Jun 1, 2002 12:00 PM

In the middle of the night, something breaks an infrared beam protecting the perimeter of a critical data center for the United Kingdom operations of TSYS, the largest third-party processor of international card payments. Immediately, halogen lamps on top of the building light the area. The access control system records an alarm and displays the camera with a view of the site on monitors thousands of miles away in Georgia. There, security associates can determine whether police response is required. In this case, it is nothing more than a cat on its nightly prowl.

Taking advantage of advances in systems integration, TSYS is able to provide a high level of security for its employees and property from a continent away.

TSYS updated its access control system to Software House's C?CURE 8000 in January. Along with the upgrade, TSYS added C?CURE NetVue to provide a link between the access system and its recently-added Intellex Digital Video Management System from Tyco Fire & Security's Video Systems. Using the company's existing Wide Area Network (WAN), video can now be matched to any access control alarm event.

NetVue allows security managers to click on access events to display video from remote cameras, and video recorded on the Intellex unit can be located for playback and review. Images can then be exported into any standard file format in order to print a still image or to e-mail a clip. "This system has proven to be very effective for us," says Wayne Smith, assistant vice president of security technologies for Synovus, a diverse financial services company that owns a majority interest in TSYS.

Founded in 1983, TSYS serves more than 228 million cardholder accounts for many of the world's largest banks and retailers. The company is the largest processor of card payments, including credit, debit, private-label, stored-value and chip cards. Based in Columbus, Ga., TSYS also operates offices in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan. Most of TSYS's administrative and support facilities are based in Columbus. The corporate headquarters is located at a campus facility, with more than 500,000 square-feet of office space in three interconnected buildings. The campus employs about 2,200 people.

TSYS also has a three-building complex and two other buildings that serve as corporate data centers and a 1,000-employee call center in Columbus. Another 20 support buildings in the city, employing from 25 to 200 people, provide space for client services, facility management, security, maintenance and human resources.

Buildings for programmers and systems support personnel are located in Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla. TSYS also operates data center/client support facilities in the UK and Mexico. Both the UK and Mexican sites have parking lots that are gated and require an access card for entry, as do three parking garages located with the Columbus facilities. A 50-employee Canadian facility, used for operations support, is also included on the security system. More than 10,500 employees are protected by the combination of access control and video surveillance components.

There are no general public entries to any of the buildings on the security system. Visitors are required to enter at each building's security entrance, sign in, leave identification, receive a temporary badge and then be escorted throughout the facility by a TSYS employee. Most of the larger buildings have a security associate on duty at all times. At the smaller sites, receptionists serve a security function and sign in visitors. Employees are expected to wear their identification badges at all times while at work. Due to corporate and banking regulations, there are a number of time, date and location restrictions placed on each badge. Smith estimates about 750 different clearance codes are administered by his department.

At the larger Columbus facilities, the security department operates four badging stations. At each station, one of two full-time badging administrators takes employee pictures, which are stored on the network server, and then prints the badges. According to Smith, a minimum of 100 new badges are made each month, in addition to numerous deletions and clearance changes.

More than 500 video surveillance cameras, a mixture of pan/tilt/zoom and fixed models from Philips, are used to monitor building perimeters, entries and critical operations areas. For example, the card processing facility, where credit cards are made, is monitored by 80 cameras. Most of the cameras are connected to the security system by fiber optic cable. On the main campus, a mixture of fiber and coaxial cable is used to link about 70 cameras.

In most areas, multiplexers and VCRs process the video, but Smith said plans have begun to replace the multiplexers and VCRs with Intellex units offering multiplexing and digital recording in one unit. Currently, there are four Intellex units being used three in Columbus and one in the UK facility. One of the Georgia units is used at a 300-child daycare center at the TSYS main campus. Each of the facilities with an Intellex unit can review video from any of the similarly equipped sites by using the TSYS WAN.

Two of the Intellex units are archived to digital audiotape (DAT), and the information is stored for up to one month. However, two of the newer Intellex units come with 400 gB hard drives, which allow up to six months of recording. Smith said the units are set to record only on motion within the camera field or on alarm activation from the access system. When the hard drive is full, the system begins to record over the oldest sections first.

Using the WAN, security associates located at four security stations in Columbus can view access control alarm information and video from the surveillance cameras. The UK and Mexican facilities also have their own security centers. Within each of the Georgia security stations, officials can monitor all of the U.S. sites on the system, as well as the building in the UK, and take appropriate action as deemed for an alarm situation. Sometimes, response orders may be duplicated. "It can sometimes be a free-for-all, but we would rather have too many responses, than none at all," Smith says.

In addition to the C?CURE 8000, the access control portion of the system includes 850 card readers, 115 Software House apC 8X (advanced processing controllers) and two Software House iSTAR units, with more planned for the future. The iSTAR is an intelligent, modular controller, designed to integrate various event management applications on one controller to provide ease of installation and interoperability among applications. Using iSTAR, database event-directed actions can be downloaded to the controller from the host, enabling local management of events such as door lock/unlock.

Fire and burglary panels from Radionics are installed and integrated into the C?CURE system. The panels are used to protect the various corporate facilities, as well as 15 executive homes in the Columbus area. Also, 11 hand geometry readers from Recognition Systems are installed as extra control of access to the highly sensitive data centers.

With such a large system, there is always new equipment being added, Smith says. TSYS maintains a four-person Security Electronics Department that handles all the wiring and other installation needs. "We will be changing the makeup of the system with more digital recorders and other advanced equipment, but right now, we have a system that meets our needs and has performed very well," Smith said.

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