Bringing Out the Best
Integrated video surveillance and access control are part of today’s trend
- By Adam Lowenstein
- Apr 01, 2022
Recent physical security trends are all about mitigating today’s risks using highly integrated, open-source technology. Now, more than ever, security practitioners require comprehensive, multi-faceted solutions that can quickly pivot to meet new challenges.
The rapid growth of internet of things (IoT) devices residing on physical security networks, along with the growing demand for automated return-to-work solutions, is driving end-users’ demand for higher levels of systems integration.
This seems particularly true regarding integrated video surveillance and access control management solutions that require traditional security and workforce management applications be tied into building health-safety environments.
Modern Problems Require Integrated Solutions
There are several pressing life-safety issues that all seem to be competing for attention in today’s market. News headlines are dominated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, sporadic natural disaster events, and a rise in retail thefts and general crimes. Then there are the ever-present threats of workplace and school violence and structural fires. These problems have a ripple effect on business operations, leading to disruptions like supply chain delays and labor shortages.
To combat these modern problems, organizations require a comprehensive security solution that addresses multiple threats while also being easy to manage. As demand for these new technologies continues to grow, systems manufacturers are developing new open platform solutions to better accommodate the influx of new software applications, conventional endpoint devices and IoT products.
This cyclical process benefits both security practitioners and the industry as a whole as solutions that focus more closely on real-world problems and challenges are brought to market. These open platform solutions also effectively close the gap between disparate security solutions, allowing organizations to manage multiple system technologies on a unified platform.
A prime example of this is the integration of video surveillance and access control management. The integration of these systems is often necessary to capitalize on new solutions that require a unified platform. Separately, video surveillance and access control systems have long been providing mission-critical security and health-safety protection.
When combined, they bring out the best in each other, providing security professionals and business administrators with improved functions that aid in crisis and emergency event management. In a fire or other potentially dangerous situation, integrated video surveillance and access-control systems deliver real-time information on the conditions in affected areas, individuals in need of immediate attention, evacuation proceedings and more.
When video surveillance is further enhanced with intelligent video analytics, the system’s capabilities advance further. Using powerful artificial intelligence (AI) technology and smart solutions, like facial recognition, can be deployed on a system-wide or selective basis for a wide range of physical security, access control, workforce management and health/safety applications.
This is already being done at some of the world’s most secure locations for opt-in applications, such as TSA clearance, or to locate missing or wanted individuals. To address the need for personal privacy, software applications like video redaction provide the perfect complement to facial recognition.
Also, consider safe return-to-work processes and compliance mandates that many organizations are grappling with due to the ongoing pandemic. Integrated video surveillance and access control can help with these challenges too.
For example, access control can track an employee’s movements throughout a facility while video surveillance can identify who the employee has come into contact with. In the case of contact tracing, the employee, and all those they encountered, can then take the required steps to properly quarantine and/or get tested to reduce the spread of infection within a workplace. Furthermore, video analytics can detect if visitors and employees are not complying with proper health-safety guidelines.
Open-source Solutions Enable Greater System Capabilities
For end-users, the benefits of using integrated solutions go beyond added life-safety protection. Open platform devices can be integrated quickly and cost-effectively, while disparate systems cannot.
Moreover, the administrative burden on security operations is reduced when a single piece of software can be used to manage a multitude of solutions as opposed to running multiple applications independently. Open platform management and control platforms enhance overall operations and enable easy integration of new devices and technologies to supplement core video and access products and applications.
Such technology integrations include visitor management, emergency communication systems, and biometrics and fire alarm systems. Integrating and managing these systems with existing access control and video surveillance is easy when one platform manages it all. In addition, the overall security system’s capabilities grow with each new integration.
Fire alarm systems are often stand-alone systems governed by local, state and national regulations. However, most commercial facilities are required to have their fire alarm systems integrated with their access control system to unlock secured doors in affected areas, enabling emergency egress for occupants and fast entry for first responders. Video surveillance allows responders to view the nature of the fire or emergency in real time.
After the evacuation, user data from the access control and integrated visitor management system can be used to perform a roll call at designated muster locations. All these capabilities can be accessed, managed and shared from one single source of truth — the open platform management software.
Using Technology Integrations to Provide Business Intelligence
As technologies get smarter, so do the organizations that adopt them. Higher levels of system integration, with the addition of smart detection and analysis capabilities, allows organizations to transform physical security solutions into business intelligence. This means businesses can take advantage of the data gathered by the security system and accessible through the management platform to make smarter business decisions.
Video surveillance with open platform analytics offers the strongest case for using integrated technologies for business intelligence. With hundreds of analytics available on the market, organizations can combine and customize them to meet their specific needs.
From facial recognition to vehicle searches, license plate recognition, age classification, occupancy counting, hotspot detection and more, businesses are able to automatically gather data that would be otherwise impossible to gather manually. This is also the case for integrated access control wherein visitor and employee data can be pulled for business intelligence usage.
Organizations can now make informed business decisions using data that is already available to them via their integrated life-safety systems. There is no need to spend additional money on market research and consultants. New marketing campaigns can be launched to target the most popular demographics as identified by video analytics. The layout of a manufacturing plant can now be adjusted to encourage social distancing and limit crowding by using access controls.
The potential for new business intelligence applications is available across every vertical category ranging from retail merchandising to logistics and the supply chain to manufacturing processes.
What to Look for When Evaluating an Open-Source Solution
When searching for the right open-source video management and/or access solution, security practitioners will want to ensure their choice is exactly that — open. Most manufacturers and solutions providers will tout their available integrations, but the first step to “future-proofing” a security system is to ensure the chosen devices and management software work well together., System integration may be possible but not without significant modifications.
When in doubt, directly contact the security integrator or manufacturer to confirm all new and existing systems are compatible and make sure to understand the scope of work required to make them so.
Next, examine the key features offered by the solution. Do they meet the needs of the organization? What sort of features are already built-in that require fewer integrations down the road? Take a close look at the service provider or manufacturer. It is their job to help customers leverage their existing investments in manpower and technology while also delivering new innovations that are both backward compatible and forward-thinking. This requires a renewed balance of customer support and technology innovation.
Finally, consider any hidden costs associated with each new solution. Some solutions may have additional costs for installation, premium features and client or server licenses. Total cost of ownership will be determined by who directly manages the system. Where the solution is deployed, either in the cloud, on-site, or a hybrid of the two, also impacts costs.
New market influences will drive and continue to increase expectations for physical security systems, and thus continue the cycle of new innovations coming to market to combat them. As physical security professionals face new and unexpected challenges across every vertical market, they will be looking for these new solutions to resolve them.
Having integrated video surveillance and access control technologies contribute to both risk mitigation and business development is how integrated system solutions can and should be used.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Security Today.