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DES Secures Surveillance at McKnight Properties in the Heart of Downtown Pittsburgh

Three commercial real estate buildings located in downtown Pittsburgh required a unified surveillance solution.
Mar 19, 2020

The Oliver Building, Heinz 57 and the Smithfield Building, located in downtown Pittsburgh, are three expansive commercial real estate properties owned by McKnight Realty Partners. The buildings are home to multiple first-class tenants who span retail, hospitality, healthcare, professional services and higher education. UPMC, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and the Embassy Suites are a few of their tenant roster.

Brooke Brown is senior property manager for these buildings. She ensures that the facilities run smoothly and understands that security is paramount to the tenants’ experience. Over time, she detected a consistent vulnerability in the buildings’ security fabric. The Oliver Building had an unmanned and manual freight entrance that was in constant use. Delivery drivers would buzz on an intercom which would alert the security officer located at the front entrance to the building. The officer would then leave his post to operate the freight door, causing that front entrance to be exposed to any drifters coming off the streets. Understandably, an unmanned security desk in the building’s front lobby was not reassuring for tenants and presented a legitimate safety matter.

Another concern was the quality of perimeter surveillance on the Heinz 57 and the Smithfield Buildings. The buildings used analog surveillance cameras that did not provide sharp imagery. Aside for the obvious hinderance, by being prominent downtown buildings, local law enforcement would approach Brooke with requests to survey their footage of the surrounding streets. But the footage was of such poor quality, it was impossible to make out facial recognition. “I wanted to create a safer community for our tenants,” explained Brooke, “Our first line of defense is security.”

DES installed an HID EntryProx keypad that is networked from the freight door of the Oliver Building to the security desk situated in the front lobby. Authorized delivery people can punch in an access code and monitor their own deliveries. Meanwhile, the security officer can view and communicate with delivery agents directly from his desk and operate the freight door remotely.

Mapping out the downtown intersection, DES wired four globe cameras on the exterior of the Heinz 57 and Smithfield Buildings. Each camera, manufactured by our partner Axis, is equipped with multi sensors that provide a 360° vision including beneath the camera itself. Using Genetec software, the cameras are networked to a unified command center and provides multiple angles that can be viewed simultaneously on a dedicated screen. A single security officer can monitor the full perimeter of these two block-length buildings. “I can see everything!” Brooke exclaimed, “I can see what lipstick they’re wearing. I can zoom in and see exactly what is happening around our building.”

Brooke describes her experience with DES as “connection” – a relationship that seeks the best solutions and mutual satisfaction. “I could speak in my property management layman terms,” she explained, “I could say, ‘I don’t know what I want, but give me this’ and they were able to provide a solution.”

As a busy property manager, Brooke works with multiple contractors and juggles countless jobs. When working with DES, Brooke felt no pressure to proactively manage her contract—instead, she received regular updates about the progress of the work. Once the project was over, DES approached Brooke for feedback wanting to know if the equipment was operating as it should. Brooke described how her security personnel encountered an end-user error while operating the new dashboard, and a DES technician arrived on scene within a day to provide client support.

Would Brooke recommend DES to others? “Absolutely!”

DES’ four business units – structured cabling, security, networks and cybersecurity, multimedia and AV – make us a robust partner in equipping commercial real estate with advanced technology. Call us today to consult with an account specialist about your needs.

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