Strengthening Security with Integrated Systems

Strengthening Security with Integrated Systems

Exploring the capabilities of integration

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 investigation.

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 enhanced security.

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 constant motion.

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 his workstation.

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 supported.

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.

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