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Perimeter

6/10/2011
06:01 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle
Commentary
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Apple And Building For Security

Apple is planning on building what might not only be one of the most beautiful buildings, but one of the most secure as well

I’ve been watching the video of Steve Jobs' presentation to the Cupertino City Council. While Jobs doesn’t call this out, his new flying-saucer-shaped building could rival the Pentagon for security and safety. Apple is near-rabid when it comes to security, and the building's design appears to be one of the most secure I’ve ever seen both from both physical and electronic threats. In many ways mirroring what was learned in terms of building castles (that circles are better for defense), this amazing structure could set a new standard that is worth reviewing as we look at building our own offices, or even homes. Round, while more expensive, is actually safer and more secure.

Power Of The Circle
If you are going to cover a building with video cameras, then a circle-shaped building is far better than a square because if you place the cameras outside, there are fewer areas you can’t sweep effectively. This means fewer (or no) sharp corners that are difficult to see around, and fewer cameras to watch if the cameras are laid out properly. In addition, a circle is more structurally solid when placed flat, and stress force (think earthquakes, a problem in California where Apple is headquartered) can be spread more easily across the structure, unable to concentrate on the corners. The Apple design, which is actually more of an “O” with a hollow center, provides a very wide base for a building with a relatively short height, apparently maximizing the design's stability.

Metal “Ferriday Cage”
The metal construction of the building not only allows for more flex -- also important with earthquakes -- but it also makes it difficult for signals to get in and out of the building. That makes it far more difficult to put in place wireless listening devices or have internal wireless networks with much range outside. This is effectively, at least partially, a Faraday cage.

Grid As A Backup
Another unique aspect of this structure is that generation, both traditional and solar, is used as a primary source of power with the electrical grid as backup. Unlike redundant power implementations, which are not designed to run for long and often fail when the grid does because of lack of use, Apple’s exposure to a power failure should be far lower. This is because it will build to assure its own generation capability can work 24/7 and, should it fail, it will failover onto the grid, an already producing source of energy. Nothing has to power up, making the transitional downtime near insignificant.

Minimal Outdoor Parking
Outdoor parking lots are very difficult to police. In fact, an interesting story is that when this campus was owned by HP, the Queen of England visited, and when the Secret Service did it sweep, it found two HP employees engaged in non-HP activities in the back of a car. Covered structures can be better monitored by cameras and, particularly when they are within a secure fenced area like this one, provide an additional level of employee security.

Wrapping Up: Security Is A Circle
Having been on the HP Campus that Apple bought to build this landmark building, Apple has not only created a building that is absolutely beautiful to look at, but one that is far more secure than what it replaced. It is worth putting this on a list of buildings to visit if you are thinking of building something that could still be around this time next century.

--Rob Enderle is president and founder of The Enderle Group. Special to Dark Reading.

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