Grade A Security for ‘Big D’ Complex
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the sprawling Galleria Dallas shopping center and its new expansive security system live up to that claim. However, what looms largest was the tightly coordinated effort the security consultant, integrator and end user demonstrated to help maximize the facility’s safety.
There is nothing average about Galleria Dallas. Under a magnificent barrel-vaulted glass skylight, the visitor experience is one of a casual city street replete with shopping, cafes, seating and people watching. To ensure the safest possible environment, Galleria Dallas’ proactive management decided to upgrade the facility’s electronic security including the move to IP-based video surveillance.
The action was initiated without the all-too-typical presence of a precipitating event or upward crime trend forcing the decision. Rather the comfort and security of visitors took center stage, and the upgrade was part of a longstanding trend in strategic thinking on the part of management.
“We want people — guests, employees and visitors — to feel that they have arrived at a safe environment,” explains Angie Freed, general manager of Galleria Dallas. “And knowing that the feeling of security and safety is the No. 1 reason people cite in visiting or not visiting a shopping center, we want to make sure they choose us.”
Galleria Dallas already had CCTV located throughout the shopping center, but management wanted to do more and allocated funds for an upgrade. Egg Harbor Township, N.J.-based consulting firm R. Grossman and Associates Inc. (RG&A) was hired to survey the facility, offer recommendations and assess proposals already in hand.
“We wanted an outside expert to evaluate our systems, make suggestions, and make sure we were moving in the right direction,” explains Earl Morgan, director of security for the property and an Andrews Int’l employee. “We are not experts in this; it’s not what we live and breathe every day,” adds Freed.
The scope of the project would entail helping safeguard the complex’s 1.9 million square feet of retail space and more than 200 retail shops. There is also a four-story glassed-in structure featuring an ice skating rink that is home to the nation’s tallest indoor Christmas tree, 10,000 garaged parking spaces and a 4,300-square-foot, award-winning Children’s Play Place.
Following is a first-hand account of how consultant, integrator and end user forged a rock-solid collaborative union to deliver the best possible security design, installation and final solution. The endeavor would prove the axiom that planning pays off, and include hundreds of cameras, several hundred terabytes of data storage, 90,000 feet of conduit in the parking garage alone, and a total cost in excess of $1 million. (Editor’s note: This project’s nondisclosure agreements bar revealing precise equipment locations and quantities.)
Design Calls for IP Cameras, VMS
It was against this backdrop that RG&A set out to design and specify the system. After two site visits and extensive exploration of the massive property, a scope of work was defined and a specification was created around a “wish list.”
“Anytime you are dealing with a project with a fixed budget, there are a number of ambiguities,” says Robert Sprague, RG&A consultant/project manager assigned to Galleria Dallas. “On the one hand, you want to get your client exactly what they’re looking for. On the other, you need to be mindful of the budget; if your design goes over [budget], you don’t want to go to the expense of rebidding the project. And it’s not fair to put the integrators through that.”
The center initially had a number of analog cameras in public areas. These were recorded on GE/Kalatel DVRs installed in data closets located strategically around the property and linked via a fiber-optic backbone. The DVRs handled storage of the recorded images while a Genetec video management system (VMS) was used to view and play back recorded images from a central command center. There were no cameras in the parking garages and the initial focus of the design was to add complete coverage of the 10,000 parking spaces, and redesign the command center to handle the added workload.
As a standard course of business, RG&A designs projects with a base system and a number of option packages or alternates. The base system is the minimum functionality required, and the options traditionally enhance performance or add features.
In the case of Galleria Dallas, the base system included the parking garage cameras and associated storage and video management. Options included the new command center; added coverage for the interior of the shopping center; increased recorded retention time from the baseline; moving all of the existing cameras off of the DVRs and onto the new system; and replacement of the emergency callbox system. The last option was initially going to be a separate project but the prospect of labor savings compelled management to act sooner.
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