DFA is a leading milk marketing cooperative and dairy food processor that is owned by and serves more than 12,500 diverse farmer-members nationwide. It was founded in 1998 to unite family farmers and help them survive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace by operating plants to process their milk, finding outlets for their products, and investing in new business opportunities.
This core value of unification also extends to DFA’s modernized approach towards physical security. As the Director of Network Services, Patrick Allen manages teams and infrastructure that include networking, manufacturing operations, and physical security. “Each site had its own physical security system, and it was clear to me after some time that we needed a centralized corporate strategy and enterprise-grade solution.”
The Challenge: Standardizing Physical Security Across 86 Processing Plants
“For an enterprise deployment, my biggest considerations were ease of use, management, security, and scalability. We had systems from various manufacturers tied to different software platforms, which wasn’t an approach we could—or wanted to—support in the long-run.”
DFA operates 86 dairy processing plants throughout the United States, and Allen has high-value IT equipment stored in a number of these locations. Many sites had a mix of legacy analog and digital systems, which led to unpredictable and costly maintenance requests. Service repairs and replacements would often land on Allen’s desk, and he began looking for an enterprise solution that could unify all physical security under one platform. Specifically, he needed a solution that fulfilled critical requirements for information security, but would also be easy to use and manage for his team.
“Every other alarm system and panel has been convoluted and hard to use; no one can do anything beyond hitting ‘arm’ and ‘disarm.’ To make any backend changes, we had to call a vendor to come out and pay a huge fee just to have them service it.”
Why Verkada: Natively Integrated Enterprise Security Solution
“Verkada develops, builds, owns, and supports all of their hardware and software. This allows us to move towards a centralized system where all our physical security devices live on one platform and speak to each other effortlessly.”
With Verkada, Allen has a unified security solution in which video security, access control, and sensor events are seamlessly integrated into alarms. Each Verkada device acts as a standalone alarm sensor, eliminating the need to install alarm panels and separate glassbreak, doorstop, or motion sensors. No third-party setup is required, as professional monitoring is natively integrated into the cloud-based Command software platform. Designed with enterprise-grade security at top of mind, Verkada also provides DFA with end-to-end data ownership, security, and accountability to uphold trust and privacy.
Leveraging Verkada’s Existing Security Ecosystem
Any Verkada product (camera, environmental sensor, access control unit, or alarm panel) activity can be easily configured as a trigger event to trip the alarm. For Allen, this means no additional intrusion sensor hardware or alarm panel is required, but can be added to increase the coverage of his Verkada ecosystem. To get started, all he needs is a Verkada device and software license with professional monitoring.
“Alarms tie in seamlessly with the rest of the product ecosystem: Any camera or access event can be easily set to trip an alarm, so I can essentially have professional monitoring with any Verkada device. I already have all the pieces, adding Alarms just makes sense.”
Allen has also repurposed existing alarm motion and glassbreak sensors by wiring them into the I/O Panel. “Setting up the Alarms product was super simple. If you have an existing system with pre-wired sensors, it’s even more straightforward—it can easily be done in a day.” On the access control side, Verkada’s AC41 control panel is also compatible with most existing door hardware and card readers, so no wiring needs to be changed and no on-premise clients or servers are required. After replacing the access panel, doors are online and configured in minutes.
Instant Visibility into Alarm Events to Accelerate Responses
“If an alarm goes off, I receive a link to the footage via text message, and within 10-15 seconds I know if it’s a false alarm.”
When an alarm is raised, the Verkada platform initiates a set of responses, all configurable by Allen and his site administrators: 1) Notify contacts via SMS or email; 2) call and/or dispatch of emergency services from professional monitoring center; 3) activate alarm sound on the console, or other outputs on the panel; 4) initiate Lockdown via access control. With native camera integration, video footage syncs automatically with any access or alarm event so Allen and his team have immediate visibility across all the sites in the organization. In an emergency, they can press a panic button via Command, the Alarms app, or the Alarm Console to immediately raise an alarm and call emergency services onsite.
Intuitive Configuration for Alarm Settings and Response Workflows
“Whereas every other alarm system or panel requires a manual to navigate, Verkada is intuitive and easy to configure from Command. Any backend programming for Alarms can be done in-house by our Director of Operational Technology or one of his team members, which eliminates the need to hire outside vendors and the service fees associated with that.”
Alarms is built into Verkada’s web-based Command platform where organizations can access and manage their physical security across all their locations under a single pane of glass. Administrators can easily configure events from any of their Verkada devices to trigger an alarm, and customize who is notified when an alarm is raised. With a drag-and-drop interface, programming alarm settings and responses across sites takes seconds, eliminating the need to hire third-party vendors to make small backend changes.
Site- and Role-Based Access Management
“Our Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) group works with our team to retrieve security footage for investigations. With Verkada, it takes five seconds to give them what they need.”
With role-based permissions, Allen can easily control who has access to their system and what they do with that access. He limits the number of users with Command access to 25 team members, and their permissions to specifically the sites and functionalities they need access to. To ensure compliance and chain of command, all actions taken in Command are tracked and available for review and export as Audit Logs. To expedite investigations, Allen’s team apply intelligent search filters and share video archives via SMS text, email, or a time-limited link from any browser or mobile device.
Enterprise-Grade Security Infrastructure
“We reviewed Verkada’s security footprint, platform, and thought process with our Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer, and we were just excited about it. Here’s a solution that doesn’t require a NVR or DVR, provides API integrations with workflows like multifactor authentication, and automates manual tasks like system updates so it’s easy to support on an enterprise level.”
Allen and DFA have complete ownership over their data and control who has access to it. Built to be secure out of the box, all Verkada devices are backed by an industry leading 10-year warranty, and supported by automatic software and firmware updates to ensure they are always up to date. Data is encrypted both at-rest and in-transit, with no port forwarding required for remote access. Allen has also enabled multifactor authentication (MFA) as an added layer of protection across platforms.
Liability Protection and Digital Evidence Management
“In a lost time incident, Verkada provides: a.) liability protection, and b.) a training opportunity for the employee at fault so it doesn’t happen again. Similar to having a dashcam in a car accident, we can clearly see what happened without further discussion.”
All alarm events can be reviewed directly from the Command sites page, and administrators have full visibility into steps that were taken to properly assess and respond to the threat. To ensure availability and clarity of video evidence, cameras record continuously and reliably with up to 4K resolution. Unlimited cloud archiving is included in DFA’s software license, and archived footage is marked with the time and date to ensure its usability in court. By automating and simplifying digital evidence management, Allen reduces the burden on his team, saves time during ongoing investigations, and protects the organization from false claims.
Looking Ahead: Scaling Access Control, Alarms, and Video Security
“We have buy-in from senior leaders to continue deploying Verkada across sites, and we’re adding access control and cameras to the new corporate headquarters. Tying Alarms in with the rest of the system is a given, and I’m excited to see the product grow.”
Allen has single-camera deployments across 30 locations (monitoring critical IT equipment) and full-site deployments across 7 locations. He is planning to install cameras and access control across 15 new sites before the end of the year. “It’s very likely that we’ll be adding Verkada to more facilities as our employees use it, like it, and talk about it.” He plans to integrate intrusion detection and professional monitoring to these locations as well.
“Scalability is key as we go for an enterprise deployment, and I would recommend Verkada to any organization looking to strengthen and streamline its physical security system.”
To learn more about Verkada’s unified security solution, attend an upcoming webinar or request a free trial.