High-tech security systems team up with environmental design at military site
High-tech security systems team up with environmental design at military site

Oct 1, 2000 12:00 PM

In the center of Key West, Florida, 90 miles from Cuba, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and just a stone's throw away from Ernest Hemingway's home and President Harry Truman's "Little White House," stands a four-building Department of Defense compound primarily dedicated to fighting drug smuggling activities. The intelligence gathered in these offices is responsible for intercepting $1.25 million of cocaine per day.

Called JIATF East (for Joint Interagency Task force East), the compound has been served by an Ultrak SAFEnet access control system with over 100 card readers for nearly seven years. The readers are reconfigured daily to accommodate changes in personnel and confidentiality classifications, and the Ultrak system has been upgraded over the past year and one-half. Extra procedures exist for entry into SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) areas, such as entry logs and PIN numbers.

But, as the face of world terrorism changed in the past decade, with bombings at places such as the World Trade Center in New York, the federal building in Oklahoma City, and the military complex at Khobar Towers, near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, JIATF East security experts took a good, hard look at security and the approximately 2,500-foot perimeter and decided greater protection was necessary.

Among the concerns shared by Alan Mather, Security Manager, Terry Campbell, Senior Electrical Engineer, and the military's top brass: "You could park right next to the buildings, which were built in the late 50s and had not been changed," says Mather. "With the change in the dynamics of terrorism, we knew we needed better protection for our periphery."

Moreover, mail and small shipments came directly to the compound, with larger shipments directed eight miles away to Naval Air Station Key West at Boca Chica Key.

"We wanted to keep deliveries away from the main compound, and to have a set back distance so vehicles could not park right next to the buildings. This stand- off distance is a key element in the Force Protection program being implemented at U.S. military bases and installations worldwide," adds Mather.

"The impetus for this project began in April, 1997, when then Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff, General Shelikasveli, in the aftermath of the Khobar Towers bombing, directed Combatant Commanders to conduct anti-terrorism/Force Protection assessments of their subordinate commands," says Mather.

An assembled team examined JIATF East and its recommendations were validated by a subsequent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Protective Design Center study. Rerouting vehicle traffic away from the buildings that house some 350 employees on a 20-acre site was a central focus of the studies.

As a result of these concerns, a security upgrade is being implemented at JIATF East in which vehicular traffic has been set back from the main compound, parking lots secured, mail and large shipments routed to a 3,000 square-foot "trans-shipment" building just under 600 feet from the main compound, and pedestrian traffic controlled by strategically placed turnstiles. RTU's control parking lot and turnstile access points. Pan/tilt/zoom and fixed cameras located at turnstiles, parking lot entry points, and the trans-shipment building are integrated with the Ultrak system.

In addition, five Delta Scientific Barriers have been placed at the front and back of the compound, and at the VIP entrance, also called the Ceremonial Drive. This system includes a laser scanner, barricades, and a magnetic loop. Fiber optic cable carries information from the scanner to the Delta Scientific Master Panel in the Central Command Center.

Despite the concern throughout the U.S. military in general, and at the Key West compound in particular, for an adequate level of force protection, there was another element to the JIATF East situation that both made it more complex and ultimately resulted in a unique solution to the periphery protection issue:

While the compound needed to be secure, for purposes of morale, and to fit in with the existing aesthetics of Key West, it also had to look good. "Typical quick solutions to threats are a fortress approach with Jersey barriers and guard rails," says Mather. "This is unsightly and creates a bunkered morale factor for employees."

The U.S. Navy which, along with the Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, is represented at JIATF East, has plans to build a complex of cottages at Truman Annex, the neighborhood in the vicinity of JIATF East, dedicated to morale, welfare and recreation. Not only did the security plan have to fit in with this mission, but also with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan to transition approximately 60 acres of Truman Annex to the City of Key West.

But, if Mather, Campbell and their staff had done a sterling job so far of outfitting the compound with state-of-the-art electronic security, they were now puzzled about how to similarly secure the periphery and still preserve the aesthetics of Key West. Personnel with security and architectural design expertise were not available on base, and financial resources did not allow for the hiring of a firm specializing in security design.

Mather knew that many of the solutions to the security design problems facing the compound could be found in the principles of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach which has gained in popularity over the past decade. One of the first thorough examinations of the approach was the book, "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Applications of Architectural Design and Space Management Concepts", by Timothy D. Crowe, a criminologist and security consultant.

In January of 1997, Mather sent a letter to Dean R. Wayne Drummond, College of Architecture at the University of Florida, asking for help with the security design project. Dr. Richard Schneider of the University's Urban and Regional Planning Department, accepted the project and assembled an interdisciplinary team of 25 graduate students and four professors, says Mather.

"Professor Schneider used this JIATF East project as a six-week study in his CPTED course and applied the principles beyond Crowe's applications to public housing projects, schools, universities, residences and commercial establishments to a military base concerned with anti-terrorism and force protection measures," says Mather.

And that is how, in April of 1997, five professors and 25 graduate students were flown down to Key West by the U.S. Navy on a Friday evening, given rooms and a stipend for meals, and asked to find an aesthetic, environmentally sound way of protecting a government facility considered increasingly critical in the war on drugs.

The sixteen designs that they prepared, addressing vehicular and pedestrian circulation, secured parking areas, a redesign of the main entrance, and a trans-shipment building were instrumental in allowing JIATF East to secure the initial funding for the site improvements, says Mather. Moreover, many of the key recommendations have been implemented. The students' design concepts, renderings and 3-D model were highly professional, says Mather.

"The idea of having a trans-shipment point to keep mail and deliveries away from the main compound came from one of the CPTED students," says Mather.

The result was a 3,000 square foot building located 575 feet away from the main buildings, with a mezanine for storage, built to hurricane standard to withstand 150-mph winds. The building has four internal and two external DeltaDome cameras, card reader access, and a loading dock.

"This allows us to have deliveries come directly to the area, yet gives us stand-off distance at the same time," says Mather.

"Other ideas recommended by the CPTED students that we have implemented or included in final plans for the project involve landscape areas to prevent off-road access to the compound. The use of palm trees, boulders and other flora will be applied. Planters are being incorporated as attractive barriers. Proper signage and truck turnarounds will keep trucks from entering the parking areas. Bollards will be used to separate the avenue exit from the parking lot, and fences and/or barricades will be used in a parking lot to prevent vehicle access and delineate the BRAC property from the base.

The students also did parking lot counts and made recommendations as to where to expand parking and place pedestrian turnstile points for ease of access from the parking areas into the compound.

"Moreover," continues Mather, "we are implementing the students' recommendation to eliminate parking in front of the main building and landscape this area. The idea of a ceremonial or VIP drive for visitors has also been implemented."

Mather notes that the compound is rarely lacking in visitors, particularly when the weather turns cold in Washington. "We get many two, three and four star Generals, along with Admirals, Congressmen, VIPs, senior decision makers and foreign dignitaries," he says.

But, while Key West might offer government visitors a beautiful retreat from the hectic pace of urban political life, no one questions the seriousness or importance of the work being done at the compound. "We're going against drug cartels which have tremendous amounts of money," notes Mather. "We want a level of security that will protect the people working here, as well as the sensitive information generated."

JIATF East is comprised of active and reserve members from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guards. Government agencies represented include the FBI, DIA, DEA, Customs and Treasury Departments and liaison officers from Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Last year, well over 100 metric tons of cocaine was seized, destroyed or disrupted due to the agency's efforts.

In addition to armed forces and civilian employees, special skills' contractors are also located on site and Mather notes, "The teamwork between representatives of all these different agencies is great!"

At the heart of the security program at JIATF East is the Ultrak SAFEnet access control system, programmed to delineate a complex array of security classifications. The system is comprised of a primary and redundant file server, pre-processors (PPU's), and Remote Terminal Units (RTU's), all connected by fiber optics. There is a network of some 145 indoor and outdoor Ultrak card readers.

"We've been running the Ultrak system for seven years, and upgraded it a year ago," explains Terry Campbell, JIATF East's Senior Electrical Engineer. "It's a very complicated system which allows for access control for different confidentiality classifications for different areas, and at different times of the day. The Ultrak SAFEnet program supports Ultrak card readers, along with a Biometric Veriprint V2100 fingerprint verification system. There is a data base capability to run a variety of reports, which we use extensively.

"The access control system is also used for intrusion detection," continues Campbell, "with motion detectors, door contacts and alarms integrated into the system."

An RS 232 interface integrates the CCTV system with the SAFEnet access control program through an American Dynamics Sensormatic 2052 Matrix switcher. When an alarm goes off, a video of the area appears on a monitor dedicated to video call-up, which has been placed above the newly installed APW Stantron 600 series console, which contains ten 20" Sony color monitors.

Information comes into the Ultrak system from indoor and outdoor card readers located in the parking areas, at the pedestrian turnstiles, external and internal entrance doors, and the trans-shipment building.

Cards used are magnetic stripe, produced by an Ultrak SAFEnet badging program and printed on a Fargo Pro L printer. The picture badges all have colors and numbers designating the holder's security clearance.

Because it offers greater security, as well as greater protection against the electrical storms and hurricanes typical of the Florida Keys, fiber optics are used extensively to transmit both video and data both outdoors and indoors.

"We're in Florida, with a harsh weather environment, a lot of rain, high humidity, lots of lightening," explains Mather. "Fiber is less susceptible to damage."

A multi-mode outdoor/indoor fiber is used, buried in the ground in a conduit. A 12-fiber cable stretches between the parking areas and the Central Command Center, carrying video, card reader, scanner, intercom and master override data; while a six-fiber cable stretches between the Command Center and the outdoor turnstiles. The RTU's, which control the card readers, are all indoors and also connected by fiber optics to the Ultrak file server.

Fiber Options and Math Associates converters are used to translate video and data from coaxial to fiber optics and back.

An extensive CCTV infrastructures exists within and around the JIATF East compound, with some 92 cameras, including Cohu, Inc. 1300 series fixed color cameras, and approximately 16 American Dynamics AD616LS Color DeltaDome Autofocus 128x zoom programmable surveillance cameras located in parking areas, the trans-shipment building, at the perimeter around the compound, and at an antenna field.

The CCTV system also includes six American Dynamics ADV1588/16 ChromaPlex Pro multiplexors and six American Dynamics ADR8045 Time Lapse VCRs.

Along with the DeltaDome cameras, external access is controlled by card readers placed at barricades or sliding gates at each of three parking area entrances, the VIP/ceremonial drive entrance, the Philips turnstiles (there will be four when the upgrade is complete this winter), and a 7-foot high chain link fence around the entire compound, approximately 2,500 feet in length.

JIATF East employees have decals affixed to the rear windows of their cars and, upon entering the compound, will first go over a magnetic presence loop imbedded some four to six inches into the asphalt. This twisted wire detects metal and powers an Industrial Scan bar code scanner mounted on a pedestal. The scanner reads the employees bar code, causing a Delta Scientific TT207SFM Flush Mount Rising Road Barricade to go down, allowing the car to enter the parking area.

If a car without a bar code decal attempts to enter, the driver has the option of using an Ultrak ACT IV card reader for access, by swiping his or her magnetic badge across the reader head. A third option involves an intercom connection with a Stenofon intercom by Stento USA. With this option, a CCTV camera would transmit a picture of the driver to the main guard station, where the driver's identity could be verified. A guard could then employ the master override to allow the driver access. A series of intercom sites exist throughout the compound.

Two of the major integrators who have worked with JIATF East on the security upgrade include Risk Management Associates (RMA) of Raleigh, NC, which helped to install and integrate the external barriers, bar code and card reader system; and Secure USA of Cumming, GA which installed the Delta Scientific barriers. Interface Security Systems, LLC of St. Charles, MO integrated a new Voice and Fire Evacuation system by EST. "This system will provide a `big voice' to alert everyone in case evacuation is necessary," says Mather. "It includes a smoke detector and strobe light, but has a speaker rather than a horn."

Presently in the process of being installed in one building, it will replace the existing fire system in the remaining three buildings in the compound as they undergo renovation. The system will be integrated with the Ultrak SAFEnet system so that, when an alarm goes off, guards will be able to pinpoint the exact floor and room affected.

Mather works with a staff of approximately 12 contract security officers, who cover the facility around the clock. Working at a two-position console which includes a printer, a keyboard for controlling the camera system, and security video monitors, the officers will soon have a master switch for controlling the Delta Scientific barricades at the console as well.

The price tag for protecting the periphery of the JIATF East compound has nearly doubled since funding was first secured in 1999, but the project has developed into one of the jewels of the U.S. Military's Force Protection commitment. With Southwest Microwave perimeter fencing outfitted with a video/alarm system integrated with the Ultrak system, the much improved fire evacuation system, and a trans-shipment building complete with an EG&G Astrophysics LineScan 210 E Scan Baggage Scanner (there is also one in the lobby of the main building at the guard post), the compound is close to achieving the maximum protection possible for its employees, equipment, information and operation.

"We are well on our way to achieving the level of security we need to protect the people who work here and who visit," says Mather, who lives on Key West. And Terry Campbell, who must cross 10 bridges and drive 25 miles from his home on Cudjoe Key to Key West each morning, is equally proud of the way security has been bolstered at the compound.

While Key West may be best known for the divers it draws to its coral reefs and tourists who come to visit homes of such legends as Harry Truman and Ernest Hemingway, this tiny, fabled island also houses a government compound that is fighting an effective war against international drug trade.

With native palm trees and other indigenous flora helping protect its perimeter, JIATF East's approach to its own security may have a low-key facade. But behind the facade are state-of-the art high-tech and environmental security systems that work as well together as the teams of foreign and domestic, military and civilian employees who pass through its gates each day.

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