Case Study: First American

IC2S customizes and installs advanced, streamlined IP-based surveillance and access control systems for First American Equipment Finance

As a company known for its ability to transform cabling chaos into beautifully organized and accessible cabling systems, IC2S understands the need for both form and function. But when they worked with First American Finance (FAEF) of Fairport, NY, IC2S was tasked with a project requiring demanding specs, scrupulous attention to detail, and an exacting level of aesthetic presentation. In other words, form and function of a higher order.

The undertaking went far beyond a typical cabling project, including an IP surveillance system, high-definition camera and an access control system, along with network wiring for over 700 access points.

About First American Equipment Finance
First American Equipment Finance provides technology financing and asset management solutions to middle market and investment grade corporate borrowers. They help these organizations grow by financing capital purchases, often combining products or services from multiple vendors in one equipment lease. First American is known as an extremely innovative, leading-edge company, serving customers in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico.

A unique environment
FAEF outgrew their existing space on one floor of an office complex in Fairport, a suburb of Rochester, NY. They obtained additional footage on the second floor and began a dynamic renovation and expansion. FAEF, with the help of architectural and other partners, designed a striking, open floor plan with significant amounts of glass, including floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides of many offices.

“Our CEO, William Verhelle, had a vision of our office environment being very bright and spacious, as well as sophisticated and impressive,” said Mark Tomaselli, FAEF’s Chief Information Officer. “He saw extensive use of wood and glass in outer offices, low cube walls in interior areas, a look and feel that complemented the culture of our organization.”

Along with a state-of-the-art environment, FAEF knew they wanted superior technology for communications and security. “Cat6A cabling for high-speed data throughput, IP-based surveillance with high-definition cameras, and a fully integrated access control system were just a few of our requirements,” noted Chris Thibault, Lead Systems Engineer at First American.

While FAEF had an existing relationship with IC2S on cabling needs, they requested bids on the entire project before committing to a supplier. “We received a range of quotes and selected IC2S based on our previous, positive experiences with them and their reputation as a progressive organization, a company that adopts and advocates for new technologies, as we do” said Thibault.

Exacting requirements and aesthetic challenges
While very “clean” installations of the IP-based systems were one challenge, the practical and aesthetic logistics of Cat6A cabling use added to the unique requirements. “The number of drops needed, the significantly larger scale of the cables to run a 10 GB network, our desire to have our server areas appear neat and orderly, all of these increased the demands we put on IC2S,” Tomaselli recalled. “Add in the extensive glass areas and our unwavering wishes for a streamlined appearance with uninterrupted surfaces throughout, and you can see that we truly did ask a lot of IC2S.” To make the project even more demanding, FAEF imposed an aggressive timeline, proposing only two months for installation of cabling and IP-based systems.

Integration of the surveillance system and 1080P cameras with the fob-based IP access control system had to be seamless. It’s a totally networked system with complete interactive capabilities. For employees, a facial recognition reader provides hands-free access in less than one second. The IP surveillance system and high-def cameras deliver larger coverage areas than standard-resolution cameras plus megapixel resolution of great clarity. “Let’s say someone without permission tried to gain access to a door,” Thibault said. “We receive instant notification and can click on the alarm record and view a video of that attempt in high-definition, zooming in to see as much detail as needed.”

Overcoming obstacles with innovation
IC2S’ installation experts had to design and execute multiple strategies to create the function and form needed. Since FAEF wanted to be able to show off their server areas to clients, IC2S achieved beautiful symmetry and cabling organization and access that goes far beyond a server room norm. While not an outstanding achievement with standard cable, doing this with Cat6A is an accomplishment than IC2S’ techs can be proud of.

Due to the extensive volume of glass areas, normal techniques for unobtrusively running cable didn’t work. “We were innovative in many ways,” said IC2S President Robert Estephan. “We ran wire where glass panels joined, mounted readers sideways to minimize their horizontal profile, and sourced and customized materials and solutions to maintain the purity of design.” To make the project even more challenging, solid wood doors on the glass offices do not have frames, they close evenly with the glass. This exacerbated the problems of hiding cabling from view, placing readers unobtrusively, and meeting all security and safety requirements.

One example of clever customization was the creation of a unique push-to-exit button. Normally, based on ordinances, these buttons are mounted about 48 inches high and are highly visible. As FAEF didn’t want these mechanisms to disrupt glass surfaces, IC2S developed a unique and graceful workaround, with the approval of local authorities. By using a just-off-the-floor aluminum channel strip, anyone can “push” the exit button with a foot for egress. IC2S purchased components to custom create this solution that combined visual appeal with necessary safety functionality. “Along with this example, we did a great deal of building custom enclosures out of materials similar to those used in the environment, “ Estephan says. “We would match and modify and became extremely imaginative. Every day we’d discover a new challenge and it actually was exciting to gather our team and say, ‘Okay, how are we going to solve this one?’”

Up, running and delighted
By late July 2011, First American was operating out of their new, expanded offices. According to Tomaselli: “We have now achieved functionality that’s far more sophisticated than our competitors. When we bring clients and prospective customers here, they are wowed by the technology, the security and the advantages this brings to them. But without this elegant presentation and environment, it would be much less impressive. And IC2S was a major contributor to making the image we desired come to life.” Or as Thibault says, “IC2S stripped out the ugly and kept in the functionality.”

Today, Thibault and Tomaselli praise IC2S for outstanding ongoing service, noting that a recent problem an employee had with a desktop component was solved the same day. “IC2S stands beyond their work and does whatever it takes to address any issue, right on the spot,” Thibault said. “What they did for us – and continue to do – truly goes beyond state of the art.”