OTDR Used To Bring Concordia University Security & Emergency Alert System Back To Life

Background and Goals

Concordia University Wisconsin is located on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Michigan and home to more than 7,700 undergraduate and graduate students. Like any prominent university campus, safety and security of the residents, staff and visitors are top priority for campus officials. When security cameras, access doors and fire alarm systems unexpectedly shut down during a busy school day, immediate action was needed to ensure campus activities and classes could continue as scheduled.


Lemberg was on site quickly to determine the overall scope of the security and emergency alert system malfunction. The first step in determining the possible issue was for Lemberg technicians to review the as-built drawings. These drawings are critical for any maintenance contractor because they show building construction and wiring conditions as they are in their existing state, rather than what the design plan or proposed conditions will be once a construction project is completed.

After the drawings were reviewed, a piece of test equipment called an optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) was used to determine the exact location of the fault. An OTDR is an important instrument used by wiring technicians to identify fiber optic problems with existing links. The strength of any building’s network depends on the quality of the network infrastructure and at times during construction, the network stability may be breached. With the use of the OTDR, a Lemberg project manager was able to immediately diagnose the cause of the shutdown.


It was determined that the cause of the security and emergency system malfunction was due to ground erosion from construction equipment over the area where the fiber was installed. It was quickly determined what equipment, material and manpower would be needed to make repairs. Lemberg representatives secured material from a local supply house and subcontracted the boring that was needed to obtain access to the underground raceway.


With the help of Lemberg and cooperation from Concordia’s dedicated maintenance team, all security and emergency alert systems were operating again within less than 48 hours from the time the outage was reported.

It was necessary for those who worked on the outage project to share the underground raceway layout documentation with other on-site contractors so another outage would be avoided. In addition, a redundancy link (backup cable feed) was introduced for future installations to avoid a complete outage to outlying buildings.