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September 19, 2014 | by Tom LeBlanc
As for who—besides Hall—is investing in this type of doomsday security, there appears to be a market for it. At press time, the development site indicates that condos are sold out minus a pending sale falling through.

Two additional silo sites have been secured and Logic Integration is on board to provide technology integration for both—a unique niche for an integration firm, to say the least.

Inside a Truly Unique A/V Project

Shawn Hansson, CEO and founder of Logic Integration, had no interest in pursuing the missile silo project initially. “When the client walked into our showroom I was ready to walk away because the budget [he proposed] was only $70,000, and nobody had ever built a facility like this before,” he says.

“There were so many questions. Who was financing it? Now he has outside investors so that’s less of an issue.”

Craig, however, negotiated the budget up to about $1 million and demonstrated a strategy that made Hansson confident that his company could approach it the right way. “My attitude went from ‘I don’t think we should do it’ to ‘Let’s do it!’,” Hansson says.

For Nix, who essentially lived at a hotel 18 miles from the remote Kansas job site for four months, the project was worth the unconventional challenges. He calls it “the project I’d want to work on before I die” and “a dream job,” pointing out that no other integration project managers are likely to have tricking out an abandoned nuclear missile silo on their resume.

The project, which is slated to wrap up in June 2013, included drama. Nix recalls being on the 14th floor, meaning 14 levels beneath the earth, when the power went out. “That’s when I realized I forgot my flashlight,” he says. Adding insult to injury, many of the security lights in the stairwell were out, “so I had to feel my way up the pitch dark stairs.”

Photos: Inside a Doomsday-Ready High-Tech Condo Community

Getting equipment in and out of the silo “wasn’t as hard as you’d think,” Nix says, adding that it was probably easier than some urban projects in which parking is limited. “We did have a loading dock and an elevator. The biggest thing you’d have to deal with is the mud. When it rains in Kansas the mud is like adhesive. It’s so bad that when you lose your shoe, you’re like, ‘Maybe I don’t need that shoe.’”

Security was an underestimated issue on the project. The North Central Kansas location is billed as “undisclosed,” but media coverage (see video below) included enough area footage for some people to pinpoint the job site. “There were numerous attempts by people trying to get in here and see what we’ve got, how deep it is,” Nix says. “There is a lot of interest from survivalists.”

As a result, the security and surveillance system became much more robust than originally planned. Nix opts not to describe details of the security solution, just that the surveillance system “is the most elaborate I’ve seen.” The installation involved him climbing atop a 60-foot communication tower to install at PTZ camera (photo).

One aspect of the security solution that was anticipated is the emergency communication system. Hall, the developer, wants silo occupants to be alerted to danger whether it’s outside the secure silo or inside. Logic Integration Crestron programmer Craig Brown made sure that pretty much every thing within the silo that has a video display—including iPads, Crestron touchpanels and common-area screens—features a notification system.

“It will show a 24/7 status which is green, yellow for caution or red for alert,” Nix says. “It also gives you the capability to press an alert button to get a code and create your own [mass notification visual and audio] alert. So if a tenant fell and broke their leg or they have a situation where they need help in any way, they can hit that alert and change the status for the entire property.”

Download: Digital Signs of the Times

The unique obstacles involved with integrating audio, video and automation solutions in a 175-foot-deep secure silo, Nix says, provide him with prospective that will help him with future projects.

“It’s like a relationship. There’s good, there’s bad, and at the end you’re glad you hung onto it and glad you are a part of it. I’ve learned so much on this job in terms of limitations of the equipment, dealing with the daily drama of what the next step brings.”

Tour the missile silo turned condo community with developer Larry Hall:

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About the author

Tom LeBlanc - Editor-in-Chief, CI,
Tom has been covering electronics integration since 2003. Prior to being named editor-in-chief of CI, he was senior writer and managing editor of CE Pro. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Follow him on Twitter @leblanctom.
View all posts by Tom LeBlanc
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