Vertical racks were used in the HCGC equipment room.
Minnesota’s Hennepin County recently underwent a complete upgrade to its Security Operations Center (SOC), including custom designed technical furniture to house new security technology being added to county facilities.

Nearly one-fourth of the population of Minnesota lives in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis and its western metropolitan area. It is home to the Hennepin County Government Center (HCGC), the seat of both the county government and the state’s Fourth Judicial District. The HCGC also houses the County Board of Commissioners, county administration, most of the District Court operations, and many county services for the general public.

Located in the HCGC, the SOC is the county’s critical alarm monitoring and emergency communications center and an integral part of Hennepin County’s Property Services Security Division. The SOC is responsible for ensuring the safety of county employees and visitors and the security of county properties.

The Hennepin County Security Operations Center features the Prestige Slim-Line series of modular consoles and a video wall created using 19-inch vertical rack frames

Critical monitoring

The center is the largest and most challenging of the county facilities monitored by the SOC. Its unique design of two towers on top of a common base spanning a major street in downtown Minneapolis, combined with its size – 1.5 million square feet, are contributing factors to the demanding job of securing this facility.

Improvements to the new SOC included updates to video equipment, alarm monitoring systems, security video and intercom systems. Additionally, the new technology created a need for specialized technical furniture that would not only house the technology, but also create a workspace environment that would allow security officers to use it more effectively.

The Winsted Corp. of Minneapolis was chosen to provide the technical furniture and assist in the layout and design of the new SOC. The company had previously worked with HCGC on smaller projects.

Christopher Marra, security operations center supervisor for Hennepin County, oversaw the renovation and relocation of the SOC within the center. Marra was intimately involved in the design phase of the project and worked closely with Winsted project engineers and other vendors to ensure that the new control center would meet the needs of the SOC created by updates to technology and the addition of new security systems to county facilities.

The project consisted of a design for a 1200-square foot control room with several workstations and a video wall, as well as an equipment room.

"We redesigned the look that we wanted several times and Winsted accommodated the changes and gave us renderings of what it would look like before we even said yes or no to it," said Marra.

In addition to Marra and his staff, Winsted worked closely with Paulson & Clark to integrate concepts on spatial design with workstation and video wall designs. The technology for the new SOC was purchased through Videotronix.

Ultimately, the Prestige Slim-Line series of modular control room consoles was chosen. The modular design allowed for flexibility in the console configurations to fit the SOC’s unique needs and space requirements.

The control center was designed to include two complete workstations for dispatchers that would accommodate 12 computers and/or video monitors each. A center peninsula over two file cabinets would separate these main workstations, creating a "W" shape layout.

On the outside end sections custom bookshelves were added to house procedure books and other necessary materials. Winsted also added custom, double-sided equipment panels in the corners of each workstation for mounting additional equipment. A third workstation was created with the addition of a custom laminate corner desk area where an operator can be on the phone or working on several computers.

The consoles also include such features as pullout lower equipment shelves for easy access to CPUs, solid or vented lower doors with a spring latch and lock and large channel wiring ducts with covers for power/cable management.

Video wall

The SOC’s video wall is one of the more impressive features of the control center, consisting of 14 20-inch and two 42-inch flat panel LCDs. John Mooney, of Paulson & Clark, worked with Winsted to create the video wall, which makes the background disappear and only images on the screens appear visible. To accomplish this, the team used only the frames of 19-inch vertical racks, which feature a 4.5-inch depth. The wall was then framed around the rack frames, trim was applied, and the frames and panels were painted black.

The equipment room uses System 85 vertical racks. Modular in design, System 85 vertical racks.

After installation of the furniture was complete, the county’s SOC was able to move from the old control center to the new one. According to Marra, the cutover was completed within 24 hours and went off without a hitch.