Strengthening Security with Integrated Systems
Exploring the capabilities of integration
- By Brian Wiser
- Apr 01, 2017
The security industry is dynamic and ever-changing.
Technological advancements continually enhance the
quality of the video surveillance images we see and
the data we glean from them. They also improve our
ability to quickly catch intruders, ease communication
during emergency situations, and much more. While each new development
offers added benefits to the user, integrating these technologies
together delivers even greater advantages.
Standalone technology silos can be inefficient to manage—especially
for larger organizations—and can lack the ability to provide an
overall view of the security of the facility. Security technologies like
intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance complement
each other very well and can work together to enhance facility
control. Combining these technologies with communications systems
offers the ability to create more complete solutions that help to mitigate
risk and improve the efficiency of personnel operating the system.
While integration is happening to some extent now, the prevalence
will increase as awareness of the capabilities grows. As integrators
and users alike have the chance to see integrated systems at work—
at industry events like ISC West and others—there will be greater
understanding of the possibilities and use cases for integration. Integrated
systems offer the ability to streamline manual security processes,
enhance security of sensitive areas, alert security personnel or
facility managers to potential risks, and much more.
Exploring the Possibilities
There are many different use cases for integration of security and
communications technology, and the key to determining the best approach
is understanding how the user’s organization currently works,
and would like to work. Here are just a few of the possibilities enabled
through integrated systems.
Integrating an intrusion system with access control and video surveillance
can simplify operation for employees while keeping business
owners or managers informed of the status of their facilities—particularly
useful in the case of a multi-site business. For example, when
an authorized employee presents his or her access credentials at a
facility entrance, the door can unlock, the intrusion detection system
can automatically disarm, and the security operator can be alerted
through video displayed from a nearby camera. The system can alert
the owner or security manager with a text message when the system is
opened and disarmed or closed and armed each day.
Video can provide improved situational awareness when other intrusion control panel events occur. If someone tampers with or
attempts to mask a motion detector, the security control panel can
trigger a nearby camera to send a video snapshot via email or text
to the facility manager. It can also alert security personnel and trigger
a pan-tilt-zoom camera to focus on the relevant area for further
If there is a particularly sensitive area at a facility—such as a
server room—video, access and intrusion technology can combine to
secure the area and can even be used to provide physical protection of
the data by securing the individual hardware racks inside the room.
Each server rack can have its own access reader, keypad and camera.
This can keep unauthorized individuals from accessing the equipment
and also restrict authorized people to scheduled days and times,
limiting after-hour access to pre-determined times for maintenance
or upgrades. Using a keypad and a reader on the racks enables the
use of dual authentication, so the individual must present something
he has—a credential—along with something he knows—a pin—for
The intrusion system can also provide reports on openings and
closings along with the user name or identification of the person who
armed or disarmed the rack—delivering an audit trail of those who
accessed the equipment. Adding the IP camera ensures that any attempts
to open the racks by unauthorized individuals will trigger the
camera to send a text or email alert with a video snapshot to the
facility or IT manager.
When using cameras equipped with video analytics, the cameras
can also initiate intrusion detection system events when pre-defined
alarms are triggered. Video analytics can be a major asset, as it ensures
a constant eye on the scene and instantly alerts to conditions
that require action. Improvements in accuracy are also making it a
more sought after feature. Enhancements in reliability are reducing
false alarms in outdoor environments, so analytics can now be used
with more accurate results in areas with heavy winds, in weather conditions
like rain, snow or hail, or near bodies of water that are in
When a pre-defined alarm is triggered, such as detection of loitering
in a parking lot or of a perimeter breach after hours, the analytic
alert can immediately fault a corresponding point on the intrusion
control panel. This prompts the panel to communicate the alarm to
the central monitoring station or to send video snapshots to the user.
Integrating security technology with a public address system can
also provide added protection of sensitive areas, such as locations
with valuable assets. Requiring dual authentication to disarm an area
and combining that technology with video analytics and automated
audio announcements maximizes security for high-risk locations. For
example, it can allow security personnel to be notified if unauthorized
individuals attempt to touch or move high-value assets and immediately
trigger a pre-recorded audio announcement to alert the
individuals that their actions are being monitored.
Audio integration is also beneficial for initiating pre-recorded
messages based on security events. For example, activating an emergency
pull station or pressing a wireless panic button can automatically
trigger a public address system to play emergency instructions
through a loudspeaker while also notifying facility personnel with a
different message through two-way radios.
Managing the System
By integrating intrusion detection and access control within the video
management system (VMS), users gain centralized control of security
and video devices and doors across the enterprise. This increases
efficiency for operators and simplifies management of the system.
For example, if a delivery arrives at a shipping dock after the dock
worker has left for a lunch break, the facility manager or security
personnel can use the VMS to view live video from a nearby camera
to validate that a delivery person is at the dock door. From within
the VMS, he could then disarm the dock area and cycle the door
to allow the delivery person to enter. The facility manager can view
live streams from other cameras in the system to watch the delivery
person complete the drop off and leave the building. He can then
re-arm the dock area. All of these actions can be done via the map
in the VMS interface—without the facility manager needing to leave
Mobile command and control of the system via apps for smart
phones or tablets also keeps users connected even when they are away
from a site. Within the same app used to arm or disarm an intrusion
system or area or control doors, users can also view live video from
IP cameras integrated with the system.
Benefitting from Services
Combining these security technologies with video monitoring services
enables the central station to intervene at the time of a possible
security risk, providing a powerful deterrent that may prevent possible
damage and theft. For example, once an alarm is transmitted
to the central monitoring station, video images provide additional
information to the operator to help them verify what is happening
within or outside the facility. Along with alarm video, pre- and postalarm
video can also be shared to show the events leading up to and
immediately following the alarm. At the same time, the operator can
see live video to determine what is happening at the site in real-time.
After assessing the situation, the operator can take immediate action
with audio intervention using a nearby camera that is equipped
with a loudspeaker. If intruders are warned that they are on camera
and that the local authorities have been contacted, they may likely
flee the area before causing damage.
Moving Toward Integration
There are many possibilities with integrated systems, and this requires
integrators to expand their skillsets with greater knowledge of security
software. It also requires proficiency in ways the technologies can
be integrated together to create customized solutions. The examples
described in this article demonstrate how products that work seamlessly
together can increase facility security, protect sensitive areas,
and make systems easier to manage.
When looking to implement an integrated system, it is important
to choose the technology components carefully. In some instances,
using multiple manufacturers may be required or there may be an
existing video, access control, intrusion, or public address system already
in place that is being added on to. If this is the case, partnerships
that exist between some manufacturers may help to ensure a
smoother integration. Though, it is important to fully research integration
claims to ensure the features needed by the user are actually
In general, with standards, industry partnerships, and manufacturers
that offer a broad portfolio of products, integration is becoming
easier to implement. However, systems from a single vendor that
are designed to work together, can help to speed and simplify installation.
This also helps to reduce total system costs for both the integrator
and the user.
There are many advantages of integrated security and communications
systems, including improving security, efficiency and ease of
use. Integration also allows for systems that are more customized to
solve the unique problems and pain points of each organization. The
capabilities of an integrated system can cover a
wide-range of security and communication issues,
and it is in the best interest of both integrators
and end users to learn about the possibilities
to get the greatest benefit.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Security Today.