Security Partnership Tackles the Great Outdoors

March 9, 2009
Northern exposure no problem for this team

Shared expertise and common objectives between integrator, telecommunications professionals and distribution forged the way for the installation of an integrated networked building automation, access control and video system for the Matanuska Telephone Association (MTA) in Palmer, Alaska.

MTA invests heavily in its telecommunications infrastructure, an extensive backbone of fiber optic and electronic platforms supporting broadband DSL across its service areas--some 10,000 square miles of south central Alaskan wilderness.

As part of its customer commitment, the company has been securing its critical communications facilities and installed an integrated solution running on a Siemens Building Technologies (SBT) building automation software backbone and AMAG Technology security management system. The system provides accountability and management of local and remote access control systems and a safer working environment for employees.

“Two of our goals with regards to the upgraded system were solving issues related to accountability and keying and rekeying,” said Tom Flodin, MTA Fleet Facilities Manager.  MTA first discussed the system in 1989 during planning for its new headquarters, built in 1993. Flodin said MTA wanted to deploy a security system that could be scaled up and integrated not only with access control but video at its main headquarters with a retail store as well as two offsite retail stores, approximately 10 telco central offices and 100-plus unmanned communication huts located across its vast service terrain. Some 75 percent of the telecommunications huts are fiber feeds and others copper.

Flodin commented that fiber optics have no problem operating in the cold climate. However, fiber placing can only be done during active construction months, from May until November. Cary Clark and David Downey, MTA facilities maintenance technicians, oversee the security management and enterprise video system over the Wide Area Network.

Siemens Building Technologies (SBT) General Manager-Alaska, Leverette Hoover, works in a partnership and consultative manner with MTA on the building automation (which originally began with a previously installed Landis & Staefa control and other predecessor equipment) and that naturally spilled over into designing security. Siemens currently services the building automation, fire alarm and mechanical systems for MTA.
Leverette said MTA has a central monitoring location for its access control and video, which provides remote notification on alarm, supervisory or maintenance conditions with in-house 24-hour central dispatch.

Partnership plays off expertise
“MTA wanted to work with us, along with Symmetric Interconnect Systems, Petaluma, Calif., to provide product solutions and service. They are self-sufficient and have a lot of low voltage expertise in-house,” Hoover said. “They would come to us with their thoughts on security and tying into their existing system. We would help them design the job, with the best total solution in mind,” he said. “We worked together as business partners to ensure we met their needs, while developing a design that resolved their issues and concerns.”

The MTA headquarters is a smart building with occupancy sensors and fiber to the desk. It houses a retail store as well as sales, engineering, retail customer service, call center and upper management. MTA deployed magnetic stripe (swipe), keypads and proximity readers throughout the building and elevators and established different levels of access. Cameras with motion detection circuitry monitor the lobby and other areas, with plans to install video cameras in four public meeting rooms.

Some 100 huts measuring 10 by 12 feet and peppered throughout Alaska house DSL lines and act as an extension of the central offices to manage subscriber Internet and telephone communications. The huts are monitored through reader activity and store a history log which can be uploaded. Door sensors are tied into the building controls and indicate if someone tries to gain access. These sensors then enter the system as an alarm. If there is an alarm after hours it’s forwarded to dispatch and a technician is alerted.

Of course, when you’re talking about Alaska, the topic of weather is sure to come up.

“The huts are located in one of the harshest environments in the world,” said Symmetric Interconnect Systems Inc. president Jeff Trick, product distributor. “MTA hasn’t had a reader fail and it can be 50 degrees below zero in the winter--a very unique environment.”


What We Learned from this Story
Big cities aren’t the only ones upgrading infrastructures. Across the country, like MTA, many telecommunications, municipalities and other industrial and institutional facilities are deploying the latest communications and connectivity. And as they do, they need security. For the systems integrator with expertise in software and other products that can tie automation, security, video and access control together, opportunities abound.


Project Specs
Key Partners: MTA; Siemens Building Technologies; Symmetric Interconnect Systems
Key Suppliers: AMAG Technology—Symmetry
Security Professional Security Management System and Symmetry Enterprise Networked Video System; SBT building management and automation software; and Pelco cameras.


Hand Warmers for Keypads
Readers deployed in the cold climate at the remote huts host a wired heating strip to stay operational. The heating strip adheres to the inside of the reader with a weatherproof gasket kit and is wired to battery power. An inverter converts the 48 DC from the battery plant to 110 AC to run the panel transformers. The transformers consist of one 18V AC to run the panel and one 24V AC to run the locks and heating strip.