Sallie Mae Buys Into Standardized Access Platform

When Sallie Mae, the nation’s No. 1 financial services provider specializing in education, sought to implement a companywide enterprise-level access control solution it invested its faith and confidence in The Protection Bureau (TPB). The Exton, Pa.-based security integrator was brought on to standardize Sallie Mae’s many locations, each operating different access systems, tying them all together through an integrated platform that would enable coordinating security efforts from a central operation center.

The solution would help the client safeguard financial and proprietary information for servicing its 25 million customers who save, plan and pay for college, as well as 6,800 employees spread across the United States. TPB is as well known for building partnering relationships with customers and colleagues as it is for its vaunted security expertise and reliability. Like much of the integrator’s business, those factors played a key role in landing the Sallie Mae project.

“Our sales manager had worked with Sallie Mae’s vice president of asset protection, Kevin Smith, when he was at Chevy Chase Bank,” says TPB President and COO J. Matthew Ladd. “He reached out for some assistance based upon his desire to work with a local integrator with the ability to handle enterprise-level projects.”

Beginning the design-build project with an initial takeover of the access and video surveillance system at the end user’s Newark, Del., headquarters, TPB embarked on a job that would allow the company to be recognized as a finalist for SSI’s 2013 Integrated Installation of the Year. The total scope would include more than 350 card readers, in excess of 400 cameras and monitored intrusion detection.

Standardizing Access Control

The Sallie Mae enterprise conversion involved 20 sites with existing access control systems across the country to a Software House C-CURE 9000 platform. The conversion of video surveillance at each location to a standardized American Dynamics (AD) HDVR facilitated the ability to expand using IP video while still being able to use existing analog cameras. Monitoring of all access and video is accomplished through a centralized command center with backup alarm monitoring through Bosch alarm panels monitored by TPB.

Hundreds of doors of access control and thousands of users are controlled through one system and one central operations center. C-CURE’s photo ID allowed the client to deploy a standard badge format among all sites and employees. Turnstiles were also installed at multiple sites including optical, barrier arm, and glass door styles. Using Tyco brands Software House and AD helped provide smooth integration of access and video systems.

The top challenges for TPB were the geographic sprawl of the project and a short timeframe to complete the initial buildings. A few critical factors helped the integrator deal with those issues. First, the firm has a history providing integrated systems for clients with multiple locations and gets additional support via membership in Security-Net. Second, TPB worked closely with Sallie Mae’s security personnel, facilities managers and IT department for system implementation. Third is TPB’s general approach, as Ladd details below.(l-r) Sallie Mae’s Joseph Pierce, security operations manager and Kevin Smith, vice president asset protection, with Josh Baker, security consultant for The Protection Bureau in the master control room of the client’s Wilmington, Del., location.

“We strive for 95% of the project coordination to be done upfront in the beginning,” he says. “This prepares us ahead of time with the proper implementation strategy, equipment and staff to ensure a seamless installation regardless of the location. At each site, we used a three-pronged approach of site review, job start-up and job acceptance. We went over each part of the system down to the component level before handing it over to the customer.”

In It for the Long Haul

During 2012, 17 Sallie Mae locations were seamlessly converted. Ongoing system expansion, support and monitoring continue to strengthen the alliance. “We appreciate how The Protection Bureau has taught us to use our new access control system in lieu of us calling them every time we need a report,” says Sallie Mae’s Smith. “They have taught us how to fish, instead of delivering a fish every time we get hungry. The project managers have a professional work ethic, and tremendous response to each other’s needs and that of the client.”

Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent nearly 15 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at

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