STE Security Innovation Awards Gold Medal: Security Stands Tall in Oklahoma City

Jeff Fields and Kent Chrisman have helped make sure that the iconic Devon Tower serves as a monument to security innovation


Rising high above downtown Oklahoma City, a 50-story skyscraper towering at a record height of 844 feet, stands as a testament to a city’s past and future.

Opened in March 2012, the Devon Tower serves as the world headquarters to Devon Energy, an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company. It is the tallest building in Oklahoma and the 20th largest in the United States. The 1,800,000 million-square-foot glass tower provides multifunctional space to more than 3,000 employees, consultants, and contractors. In a city where resiliency and progress are symbols of everyday life, the Devon Tower is an inspirational site to behold.

Oklahoma City has a unique and personal perspective on security. The worst case of domestic terrorism to occur on U.S. soil, the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City changed the state of Oklahoma and the country as a whole forever. Since the attack, Oklahoma has been a leader in identifying resilience as a security imperative, and Devon Tower — as the focal point of Oklahoma City’s new infrastructure — sets the standard for security integration and innovation while building sustainable infrastructure resilience.

“Because of the complexity and sheer scope of the job, it brought challenges many of us as integrators had never really faced before,” says Jeff Fields, General Manager of the project’s lead security integrator, Dowley Security Systems Inc.

 

Defining the Challenges

The Devon Tower is a breathtaking architectural achievement. Unique features of the building include a large domed rotunda that serves as the primary entrance to the building featuring panoramic views, wide open spaces and several leased shops currently occupied by retailers and restaurants. The tower also includes a six-story podium that contains auditoriums, classrooms and offices used primarily by Devon Energy. Each of the tower’s 50 floors include up to 28,000 square feet of office space, and the top two floors are dedicated for public use.

But securing the iconic building was just the beginning for Fields and the Devon Energy security department. They had to craft a way to protect both the building and the rest of Devon Energy’s far-reaching operations in the U.S. and Canada — which includes more than 200 natural gas pipelines and treatment facilities. In the end, Devon Tower needed to serve as the command-and-control center for each and every one of Devon Energy’s North American facilities and operational sites.

Dowley was asked to provide a turnkey security technology solution that would incorporate multiple security technologies into a single, integrated platform for security command and control of all of Devon Energy’s worldwide facilities. “It was important for us to make sure that all our corporate stakeholders would be comfortable with the technology solution as we moved ahead,” says Kent Chrisman, Devon Energy’s Director of Corporate Security.

Dowley Security oversaw the installation of perimeter security, access control systems, IP-based surveillance systems, and fully scalable IT infrastructure systems with an emphasis on operational continuity and critical infrastructure protection. This obviously included the entire Devon Tower, but it also encompassed satellite facilities throughout Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Canada. “It was our goal to bring a seamless security approach to the Devon Tower that would also integrate with our other remote locations,” Chrisman explains.

A Security Command Center (SCC) in the Devon Tower proved to be the critical component in the monitoring and response to issues or events that occur at remote locations.

Notwithstanding the challenges of blending security products with the aesthetic direction of Devon’s interior and exterior design structure, steps were taken to ensure that the security hardware blended with the flow and design of the tower, and strategic placement of devices did not compromise the integrity of the security design. This required the Dowley team to “shift on the fly” when the challenge required a specific product or design to fit a unique security need.

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