Government Contracting: Success Story - Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center

Nov. 1, 2013
Contractor deploys unified security system for new courthouse facility

In addition to nearly 30 judges, more than 1,400 people work in the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, which opened in Dec. 2012. The 695,000-plus square-foot complex houses the Colorado Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court Law Library and the other legally related agencies serving the State of Colorado.

The complex features a four-story courthouse facility with a 3,800 square-foot interactive judicial learning center, and a 12-story office building connects to the courthouse and includes a conference center and a data center. On any given day, 500 or more visitors pass through one of two secure entrances to conduct business. Needless to say, security is of primary importance for this government facility; and, officials have crafted an integrated security system that includes access control, surveillance, duress and visitor management united under a sophisticated security management system.

“Without question, this is the most advanced security set-up in any court building in Colorado, and perhaps in the country,” says Steven R. Steadman, Director of Court Security for the Colorado Judicial Branch. Steadman performed the security assessments, established objectives for the new building, and oversaw the installation of the integrated security system by St. Louis-based Guarantee Electrical Contracting, which also installed the structured cabling, CATV, data, network data, fiber optic and completely built the data center. In fact, a Guarantee Electrical employee from its Denver branch office works full-time within the facility to help maintain its operation and ensure all systems are operating efficiently.


The System’s Backbone

AMAG Technology’s Symmetry Homeland Security Management System (SMS) provides the access control and backbone of the integrated system. The SMS is monitored by the Colorado State Patrol Dispatch in its offsite Communications Center. Onsite, the Colorado State Patrol also oversees the in-house Communications Center, provides the security officers and Troopers for the building, and monitors the access control and camera surveillance.

The SMS enables security staff to schedule automatic locking and unlocking of exterior and some interior doors to provide enhanced security.

“We use the Symmetry Homeland SMS to regulate where folks can be in the building,” Steadman explains. “The building houses the state public defender and prosecutor, and it’s important that their spaces are kept separate. Access to justices, judges and the courtroom are controlled by the SMS, as well as all back-of-house areas like the loading dock and garage. It effectively and efficiently keeps them separated.”

The building cannot afford security downtime, so NEC Fault Tolerant (FT) servers ensure the SMS is up and running continuously. They are designed to provide extreme availability by using fully redundant system components and can provide continuous availability even in the event of a system failure. The servers provide complete redundancy for all of the system components, including the motherboard, CPU, RAM and power supplies. It uses a proprietary lockstep technology to keep all of the duplicate system components completely in synch. This lockstep technology ensures that the redundant CPUs are executing exactly the same instructions. Because redundant components are all completely in synch all of the time, there is no interruption in processing even if a component fails.

“AMAG’s Symmetry Homeland SMS was the right choice for the Ralph Carr building,” says Mike Anthony, Guarantee Electrical’s Project Manager. “The end-user is thrilled with all the functionality.”


Visitor Management

The facility’s two main entrances feature metal detectors, x-ray machines and optical turnstiles to ensure employees and visitors are properly screened before entering the building. Optical turnstiles with readers enable employees to enter without going through the metal detectors or having x-ray screening; however, the employee screening stations at each entrance are closely monitored by the Colorado State Patrol to ensure that the person using the access card is the same person entering the building. Electronic card readers are installed in the elevators and enable employees to access only the floors where they are authorized.

AMAG’s SMS integrates with HID Global’s EasyLobby Secure Visitor Management (SVM) system to register visitors and give them access to predetermined floor levels or areas where they are allowed to go. The software was chosen for its easy-to-use, web-enabled registration process, and it can read the magstripe on a driver’s license, which pre-populates the input fields and provides the name and address of the person — thus expediting the badge creation process. Tenants can easily pre-register guests using a webpage.

A temporary barcode badge is issued and the visitor is granted access to the designated floor and lobby of where they are visiting. The barcoded visitor badge is activated through EasyLobby’s software integration with the Symmetry SMS to allow for specified access, such as provisional access in which the badge should remain active. Eight HID Global multiCLASS readers stationed in the office tower and elevators contain a barcode reader as well. Visitors must swipe their barcoded visitor badge in the designated readers to gain access to the pre-determined areas or floors. Once the visitor enters the lobby of the tenant they are visiting, they are escorted throughout their space.

“There are many unique aspects of integrated security at work in this building,” says Mike Anthony, Guarantee Electrical’s Project Manager. “The SMS makes it easy to bring all of the functionality together on a single platform.”



Cameras are stationed around the full perimeter of the building, in the corridors, entryways, freight elevator, parking facilities, data center and communications room. AMAG’s Symmetry Video Management system integrates with Milestone XProtect Corporate 5.0 to provide enhanced video management and archiving. Video analysis of recordings provides evidence and valuable review of security issues, and activity is called up via Symmetry Video for live viewing.

Approximately 285 Axis megapixel cameras are stationed throughout the building, and 20 indoor/outdoor cameras have been enhanced by integrating real-time video analytics capabilities provided by Agent Video Intelligence (Agent Vi). On these cameras, Agent Vi’s real-time detection software, Vi-System, detects suspicious objects, unauthorized entry into secure zones and loitering, and generates alerts that are displayed in both the Milestone XProtect Smart Client and in Symmetry. The Colorado State Patrol respond to these alerts in real-time, enabling immediate response to security breaches as they unfold.


Future Expansion

The building plans to add 40 card readers, and expand the system to an off-site six-story parking garage that originally had a different access control system. Users will need to swipe their badge to enter and park their vehicles.