Let There Be Security
Victory World Church near Atlanta receives a scalable security solution that allows the megachurch to upgrade its legacy system over time while providing remotely managed, IP-based CCTV and access control for its satellite facility. The project highlights the specialized needs and opportunities in the houses of worship vertical.
Where once houses of worship may have been targeted by petty thieves looking to pilfer cash donations, these open and trusting spaces are increasingly being vandalized for much larger bounty. Many churches, for example, have grown considerably larger in recent decades and now commonly outfit their facilities with sophisticated A/V equipment and other expensive electronics. Protecting these organizations, which oftentimes have multiple buildings or even campuses, can be more like securing a commercial enterprise.
One such example is Victory World Church in Norcross, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, which recently sought ways to protect and accommodate its more than 8,500 members, 850 volunteers and staff across two campuses.
For a unique perspective into serving the houses of worship market niche, let’s take a look at the cost-effective, scalable security solution a local systems integrator provided to Victory to meet its life-safety needs. The remotely managed solution includes audible alarms, key swipe cards for sensitive areas, remote video guarding capabilities and greatly simplified access control management.
Unique Needs of a Megachurch
Husband and wife pastoral team Dennis and Colleen Rouse began their ministry in the 1990s preaching to six people in a small apartment, all the while with a vision to vastly grow the flock. And grow it did. Today the main campus of their Victory World Church comprises four buildings, including an elaborate sanctuary, administrative offices, a school, an auditorium, plus other classrooms and facility offices.
Throughout the nondenominational church’s rapid growth, electronic security has been increasingly deployed, including video surveillance and access control, to safeguard the property and its legions of worshipers. Only recently, however, has the church deployed new technologies that allow for IP-based, integrated life-safety systems. Helping the church modernize its security solutions is Remote Protection Systems, a full-service commercial systems integrator based in Atlanta.
Working across a range of commercial market verticals, Remote Protection Systems has methodically developed the houses of worship niche during the past several years to include about 25 large clients (see sidebar below). The firm was first contracted by Victory World Church about four years ago.
Like other houses of worship, Victory World Church’s security needs are unique in that some parts of the facilities necessarily need to evoke an open and welcoming aesthetic, while other areas require tightly controlled access. Deciding on the right mix of overt and subtly-deployed protection requires a deeply consultative approach with the client, says Remote Protection Systems President Scott Hightower.
“We spend a lot of time with them talking about how people flow through their facilities. Then based on everything that we have learned we make our recommendations for controlling which doors and putting cameras in the appropriate locations. There is a lot more of that kind of consultation with houses of worship than at a typical commercial business,” he says.
Providing flexibility into the design of security applications for a campus-wide house of worship is central. “They want people to be able to come in and out of certain areas freely, but then there are areas like the finance department where they keep cash collections,” Hightower says. “They want to take extra care to protect it.”
Robust Video, Security Capabilities
In April, Remote Protection Systems began installing security systems at a newly renovated satellite campus for Victory World Church in Buford, Ga., which will serve an additional 1,500 parishioners. Located about 25 miles from the main campus, Hightower’s assignment was to design a solution that would integrate the latest technology at the new site with legacy systems at the church’s main campus.
“In a church environment, which is a nonprofit organization, we have to be really careful on how we spend money,” says Dennis James, who has served as the church’s security director for 12 years. “We have the new system at the new building and my goal is to eventually get that system at the main campus as well. But it’s a process of getting there.”
To meet his client’s desire for a cost-effective, scalable solution, Hightower chose a platform by Honeywell that would leverage the manufacturer’s security, video surveillance and access control products and software packages.
“On the main campus, we had installed a number of Honeywell products over the years, including 88 surveillance cameras and those are all connected to six Honeywell DVRs,” Hightower says. “They have remote access software loaded on multiple PCs [at the main campus]. So now, by adding the Honeywell DVR at this new building, they can use the exact same software and integrate the ability to view that video remotely without having to make any major changes to what’s already installed.”
The video platform at the new site is based on the HRSD Series DVR, which receives feeds from 16 indoor/outdoor high-resolution infrared dome cameras. The analog solution, using coaxial cable, was chosen in large part to also maintain system familiarity for the end user.
James oversees a small security staff that operates out of a security command center 24/7 on the main campus where video feeds and other life-safety systems are monitored.
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