THE MAGAZINE

The Mark Center Makes Its Mark

By Matthew Harwood

The PFPA can also control the card’s time parameters at will for extra security and to accommodate needs. If a visitor’s schedule changes, PFPA can adjust the card accordingly.

After the first envelope of security, employees and visitors must go through another bank of full-height “intelligent” turnstiles, equipped with sensors that can detect tailgating, when a person tries to enter the quadrant directly behind a cleared employee or visitor. When that activity is detected, the turnstile backs the offenders out.

Calibrating the turnstile sensors was a challenge for Derek Nagel, access control branch chief for the PFPA’s Project Integration Directorate, and his team. They had to tweak it just right so that somebody passing through with a big bag or a rucksack wouldn’t trigger an alarm and slow down throughput. Currently, 12 to 13 tenants can pass through each of the four turnstiles per minute.

Tenants and visitors alike can find the turnstiles intimidating if they’ve never worked in such a secure building. Before the Mark Center, 90 percent of these DoD employees and contractors simply flashed their pass in front of a guard to enter a building. Now they’re confronted with futuristic-looking tubes.

“Some people think they’re rocket ships—I mean they literally think they’re being full-body-scanned,” says Nagel. “They don’t understand what these things are doing, so there’s a huge learning curve.”

To help new tenants get comfortable with the turnstiles, Nagel’s team developed training videos and materials, conducted hands-on tenant training sessions, and rolled out a massive education and awareness campaign. A train-the-trainer mind-set has spontaneously emerged from these initial efforts, with knowledgeable tenants teaching newcomers how to navigate the turnstiles. The armed private security guards and Pentagon police officers who are nearby to watch over the lobby can also help tenants use the turnstiles if need be.

Identity Management

What makes the Mark Center stand out is its identity management and access control solution, known as the Privilege Management Program (PMP). This system is a source of pride because it helped the Mark Center become the first building to be compliant with Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12. That directive, issued by President Bush in August 2004, mandated implementation of a governmentwide secure identification credential that could be used for physical and logical access to federal facilities and networks.

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