Johnson Controls: Controlling the Building

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Johnson Controls offers building access and other security features, not just heating and cooling controls.

Dean Barrett is piggybacking on a $13 million energy-saving program to install access control and fire monitoring systems at the Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Centers. He's using a Johnson Controls building control system, which locks doors, controls access through identification cards to sensitive areas, and pinpoints the location of activated fire alarms.

Because the security system can be monitored by the same staff responsible for watching the building's heating and cooling, security guards are freed up to roam buildings instead of keeping an eye on monitors.

Increasingly, organizations are seeking to link access control, video surveillance and other security features into building control systems from Johnson Controls and competitors including Honeywell, Siemens and General Electric.

Johnson Controls' use of technology standards such as Ethernet and XML (the eXtensible Markup Language) make integrating security and building controls easier, but customers say it's still not plug-and-play. The market is flooded with providers of card-key-access control and other security products, not all of which have developed interfaces to Johnson's Metasys system.

As a result, organizations like Miller Park in Milwaukee still haven't been able to integrate card-key access with building controls. "Right now, it would be too expensive and complicated to integrate it with the Metasys," says Miller Park's Tonya Powell.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport retained Johnson Controls to upgrade video surveillance and card key access control systems in a $13.8 million project. Because the airport's building control system was developed internally, it lacked the hooks to easily link to the new security systems. "It's something we'd like to be able to do, but it's not part of this project," says Arif Ghouse, airport security manager.

Some customers say Metasys' on-screen presentation can be confusing. "I didn't have problems personally, but some others here complained that the workstation interface is hard to learn," says Cliff Aldridge, special projects coordinator at Bernalillo County Courthouse. "For some it takes training."

Johnson Controls officials acknowledge linking building control and security systems—particularly systems from different providers—isn't as easy as it should be. "We're all working on standards, but it's going to be a proprietary approach probably for the next three to four years," says Pat Young, president of Johnson Controls' security solutions unit.

Johnson Controls
507 E. Michigan Ave., Milwaukee, Wi. 53201
(414) 524-4000 www.jci.com

Employees: 35,867 (Controls Group Only)

Brian Stark
President, Controls Group
Responsible for the division, which includes building control and security products.

Pat Young
President, Security Solutions
Responsible for the planning and execution of Johnson Controls' global security business.


Metasys monitors and controls building operations such as air- flow and temperature. Metasys integrates with security systems such as card-key- access control and monitors fire alarms and water pressure controls. Johnson has card-key and biometrics security systems and provides integration services.

Reference Checks

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Arif Ghouse
Manager, Airport Security
(206) 390-6284
Project: Installed Johnson Controls' Cardkey biometric reader and smart-card system.

Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Centers
Dean Barrett
Building Manager
dean_barrett @kcmo.org
Project: Installed a Metasys building control system.

University of South Dakota
Fred Holberg
Building Engineer
(605) 677-6116
Project: Upgraded building control systems. Metasys is not yet integrated with security systems.

Pillsbury Midwest Manufacturing Facility
Bruce Athman
Project Engineer
(573) 221-9420 x 3321
Project: Installed Metasys in 1998 to automate heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Hannibal, Mo., plant. Johnson Controls also operates and services the system.

Miller Park
Tonya Powell
Special Projects Support Services for Park Operations Coordinator
(414) 902-4440
Project: Installed Metasys to control heating, lighting at the stadium home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bernalillo County
Cliff Aldridge
Special Projects Coordinator
(505) 314-0111
Project: Installed a Metasys system for controlling air flow, air conditioning and water valves in 2-year-old courthouse. System operates on a dedicated network. The county has looked at moving the system to run on the courthouse's LAN, but upgrading controllers deemed too expensive.

Executives listed here are all users of Johnson Controls' products and services. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

This article was originally published on 2003-09-10
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