Facility Fix: Safe Passage
By Jillian Ruffino
Published in the October 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
What is your position? How many years have you been in this profession?
I have been the acting building management systems support manager for Miami International Airport (MIA) for 18 years.
Please describe this project.
This project is part of an ongoing major expansion (including two additional terminals) that will be completed in 2012. We designed and implemented the infrastructure and systems front end interfaces for our terminal wide access control, CCTV, and intercom solutions.
Please describe the decision making and research process for this project.
In 1998, we were tasked with enhancing our security systems at MIA to meet new security threats within the industry. Many systems were evaluated for functionality, dependability, redundancy, and performance. With this data, a performance based specification was developed that was composed of the best qualities of the systems observed during our study.
MIA had an existing access control system in place from Matrix Systems [a Dayton, OH-based manufacturer of security products]. The Matrix Systems’ solution was upgraded to a more current version. We also added other features, such as better CCTV and video recording equipment with qualities and functionalities that fit our security demands and operations. This was the basis for the performance specification.
What was the vendor selection process like? Did you feel limited?
The specification was advertised as an open bid, since it was a performance specification and was not tailored to any specific system. The performance specifications required that every vendor on the bid award provide proof of its equipment’s compatibility with other vendors—even Matrix Systems—during a mock up phase.
To facilitate this, we built a testing facility that was original to the airport business. It was a miniature replica of the entire security system at MIA. While a lot of vendors claimed they could do certain things, this replica made them prove it.
Compatibility between vendors is a potential problem for any facility. Our “Integration Room” allowed vendors to prove to us that their open systems really met the intent of the phrase. This helped us to determine compatibility problems before purchasing.
What benefits have you reaped as a result of this project?
We can better manage the security of our large facility. Our operators have instant access to alarm, video, and intercom information and connectivity by selecting the proper alarm on their workstation. We also have instantaneous playback information of any event for analysis or investigation.
What economic benefits have you reaped as a result of this project?
The integrated systems have allowed greater security surveillance with fewer staff members. They have also provided better law enforcement tools for quicker responses to situations in the terminal.
Did you encounter any unexpected highlights or challenges while implementing this project?
The greatest challenge was working with the general contractor for the project. Unfortunately, the project was bid mainly as a construction project, because we were building distributed equipment rooms throughout the facility. When it came to systems installations and integration, the general contractor was not very experienced with systems and had great battles with the IT professionals to determine what was needed to meet the performance criteria in the specifications.
How did this project require you to change your operations and maintenance practices?
It forced us to retrain our staff to be knowledgeable with IT systems since our older systems were not computer based.
What has been the reaction to the project from upper management and elsewhere in your organization?
The reaction has been positive. The specifications created for this project in 1998 have become standard feature components of many systems in the security market today.
How has the community responded to this project?
There have been several instances in which MIA has responded to incidents or threats in a satisfactory manner. Our systems have been great tools for some of those events.
I think our local community feels that MIA is at the forefront when it comes to making every effort to secure our facility and keep the traveling public safe. We have been praised by the federal government in local and national newspapers.
What was the most professionally rewarding aspect of this project?
Seeing an innovative and cutting edge project through every stage, from concept through design and implementation, was the most rewarding for me.
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