Harris County, Texas, the third most populous county in the U.S., is deploying a new, next-generation security system in its buildings that will help make them more efficient and easier to operate. The new system replaces multiple, disparate systems by integrating access control, security cameras, alarms and monitoring across the county’s nearly 150 buildings situated over 1,777 square miles in Houston and the surrounding areas.
Texas-based security integrator, ESI Fire and Security Protection, worked with Harris County to identify its needs and implement a streamlined security platform using Honeywell’s Pro-Watch Intelligent Command security management system to network video recorders, video cameras, thermal readers and thermal cameras. The new system provides detailed, real-time information about alarm events, access and safety across the county.
“The security and well-being of the Harris County employees, visitors and residents is always a top priority,” said retired Maj. Gen. Rick Noriega, interim executive director, Harris County Universal Services. “This project allowed us to improve our systems and gain better insights into the county’s buildings to provide a safer environment. The solutions... also better set the county up for the future – we can test and actively add technologies to address new needs with this flexible but scalable system.”
Before the upgrade, each county building used different security products that didn’t talk to one another, creating an overly complicated network and increased work for employees.
Immediate benefits for the county include:
- Saving taxpayer dollars through better analytics that reduce false alarms and help first responders.
- Monitoring from a single central control station for improved situational awareness.
- Creating healthier building environments by leveraging people-counting technologies and analytics to manage health and safety compliance, such as social distancing.
- Streamlining systems to create operational efficiencies and save the county resources that can be redirected to other critical infrastructure or services.
Harris County Universal Services is looking into deploying next-level biometrics solutions from IDEMIA to enhance access control at the courthouse. Using facial recognition, a camera mounted on the entrance turnstiles will recognize employees and frequent visitors, such as judges and lawyers, using data stored in the ProWatch system without the need to physically scan a badge or remove facial coverings. This frictionless access system will allow employees and visitors to enter the building in an efficient and secure manner.
This system can also alert a precinct when a public park is reaching capacity and monitor building occupancy levels to comply with local health regulations. Harris County is actively testing and implementing new features that will add additional capabilities countywide. The upgrades are designed to proactively manage situations and respond faster when required.
“Harris County lacked a holistic, real-time view into its various facilities with its previous systems,” said James Humbert, business development manager, ESI. The partnership, Humbert adds, created a "positive change in just about every way the county operates by improving intelligence and transparency, reducing response times and helping to save taxpayers’ dollars.”
Rick Koscinski, general manager, North America, Honeywell Commercial Security, says. “With a county as large as Harris County, it was no surprise that they had multiple, disconnected systems put in place over the years which limited efficiency and connectedness. Now the county has a fully customized solution that is built to evolve with its needs that will not only help increase safety and awareness but also create an improved building experience for its employees and building visitors.”
With a population of nearly five million people, Harris County employs more than 15,000 workers to support its residents with services including public safety, jails, law enforcement, courts, library services and licensing facilities.