Ask the Expert: Ron Ludvigsen

The safety and security of millions of business and pleasure travelers each year is a major concern for the hospitality industry. Terrorists and other more common criminals looking to cause harm to property or guests have increasingly targeted hotels. Recent high-profile attacks in India and Indonesia have highlighted the danger at hotels around the world. We spoke to Ron Ludvigsen, president of CGL Electronic Security, to find out more.

Issue: What are the first steps a hospitality facility should take to best deter attacks?

Solution: A large number of visitors pass through a hotel each day, presenting a number of immediate and important challenges to address. Access control can be a simple and effective procedure to implement. Systems are most likely already in place for keycard access to rooms. But access control also should be extended to other areas. Think about securing the pool, gym, office, meeting rooms and parking facility.

Use access key cards that enable visitors to enter their room and common areas, while blocking unwanted persons. Electronic keycards make it easy to block entry to a former guest who no longer has access privileges.

Keeping undesirable visitors away is a very important step for guest safety. Bollards installed outside the lobby will help provide a zone of safety between vehicles and the facility. Plant bushes and hedges around ground fl oor windows to ensure privacy for guests and provide another layer of security.

Issue: What role can video surveillance play in hospitality security?

Solution: A video surveillance system can serve as both a deterrent to criminals and a way to monitor live and recorded video. Cameras should be placed in the most visited areas of the hotel: the lobby, hallways, elevator banks, restaurants and bars, and HVAC and other equipment rooms.

Well-placed signs reminding visitors that they are being monitored can serve as an effective deterrent. Video analytics can offer a long-term return on investment by providing a constant monitoring presence with a reduction in the number of security staff required. The analytics can signal an alarm when the software detects a potentially dangerous situation, such as a person behaving erratically or a car parked in an unauthorized space.

Parking lots are another area that should be monitored by cameras and secured with access control. Use gates that only allow entry to keycard holders, and strategically place cameras in appropriate areas—an experienced security integrator will be able to determine the right spots.

Although cameras are extremely valuable, they cannot completely eliminate the need for security personnel. Ensure that the facility has security guards patrolling the grounds, especially at night. The presence of guards also is reassuring to guests. Other security concerns often overlooked are threats that may be invisible to the naked eye. Carbon monoxide and fire monitoring systems should be in place to protect guests and abide by local laws and building codes.

Consult an experienced and recommended integrator to help handle a range of issues from where to place cameras to what type of access control equipment to install.

Reader Question: I am a biological scientist by training who has been asked to head our small pharmaceutical company’s security committee. We are looking into a video surveillance system to monitor our production and shipping areas. We require quality video but don’t have much in the budget for cameras. What type of cameras and recorders would you recommend for us?

Solution: Although budgets are always a concern, regardless of the industry, it should not be the deciding force in selecting a video surveillance system.

There are many cameras and recorders that have very attractive price points but suffer from a quality standpoint, in both the image presented and stored by the recorder.

Network-based IP cameras provide cost-effective solutions by allowing you to leverage existing infrastructure such as the facility network and storage solutions. Traditional analog cameras require a separate cabling structure for both power and video. On the other hand, IP cameras are network appliances. You plug them into an available network port, and they use the network infrastructure to deliver the images to monitoring workstations and recording systems.

Megapixel cameras provide a denser image, allowing a single megapixel camera to provide video coverage equivalent to four standard resolution cameras. They allow you to zoom in without the image becoming blocky or pixilated.

Since this is a network-based solution, you should include your IT groups as part of your security committee. Bottom line, if you want more value and performance for your money, IP network surveillance cameras and recorders is the way to go.

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