Best of the Best: Higher Education Integration

When the number of full-time, working individuals seeking to earn a higher education degree increased, John Sperling had an idea to make it easier for them to accomplish that goal. In 1973, he started the Apollo Group, which offers distinctive education programs and services through its subsidiaries, including the University of Phoenix, the educator’s flagship institution.

Based in Phoenix, the group’s primary data center, which houses the personal information of more than 400,000 students, required renovation and a major security overhaul. The existing solution was made up of a simple access control system and surveillance cameras at the main entrance. Inside the data center, where the most critical information is stored, only three cameras were in place.

Apollo Group administrators approached Naperville, Ill.-based Stanley Convergent Security Solutions (CSS) in the summer of 2010 with a request to design and a system that fit the educator’s expanding security needs. Accordingly, the 2012 Integrated Installation of the Year finalist provided an integrated access control, video surveillance and intrusion detection system at Apollo Group campus.

Addressing and Meeting End User’s Requests

Before the project began in August 2010, Stanley CSS assembled an 11-member project support team. The crew included Shawn Mosier, senior national account manager, and Dan Bitcon, senior security consultant, who assessed Apollo Group’s specific security needs. The duo learned that the end user wanted to monitor the perimeter and exterior of the data facility. Administrators also sought to upgrade the cameras that monitored the confidential data center to a high-security biometric mantrap system. Other requests included the ability to lock down both the perimeter and interior access controlled doors, as well as completely mask the external building identification.

So, the installation team began designing an efficient system that met all FERPA, OSHA, NEC and NFPA electrical and building codes. Apollo Group also had its own corporate standards that Stanley CSS had to meet.

Coordinated Effort Tames Installation Challenges

To address those issues, Stanley CSS installed 250 Bosch and Honeywell cameras and a management solution that allows the Apollo Group security team to view live or recorded video on all cameras. Additionally, the integrator deployed Gunnebo SpeedStile EP style turnstiles to control traffic flow, reduce tailgating and keep count of daily traffic in and out of the building housing the data center. In mantrap areas, users can only gain access by means of multiple identification technologies and only one door can be opened at a time. Access cards help validate authorized access to the facility and document key events.<p>The project strengthened physical security of the building housing the primary data center, added additional security layers and controls to mitigate threats and risks, and increased the data center’s security access levels.</p>

An intrusion detection system consisting of glass-breaks and door contacts rounds up the integrated solution. Apollo Group’s security officers monitor the platform through the end user’s security operations center (SOC). Stanley CSS remained in close contact with the Apollo Group team during the installation as the renovation proved to be a major hurdle for the electronic security contractor. As a result, Stanley scheduled daily walk-throughs of the jobsite for the end user and weekly consultations with the general contractor and Apollo Group representatives.

“It was absolutely vital that the Apollo Group keep our team updated on the building plans,” says Mike Bishop, vice president of field operations, Stanley CSS. “That allowed us to make sure there were no security traps within the building that prevented the system from functioning properly.”

Client’s Satisfaction Leads to More Jobs

Pleased with the deployed solution in the data center building, administrators asked Stanley to provide similar systems throughout the site. “Upon completion of the data center project, we installed integrated solutions to protect the University of Phoenix’s new John Sperling Center for Educational Innovation,” says Mosier. “That included a six-story corporate office, a multifloor parking structure and a 10-story building on the Apollo Group campus.”

The entire $1.2 million project, including the additional three structures, wrapped in April 2011 — on time and on budget. As of this writing, no incidents had occurred since the system’s deployment, which has led to a stronger partnership between Apollo Group and Stanley CSS.

“We now have complete confidence that we have one of the most secure data centers in the world,” says Mark Battilana, director of corporate security, Apollo Group. “Our high-tech, high security environment was the result of Stanley’s diligence and hard work. We are extremely pleased with the end result.”

Ashley Willis is Associate Editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.

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