At the Frontline: Woodruff Arts Center Security Director Tim Giles

Giles discusses access control and security management measures for Atlanta's sprawling arts complex


[Editor's Note: This month we caught up with Tim Giles, CPP, director of security of the Woodruff Arts Center, a multi-building campus of arts venues in Atlanta, Ga. The Woodruff Arts Center main campus includes the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Alliance Theater, and the center also encompasses the 14th Street Playhouse in the downtown area. Giles was hired as the security director in 2005 after a number of years as a security consultant. Prior to that, he worked for 20 years in security for IBM. As director of security for the Woodruff, Giles is responsible for physical and information security, though he does not oversee the IT function. He came to the center while it was nearing completion on an extensive expansion, which included new buildings and security upgrades. Another portion of our in-depth interview with Giles appeared as the “Back Page” interview in the August 2006 issue of Security Technology & Design magazine.]

How did the recent campus expansion impact your overall electronic security system operations and design?

GILES: We have a dual setup here. We have the High Museum, which of course has a lot of high-tech security and always has. We have motion sensors, all kinds of alarm programs, CCTV and access control throughout the High Museum. On the other side, in the main building, which is the Memorial Arts Building, they’ve basically had very little security technology over the years. They had a few cameras.

And we also have a college dorm on site, because we had the Atlanta College of Art here for 100 years, but it’s now combined with Savannah College of Art & Design, and they have a campus just down the street from us. They had some access control readers on the dorm for the college students, but there were no readers on the main building. There were a few cameras on the main building, but even all the entrances didn’t have a camera on them.

I’m now in the process of expanding all that. I’ve put access control readers basically on all of our back door entrances. At our main floor entrances, we have people come in for the symphony, or for the Alliance Theater, or for some event that we’ve rented space out for—so those doors are typically unlocked and open during normal hours. So I haven’t put any readers on those doors yet, although I will on a couple, eventually, so that we have that for after hours. But because people considered that an open environment, they really didn’t do a lot with security, and it’s actually quite important that we protect the back side of the house, where all the performers and all that stuff goes on. So we’ve now got a lot of that in place.

I’m putting more camera systems in place and trying to tie that in and make my control center more event driven, with motion sensors and alarm sensors instead of just the old technology.

Were you able to participate in the security design of the new buildings?

In the new buildings they did consider security, because they had a chief of security for the museum, but they didn’t have anybody who was really overseeing security for the whole campus. So I’m like the campus director of security. But I give functional guidance to the chief of security for the museum, whereas I manage directly the security for the rest of it.

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