Achieving Integrated Security Excellence
In lean times, system convergence can help businesses do more with less
- By Warren Rosebraugh
- Oct 01, 2011
With the number of IT devices used in businesses today growing
rapidly, organizations are seeking solutions that not only
reduce risk and secure property and staff, but also offer IT
and security convergence for maximum protection of people
and property across buildings systems. In addition to these considerations,
today’s security directors face less-than-favorable economic conditions that
have caused many U.S. companies to cut capital and operational expenditures
across the board.
With the expectation to do more with less, many companies and organizations
are considering integrated security systems that unite all components of
a security infrastructure over the corporate network to deliver a single, intelligent
solution that provides clear, real-time information. With this interface,
security staff can quickly and accurately analyze information and respond to
events through an efficient operational model, creating a more secure business
Why Integrated Building Systems?
There are many factors driving the uptick in demand for integrated security
systems, including the fact that emerging building management systems and
operational components now inherently possess technology and therefore already
require a certain level of IT management. Also, with rising energy costs
and corporate sustainability taking center stage, facilities managers are looking
at methods of creating more-intelligent buildings.
One such method of achieving more streamlined, standardized operations
and energy-efficiency within buildings consists of moving to a converged
model, where maintenance, IT and security departments can merge functions
such as access control, video surveillance, heating and cooling, lighting, energy
management, power management and IT room management to deliver
further savings and efficiencies to the facilities and IT departments.
However, for many organizations considering implementing an integrated
buildings solution within their facility or multiple campus buildings, this task
can seem like a tall order, especially in existing buildings that have multiple
sets of disparate infrastructure in place.
As recently as the late 1990s and early 2000s, security command centers
were commonly constructed to operate in silos in order to protect information.
Also, because processor power and computing system memory were
often limited, multiple controllers were necessary to support several areas
of security. This approach created a model in which each day-to-day operation—
access control, video surveillance, intercom exchange, intrusion detection and biometric enrollment—required its own user interface, reporting
process and audit trail, which requires significant capital and operational investment
to operate and maintain.
Creating an Effective Integrated Security Model
To help address the complexity organizations often face when pursuing integrated
security systems for their buildings, Schneider Electric opened a Customer
Solution Center (CSC) in Dallas in late 2009. The CSC was designed by
Schneider Electric’s Security Center of Excellence (CoE), a group of security
specialists in integrated solutions. Through the Security CSC, Schneider Electric
provides information, live demonstrations and expertise about IP convergence
with security and building managers to create a solution for each
individual organization’s needs with commercial, off-the-shelf components.
In engaging with the Security CoE and visiting the CSC, organizations can
understand how an integrated system would function and affect processes in
their building through hands-on virtual demonstrations of the processes and
At the center, both potential and current customers can experience how
a security scenario that relates to their current needs would play out in the
real world. Through this demo, a customer can understand how each part of
an overall security system functions, including the daily tasks of security personnel,
back-office processing, administrative functions and how all security
technologies tie together to form a complete system.
For example, a large telecom customer that already had a building management
system and card access system recently visited the Security CSC.
There, the company learned how it could complement its existing systems
with an IP-based intercom that ties into its manned command center. In the
demonstration, the intercom was mounted at an unmanned facility’s front
door. When a contractor was not able to gain access to the facility, he was able
to contact the command center through the intercom, which also activated
video, and the representative at the command center was able to access all
three kinds of security information from one screen and grant access while
speaking with the visitor in real time.
In the past, these systems would have resided on separate platforms and
would have to be accessed individually, one at a time. The demonstration
showed how an integrated security system could generate efficiencies, especially
for large command centers that need to respond to numerous access
requests at any given moment.
In addition, organizations that engage with the Security CoE also have
supplementary opportunities to receive training not only on integrated security
systems but also in other general energy competency areas such as HVAC
and energy management. These courses, which enable organizations to learn
about current and future opportunities to make the most of their security and
energy solutions, are available in Dallas; North Andover, Mass., and Rockford,
Ill. Several courses also are offered online for those unable to travel.
Solution Best Practices
After the solution is installed in a building, Security CoE professionals continue
to work with security and facilities organizations to ensure successful
implementation of their new integrated security system. Through this experience,
Schneider Electric’s staff has found that this process is typically much
easier for employees to adapt to than other system installations because they
have to train on only one common, simplified platform. However, there are
common areas in which Schneider recommends customers maintain best
practices to prevent common issues, including:
- Make sure you’re performing day-to-day maintenance such as backing up
your database to ensure there is no loss of critical information. This is a
simple process that often is overlooked until data has been lost.
- Work with the IT and facilities departments to measure and provide key
information on how the building is operating through the integrated system.
With this information, the security, IT and facilities teams can come
together to identify opportunities for additional energy/operational savings
and make adjustments to processes accordingly.
- Adjust your security system to work for you. In the beginning, your new
software may be generating alarms that are not necessary to your security
staff. Identify which alarms have the highest priority, and modify
your system’s preferences to reflect this information. This allows your
security personnel to focus on and respond to the alarms most critical to
By implementing an integrated system, security and facility managers can
better protect their organizations from risk, property theft and workplace violence,
and they can minimize response time to incidents in a more efficient
manner. They also have an opportunity to create a more sustainable business
operating model that reduces capital and operational expenditures.
Because organizations continually seek to mature and get the most out of
their security systems, buildings professionals at Schneider Electric have been
assisting security departments to extend their integrated security software to
accomplish security-related tasks that, until now, were not possible or being
underused. Using actionable data generated by integrated security software
that shares an IP-based IT backbone drives even more efficiency, sustainability
and operational effectiveness while decreasing human error. This, of
course, generates a favorable ROI.
Training allows organizations to learn how to converge infrastructure
components in innovative ways. For example, one customer is using the security
system to manage a pneumatic tube system in a medical facility to ensure
medicine is delivered to the correct, authorized recipient.
There is no doubt that creating a converged system model offers security
organizations numerous benefits in reducing threats to their overall business.
However, in order to make the most of the system to achieve security goals,
meet regulations and maximize integration efforts, it is crucial to properly
understand how security convergence can work in your facility to ensure your
security model is as effective as it can possibly be. By continuing to work with
experienced professionals in the field of integrated building systems, you will
also be able to identify new ways to use your system to achieve additional
This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of Security Today.