Breaking new ground at the World Trade Center

SSN interviews WTC security director and security consultants on site
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

NEW YORK—Designing and building the security systems and security operation of the World Trade Center complex is a process that involves a staggering number of stakeholders.

There are government entities, architects, engineers, contractors, and law enforcement—to name a few—and many of them have not worked together before.

The New York Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department, and the Fire Department of New York were among those all working very closely with WTC security.

“There is significant cooperation of agencies, some that have a history of difficulty coordinating in the past,” said Louis Barani, WTC security director.

Barani and the WTC security consultants—Philip Santore, Frank Santamorena, and Brian Coulombe of DVS—met with Security Systems News and Security Director News on Nov. 3.

From a meeting room on the 20th floor of a building that overlooks the 16-acre site, it’s easy for reporters to see ongoing construction and how the individual projects are in vastly different stages of planning, construction or completion.

In some areas, people are working six stories below ground, while others are many stories above ground dismantling a building. Tower 7 is complete, while construction on Tower 1, which will eventually be twice as tall as Tower 7, is underway. The square footprints of the original twin towers are clearly visible. Those will be giant reflecting pools when the project is done.

Not visible is the PATH train which takes commuters from Manhattan across the Hudson to New Jersey, and which runs directly under the site, and must remain operational throughout the project.

In one center, you can see the triangular roof in place on what will become part of the museum. Much of the complex will be completed for a ceremony that will take place here on 9/11/11, the tenth anniversary of the WTC tragedy.

Security is and will be tight, but the complex is also meant to be an open and inviting spot for the public to visit.

When it’s complete, the complex will have 50,000 tenants and Barani expects it will have one million visitors per year, with 1,500 people per hour visiting the museum alone.

It’s the sheer complexity of the project and the fact that so many disparate parties must work together that’s making this project work, fostering innovation and enabling Barani and others to put together a security system that’s “truly bleeding edge,” Coulombe said.

That’s not to say there are no disagreements, Santore said. In fact, working through those disagreements is an essential part of the process.

“You’ve got to have creative contention,” he said. “Without that you’d never come up with these solutions.”

Barani and DVS are particularly proud of the  “PSIM on steroids” (physical security information management) they’ve put together to manage the security operations of the site.

“It’s more than just PSIM, it’s identity management as well,” Barani said. It incorporates the usual PSIM, and much more: video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, vertical transportation (elevators) building management systems (HVAC etc.), visitor management, fire alarm, CBRN (chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear) detection, and intercom, Barani said.

Coulombe said working closely with the integrators enabled the group to collectively come up with a number of creative solutions such as a unique egress system in Tower 7, the brainchild of DVS working in concert with integrator Henry Brothers. The egress system will be installed in all of the towers.

Ingersoll Rand is the integrator for Tower 1. Three months before they began working together, Coulombe began meeting weekly with IR. “It’s a big time commitment to do that, but it’s less work in the long run,” he said. You end up with fewer change orders, and you develop the all-important close working relationship, he said.

DVS and the security operation also maintain close ties with manufacturers. "We have NDAs (non disclosure agreements) with most of them," Santore said. In many ways, the security system is designed to be a work in progress. The security plan includes the integration product categories that won't even be available for a couple of years, he said.

Barani, Santamorena and others are clearly aware of the historical and emotional significance of the project.
"You feel like you're part of bringing something back," Santore said. "Anyone can build tall buildings; this is not the same."

Look for an expanded version of this story, along with photographs next week at www.securitysystemsnews.com.