Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal partners with DES for security after FEMA grant
PACT's relationship with Dagostino Electronic Services began in 2014 after PACT was awarded funding to install a security system as part of a grant from FEMA.
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Allegheny County Thermal (PACT) is a steam distribution facility located across the Allegheny River from PNC Park in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.
PACT pumps steam heat as a clean energy source throughout the city through various tunnels and pipe lines.
PACT’s relationship with Dagostino Electronic Services (DES) began in 2014 after PACT was awarded funding to install a security system as part of FEMA’s Port Security Grant Program.
In exchange for the grant, FEMA has access to three cameras on PACT’s roof overlooking the Allegheny and Ohio rivers. FEMA controls the cameras and uses them to monitor Pittsburgh’s waterway system. PACT applied for the grant because it was a great opportunity for them to increase their own security.
“With our location on Fort Duquesne Boulevard, and the sightlines we had available, an opportunity arose,” Tim O’Brien, project and safety manager for PACT, explained.
Today, PACT has 22 security cameras. Exterior cameras monitor access to and from the plant. One keeps a watchful eye on the entrance to PACT’s 1.5-mile tunnel system. One of three cameras on PACT’s roof overlooking the Allegheny and Ohio rivers controlled by FEMA.
The tunnels, with more than six miles of pipe, run underground and distribute the steam heat to PACT’s customers including the county jail, the city’s convention center and hotels, banks and restaurants throughout the city’s Golden Triangle area.
PACT’s security system is monitored 24 hours a day, seven day a week with Genetec Security Center.
“The system itself is very user friendly. It’s very customizable,” said O’Brien.
In addition to the security system, PACT partnered with DES during the renovation and relocation of their corporate offices, now located on the 10th floor of their Fort Duquesne Boulevard plant.
DES upgraded the facility’s data and wireless networks, and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise phone system, adding conferencing capabilities.
“DES was good about making sure we had the right equipment to serve the right purpose for what we wanted to do,” O’Brien said.
Built in the early 1900s, PACT’s building is predominately concrete and steel so getting a strong Wi-Fi signal was challenging. But, after the addition of several access points strategically placed throughout the plant, O’Brien says the signal went “through the roof.”
He also credits DES with making the transition seamless. “They were very flexible with scheduling and made sure we stuck to the timeline to make sure that when the office moved happened there were no hiccups,” he said.
Another benefit to working with DES? The ongoing training and support system.
“[DES] did a good job not only training us but teaching us to train. I think that’s a huge feature you don’t see with a lot of other companies,” O’Brien said. “DES stays around and will continue to answer questions in the future. Even when a project is finished, it’s never really finished. There’s always something that comes up that you need to learn, or you need to learn how to do or need to have solved, and they do a good job of responding very quickly.”
The ongoing partnership is something O’Brien plans to continue.
He concluded, “I would recommend DES for numerous reasons. The main one is always going to be it’s nice when you get a system in that works. It’s reliable, and the support is reliable.”