Security directors looking for best-in-class solutions, with flexibility included
- By Mark S. Wilson, Rick White
- Sep 01, 2010
Multi-campus users want a new model for security and safety that offers customization today while providing easy migration or upgrades in the future. They want their next security system to be flexible, adaptable and scalable. The solution must provide the right products for their specific applications now and in the future. Users look forward to eventually incorporating emergency lockdown, Wi-Fi, network on a card, mesh networks, video analytics and other new technologies without complications.
And, although such systems can become complex, multi-campus users want the system to appear seamless. New tools should be simplified, made easy to use and install. Such attributes aren’t important only to the end users. After all, these decisions are now being made in conjunction with IT and finance managers who have different sets of measurable goals and objectives.
On the access control side, many users often hold off on implementing a new security platform because they are worried it will be obsolete within a few years. They want flexible and adaptable solutions that are scalable, protecting their investment for years to come.
“At some time in the future, we may turn to a contactless card, most likely smart credentials,” said Gary Conlry, facilities and systems engineer for the Office of Business Operations at the University of Virginia in Charlotttesville. “Switching over is not a small undertaking when one considers there is a universe of 20,000 cardholders, nearly 1,400 access control points and an active program to add additional access control points as funds become available. In fact, it’s painful.”
The need for flexibility and scalability in access control systems also is a requirement for surveillance systems. For instance, financial managers do not want to write off equipment that is not fully depreciated. They will often block a request for upgrades, such as moving from an analog to digital surveillance system.
“There are several reasons why it is important that we begin to migrate to an IP solution,” said Nate Rice, the University of South Florida’s engineer for video surveillance. “First of all, we must reduce costs. We have more than 200 buildings on campus. Any one of them may request surveillance coverage and, when they do, our team visits them, analyzes their needs and designs a system.
“In too many cases, we end up with a need for only one camera, with no way to connect it to another head-in running fiber. That means we need to include a dedicated DVR, which is very expensive. With an IP camera, we can simply plug it into the network and allocate storage for that camera. Thus, the cost is dramatically less than a single camera connected to a multi-port DVR.”
The State of Security
Let’s review the typical security system in use today. In many cases, it was installed in stages. As a result, it is comprised of different brands and disparate products, many of which do not integrate into the same system or talk with each other.
Too often, the hardware and software systems are proprietary, making it difficult to mix and match best-of-breed components or customize the solution to specific needs. The system requires too many separate databases and a plethora of software interfaces that creates confusion, lowers the level of security within the facility and decrease staff productivity.
Contrarily, with an open-architecture, modular locking solution, multicampuses can much more easily adapt to evolving security plans and processes while better managing cost reduction strategies. They can control disruptions during installation by deploying the wireless networking option. Control and audit access to security sensitive information, assets and departments can be ensured by providing varying levels of access control at different openings.
A common credential strategy can be implemented throughout the various campuses and facilities.
Instead of locating components such as the credential reader or requestto- exit around the door, as has been traditionally done, new integrated lock designs, such as the Schlage AD-Series locks used at the University of Virginia, incorporate these components into the lock itself. In addition, these electronic locks provide seamless integration with their existing software. The lock hardware and software are easy to upgrade.
The lock itself provides a migration path to future technology needs, not only protecting the facility but also protecting its investment. Users can upgrade their locks without taking them off the door, saving installation costs. With interchangeable reader modules, they switch from one credential reader to another quickly, easily and affordably.
The same is true for interchangeable network modules, going from standalone, offline locking to a networked access control system with yet another switchover, to provide instant lockdowns throughout the facility when needed and change access rights. Wireless is used when cost is a factor or if the application is cumbersome. Hardwired is used when it is most cost effective, all under one system and one database.
The IP Approach
Surveillance users recognize that IP security video is inevitable -- and a good thing. IP provides better images from IP cameras, and the introduction of megapixel and high-definition cameras demands an IP approach. In addition, storage has moved to digital. Video analytics, whether as simple as motion detection or as complex as alerting to certain types of human behavior, depends on IP video. In the command center, it is a software world where integration is the password and joysticks are being eased out, thanks to easy-touse computer mice, drop-down menus and touchscreens.
Coaxial, shielded twisted pair and unshielded twisted pair cable, fiber optics and -- to a lesser degree -- a variety of wireless approaches carry most security video. The difference and business advantage of the various transmission schemes are in cost of installation and maintenance.
Security managers are interested in IP cameras that eliminate longdistance analog cabling. One strategy to handle both analog and digital networks is to transmit all the signals over a single fiber-optic cable that is secure and immune to electrical and environmental interference. Installation is dramatically simplified by eliminating the need for multiple fibers, transmitters and receivers. Following a co-existence plan, power supplies that are multitap, addressable and programmable have advantages.
Other considerations include the increased bandwidth impact on the enterprise’s network. This is a tricky assignment, and IT can help. Newer types of compression, decompression or codec, such as H.264, reduce bandwidth traffic load, but will costs increase due to more storage and command center processing needs? Can the budget afford the increased transmission and storage associated with megapixel cameras?
One of the most challenging dilemmas Rice and his team face is the question of when and how to take the leap from an analog to an IP/digital video system. They want to move to IP surveillance in a cost-managed way that extends the life of existing equipment.
For most sites, this migration will take place gradually and, during the process, analog and IP solutions will have to coexist, in some cases, for many years.
To keep using their legacy cameras, a multi-campus facility could add encoders to all their cameras and replace the analog control room with a fully digital system. For a lower initial expense, in a coexistence solution, the existing analog equipment -- including cameras, the control room, a video wall and cabling -- can remain untouched while special VMS software integrates with the present keyboard, sitting on top of the system to manage the IP equipment using the already-installed analog control system.
Free to Move Boldly
True security systems integration is the goal of most security operations. Beyond relays and interfaces, seamless integration of security video with electronic access control, intrusion, perimeter and identification systems is a beneficial endpoint of any operation.
Buyers simply want a solid return on investment and a lower total cost of ownership. They want to buy now with minimal risk to themselves and their organization, and be able to show their budget oversight committees that a given solution provides the best security for their facility.
Take the instance of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the largest exhibition venue in the Middle East. ADNEC hosts more than 60 high-profile exhibitions each year, from largescale public shows such as the Abu Dhabi Book Fair to international trade exhibitions such as IDEX and ADIPEC. ADNEC recently completed an expansion to increase their exhibition floor space, which required expanding the security system as well.
The security system for the original halls was based on analog technology but, for the new extension, ADNEC chose an IP video surveillance solution.
They needed to protect the original investment. Using coexistence network video management software, the security staff at ADNEC can manage both the existing analog system and the new IP solution.
Existing analog equipment, including the cameras, control room, video wall and cabling, remains untouched while the Infinova V2216 software integrates with the present keyboard, sitting on top of the system to manage the IP equipment using the already-installed analog control system. Since the analog side of the equipment is not affected by the coexistence system, their security staff can continue to use their present, familiar video wall, system keyboards and joysticks to manage both the analog and digital equipment.
The VMS also provides ADNEC with the scalability of a built-in DVR and access control module to manage contacts and alarms from access control equipment. For door access control, the VMS displays card-swipe information and live video of the door area.
Today, the upgraded video surveillance system throughout ADNEC includes more than 500 Infinova IP cameras and monitors, matrix switchers and fiber-optic transceivers. System components are distributed over subcontrol rooms to provide local monitoring for each exhibition hall. Control rooms are connected by a fiber-optic network to a centralized archiving system, where recorded video is stored for one month.
At the perimeter, Infinova fiberoptic Ethernet transceivers enable the security operations staff to secure every mile of the outskirts of the center from the central control room. Special fiber-optic cable provides additional protection by preventing intruders from breaching ADNEC’s Ethernettransmitted security system.
On the access control side, knowing that users will ultimately be using smart cards, they might suggest installing multi-technology readers to read today’s proximity cards, magnetic-stripe cards or PINs, but also can read smart credentials once the cross-over begins.
They can show the financial committee that a solid video plan is one in which both analog and IP cameras can coexist.
Such coexistence increases security’s overall situational and domain awareness, improves its operational effectiveness and efficiencies, and provides a growth plan that extends the life of existing equipment. In both access control and video surveillance, they want to show their planned systems are affordable and easy to manage.
This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Security Today.