• United States



by CSO Contributor

Security Reaches New Heights

Apr 15, 20052 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Physical Security Visitors to the Sears Tower in Chicago might not think twice about going through metal detectors before entering the 110-story skyscraper. And once inside, though they may not realize it, they’re being monitored by some of the most sophisticated physical and technological systems available.

Carlos Villarreal, national director of security and life safety for Trizec Properties, which managed the Sears Tower until May 2004, spent seven years securing the world’s second tallest building and keeping its 10,000 employees and 15,000 daily visitors safe.

“We’re using our information services technology a lot more now than we were even shortly after 9/11,” Villarreal says.

Electronic visitor registration technology now tracks office visitors. Tenants can preregister guests on a secure tenant portal. Upon arrival, visitors show a government-issued ID and are given an adhesive paper pass that indicates what areas a visitor can access.

After business hours, an imaging system, activated by a swipe card, calls up a photo and information about a worker’s destination. Security officers check photos against the worker’s ID.

A sophisticated security command center inside the building and the entire security program underwent a $6 million modernization in 2002 to update the CCTV monitors that capture images from 130 cameras fixed on lobbies, loading docks, stairwells and the building’s public Skydeck.

Emergency management plans that were once stored in three-ring binders were moved to electronic files housed on a secure Trizec database that could be accessed via the Internet from a remote location.

Villarreal also “keeps a pulse on the country” through an information service offered by emergency monitoring service NC4The National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination. The service monitors emergencies, hazmat conditions, hazards and even traffic patterns and notifies subscribers of events via BlackBerry or PC.

Today, Villarreal secures 52 office buildings from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., with 125,000 inhabitants. He says the scope of security is widening.

“Before 9/11 we were always focused on a local incident. But now we have to think regionally or nationally, depending on the size of the company,” Villarreal says.

Villarreal can call up surveillance camera systems via the Internet at about 10 of Trizec’s properties.

“It’s good for corporate security executives to know what’s happening at their facilities,” Villarreal says. “They can make a quick assessment, dispatch people, start tracking incidences and keep track of their assets.”