Ask the Expert

Experienced systems integrators should expect that many end users may not be up to date about the most effective combination of products for a complete security system. They simply know the specific reasons that they initially decided to install a physical security system. That means that communication between the customer and the integrator is key in the design, installation and maintenance process of a new security project.

ISSUE: How can integrators ensure end users understand all aspects of a project?
It’s important that end-user representatives provide specific information and articulate in clear detail the reasons that they want to install a security system. What are the end user’s expectations of the system, and what concerns do they have of any employees, other contractors or vendors? This facilitates the process for the integrator and helps ensure that each client receives the best solution for their situation. The end-user representative needs to be sure to provide the systems integrator with what he or she thinks are the facility’s weaknesses and tell them about any security problems that have been experienced in the past. The representative should tell the integrator about their business— what they do and if there are any plans for expansion—and the facility so the integrator can make suggestions and better guide the project.

It is vital to arrange regular meetings between the end user and integrator to discuss progress on the project and any obstacles that may arise. It is necessary to set up a time for these meetings during the initial planning process and communicate regularly to make sure both parties are operating on the same page. End users also should try to remember that there are many people involved in this process and keep payments in mind. If payments to the integrator are not done in a timely fashion, progress on the installation will lag, as the integrator will not be able to make payroll.

ISSUE: Scheduling can be a major obstacle during installation of a security system. How can integrators avoid this?
The date and time of the installation should be agreed upon during the initial planning process. It is likely that the end user is going to want the integrator to be there as little as possible during regular working hours because of the disruptions the installation may cause during the day. Often, this can be worked around, and both sides can agree on a good time for the job—if discussed in advance. The integrator also needs to know how to best gain entry to the facility, and the end user should provide the integrator with a convenient place to keep equipment and for employees to park their vehicles.

Communication is best if one person is designated as the integrator’s point of contact on the end-user side. It is imperative to keep the IT department involved in the project. IT, on occasions, has specific requirements that the security plan needs to meet, and it is important for the integrator to talk to the IT staffers early in the process about the requirements to avoid making expensive last-minute changes. Most enduser representatives will not know how to effectively control their new security system, so they should demand that a training session be included for the end user and employees after the installation is complete. Due to personnel turnover, ongoing training should be anticipated.

The final result will better meet the end user’s expectations if both parties work closely together and communicate well throughout the process of designing and installing the security project. Planning in advance is especially important on a larger project and can help save a lot of time on the installation phase. The job can be completed more quickly and more smoothly if both parties are on the same track and talk often.

READER QUESTION: Three years ago, my husband and I purchased a 30-room boutique hotel along the coast of Oregon. About six months ago, we started having problems with theft and vandalism— both inside and outside. Can you provide an idea of what security measures we might take in order to bring these problems under control? We don’t have a lot of money, but we also cannot continue to suffer the losses.
Before I recommend a solution, a site survey and risk analysis should be conducted to determine crime levels and trends, and lighting levels during the day and at night. The coastal location also must be taken into account—saltwater spray will have a corrosive effect on all exterior equipment.

In general, the security plan should provide perimeter protection and video surveillance. Perimeter protection can be provided by a card access system that gives authorized entry to both individual rooms and hotel entrances; this system should send alarm signals to a remote monitoring station though the use of an alarm panel. Video surveillance should cover parking areas, building entries, lobbies and other common areas. IP and megapixel cameras should be considered to provide the necessary flexibility and video quality. Video analytics can provide real-time alerts to appropriate staff when suspicious activity occurs in the camera’s field of view; some of these activities are loitering, unattended objects, tailgating and removed objects. While the cost of a security system is a consideration, it is important to keep in mind that the impact of crime and vandalism can cost much more.

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  • Security Today Magazine - April 2019

    April 2019


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