momentarily stepped away from the reception desk, phone and video displays can instruct a visitor to call the U-OC2, so that staff can respond appropriately.

"This kind of interoperability is driven by how you and the stakeholders want the building to work, and what kind of environment and experience you want for your facilities," Woodward says.

Connected Buildings and Security Systems

When a multi-story building is under construction, passers-by see steel framework, concrete flooring, air ducts, pipes and cables - all of which eventually disappear when the outer skin goes on and the inside walls go up in the final phases of construction. When the building "comes to life" during occupancy, many building systems - including security systems - become active and start playing a role.

Because building systems are migrating onto a common network infrastructure, and are thus able to connect with one another to exchange information, it helps to envision the copper and fiber cable throughout as the building's nervous system, enabling its various management and control systems to optimize building functions. This is not just a poetic analogy, as can be seen from the two video links below.

Cisco, which created the second video, applied the unified operations center concept in creating its Global SFOC (Security and Facilities Operations Center). In discussing its ROI, Cisco's Deon Chatterton, Senior Manager of Integrated Building and Risk Technologies, pointed out that the return for an operations center with a combined function is higher than for two separate centers. Where a single-function operations center may not fully make its business case, consider a dual-function center.

It is worth taking 15 minutes to view these YouTube videos, and to note how many times security and security technology can be seen to play a role in both security and non-security building functions.