Ask the Expert: David Alessandrini

This month’s expert discusses strategies for navigating security challenges in a recession

The downturn in the economy seems to be at the forefront of every conversation. We wanted to know how the industry is adjusting, so we spoke with David Alessandrini, vice president of PASEK, to get his take.

ISSUE: How are companies dealing with the economic downturn this year?

SOLUTION: Smart businesses are taking this time to reflect on their operations and ensure that they refine, adjust and increase efficiency in all aspects of the company. This might mean taking a closer look at employee performance, renegotiating leases and contracts or investing in equipment that can add long-term value and be used for a variety of functions.

Recent surveys and anecdotes bolster the argument that crime may increase during a recession. Some companies also may have no other option but to invest in new security systems, due to expansion or old, malfunctioning equipment.

ISSUE: What are the most useful and valuable products that can add a longterm return on investment?

SOLUTION: Cameras are an almost universal necessity in security systems and should be a first priority, especially if they are not yet implemented in an existing plan. IP cameras have numerous advantages over previous technologies: they have higher resolution and are easily scalable.

Video analytics and IP cameras can add value to a security system by also monitoring employees, long checkout lines and store traffic patterns. The technology also may provide a quick return on investment by allowing security staff to successfully prosecute offenders. These cameras also can send video data over a network for remote video monitoring by law enforcement or a central command station.

DVRs and video analytics may be used in conjunction as an important tool for organizations with a large number of cameras to monitor. Video data can be stored in greater quantity and quality than analog set-ups.

Video analytics software can detect suspicious activity such as an individual lingering too long in a certain area or if a person is moving an item that should be stationary. Alerts can be set up to warn security staff when pre-determined conditions are met. The software also may track the movement of individuals after they trigger an alarm, greatly reducing the need for costly security staff to continuously monitor an area.

Low-cost, low-tech methods also should be used to complement new technology. The best method for preventing crime is deterrence. Fencing and lighting are simple additions that can drive away potential threats. Train employees and staff to respond to emergency situations and suspicious activity—for the technology to be useful, an effective plan must be in place.

The best companies always anticipate change. Use this downtime to prepare for the economic upswing by culling inefficient equipment and procedures and investing for the long term. Using future-proof technology will ensure that a system is functional and viable for years to come. Consider a blend of effective low-cost procedures to ensure you are prepared for the future.

READER QUESTION: I am planning to expand my business to two new locations. We currently have an older security system with analog cameras and would like to install a new system with digital cameras. What is the best method to ensure that we can monitor all systems from a one remote location?

SOLUTION: Centralizing security management using new digital technology is easy with a variety of networking solutions. Network IP-based cameras are the most convenient method of remote surveillance. There are local Ethernet networks, wireless mesh networks and point-to-point wireless transceivers available. Network and Internet technology is a great way to view live video feeds and review past events.

Hybrid DVRs, NVRs and software server-based systems can mix and match with analog and IP cameras. We also can convert existing analog cameras to digital by connecting them to single or multi-channel camera servers, which are a cost-effective solution for upgrading to digital technology.

IP-based cameras reduce the cost of installation by connecting the digital camera directly to a PoE switch. This eliminates the cost of a power supply and uses CAT-5e wire.

IT managers are concerned about network bandwidth when continuously streaming live video. The solution is to store video remotely at the edge. NVRs or edge drives store and process multiple cameras. Video can be uploaded to servers or network drives when network traffic is low.

Another method is to store video in the camera until motion detection or analytics alerts the host or client of activity. Incorporating motion or activity recording reduces the disk drive size and extends the number of recording days. With the technology available, it’s easy to incorporate old and new to design a digital recording solution using IT infrastructure for centralized monitoring.

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Security Today.

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