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

Dec. 10, 2012
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.

“There were plenty of weekends and late nights that saw our team resolving issues,” Fields says. “Our team was really emotionally and professionally invested in this special project.”

Protecting the Tower

In an extremely security-conscious landscape, such as in Oklahoma City, security challenges are always changing and evolving. Still, the goal of the security philosophy at Devon Tower was to maintain an open, inviting environment while keeping the aesthetics of the beautiful architecture in mind. “Trying to secure an open environment as your facility is being built — and you are occupying it floor by floor — presents security challenges that evolve constantly,” Chrisman explains. “Because this is a showcase facility, one of the issues we had was trying to maintain the security integrity of the system as we also worked closely with the architects to achieve a level of aesthetics everyone would appreciate.”

Access Control: The access control security management system at Devon Tower was designed to meet the most complex security requirements to ensure complete system security, resiliency and reliability. Throughout the tower, hundreds of access controlled points manage and supervise door access and functionality, while maintaining integrity to areas with restricted access. Technologies include HID card readers, X-ray inspection systems from Smiths Detection, IR photoelectric beam detectors from Bosch Security Systems, and Stentofon intercoms for voice communications. Access-controlled entrance lanes in the podium, rotunda and office floors of the tower are controlled by glass and optical turnstiles from Gunnebo USA.

With so many access control and visitor management technologies alone, Devon Energy’s security staff needed an interface for centralized command and control of just the access systems. Dowley chose AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Enterprise software as the leading-edge access control solution. As a scalable access control and security management solution for large enterprise applications, the system can manage multiple layers of access to buildings, automate notification of alarm conditions, and significantly improve the level of response to incidents by Devon Security personnel. The open architecture of the system ensures that integration with other security systems and applications can be easily achieved using the latest software development techniques, and also offers a range of fully-integrated add-on modules designed to enhance the system and provide higher levels of flexibility and integration.

AMAG’s multiNODE M2150 system controller was integrated with the Symmetry Enterprise security management software to deliver database intelligence with connectivity to remote door controllers. The multiNODE controllers receive data from card readers, while a local database is used to check access privileges to each entry point requesting access to the space.

Perimeter Security: Exterior protection was created with architectural aesthetics in mind. Embracing CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) principles, structured planters serve as physical security barriers around the perimeter of the entrance areas. Natural rocks within the landscape were also anchored into the ground, creating anti-ram vehicle barriers. Where natural and aesthetic barriers could not be deployed, single-buttress surface mounted vehicle barriers from Nasatka Security have been installed at strategic entry and exit points on the campus.

Video Surveillance: State-of-the-art pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras from Axis Communications and Bosch Security Systems are deployed throughout the Devon Tower.

PTZ dome network cameras from Axis were installed in high-traffic areas including the main lobby, rotunda, elevators, and throughout the first level to monitor all doors and exits. Ideal for indoor surveillance, the domes feature HDTV-quality video, 18x zoom, streaming of multiple JPEGs simultaneously, and 360-degree panning.

For the tower’s exterior areas, the award-winning AutoDome PTZ camera system from Bosch was chosen, adding real-time intelligence to the surveillance system.

Visitor Management: One of the most challenging aspects of the security system design was Devon Energy’s desire to allow the public to have access to the tower’s amenities and campus surroundings. The tower’s visitor management system needed to be able to enroll visitors, capture their picture identification and ultimately create a visitor badge. The collected data collected would then need to be approved and visitor access levels set based on each individual. This vetting process would also apply to contractors and vendors.

To achieve the level of security desired, Dowley chose the PassagePoint Enterprise Visitor Management System solution from STOPware. The software provides total control in verifying, screening, and badging visitors with ease, speed and scalability. Visitors to Devon Tower can expect a quick and painless registration and verification process. Touchscreen displays are used for self-enrollment, and driver’s license readers analyze and process visitors easily. The final result is a visitor badge with picture identification that indicates access according to the individual’s access levels or permissions.

Inside the Command Center

More than 200,000 feet of cabling infrastructure runs through the Devon Tower, linking all network and access control devices to the Security Command Center. Within the Command Center, Devon Energy security personnel can monitor, secure and respond to all of its operations — both within the tower and at remote and satellite facilities.

AMAG Symmetry’s interface supports all equipment and monitoring for both traditional security and life safety/operations systems. Access controlled doors, interior and exterior security cameras, gate intercoms/cameras, and duress buttons were all accessible and controlled from the Security Command Center (SCC) within the Devon Tower.

For example, a Devon Energy Security Command Center Operator sitting at a security console in the SCC would receive alarm notification through the Symmetry system that a duress button at a field site was pressed. The operator can immediately pull up the video associated with that alarm to see what’s going on in the facility and they can operate the PTZ cameras remotely to look for suspects. The operator can also unlock vehicle gates to allow free egress from the facility or ingress of first responders.

In the event of a safety incident in the tower or at a remote facility, Devon SCC operators can see and remotely adjust PTZ cameras to assess site conditions, unlock all access-controlled doors to allow employees out of the facility and then monitor the mustering of each employee to a safe zone via card reads. They can then notify on-site security personnel of any employees that did not badge in at the muster site, relay their latest badge-in location and begin to look for them on video, or dispatch personnel to their last known location.

Standing Tall

In a city that holds the safety of its people as its primary goal, the Devon Tower stands tall as a beacon of security innovation. “This was a dream project,” Fields says. “All the stakeholders bought in to the concept from the beginning and were dedicated to following through to produce a world-class installation.”

STE’s Security Innovation Awards is an annual contest held in collaboration with the Security Industry Association (SIA) that recognizes and honors the most innovative security installations of the past year. The awards recognize the lead vendor, integrator and the end-user, and honor gold, silver, and bronze award winners. For more information about the awards program and details on how to enter next year, please visit For more about SIA, please visit