Roundtable: Retrofitting major security systems

An exclusive STE-SIW online discussion of how facility systems retrofits are budgeted, designed and handled

Mechler: Estimating TCO involves understanding the initial acquisition cost, the operating requirements, labor for installation and maintenance, and the cost savings or other efficiencies achieved from the project. When savings achieved are in hard dollars, the ROI for a retrofit project is much easier to calculate. For example, retrofitting an existing intrusion alarm system to communicate over IP instead of traditional phone lines enables you to eliminate the dedicated phone lines used for control panel communications to a central monitoring station. This cost can range from $15-$30 per phone line, per month depending on your telecommunications service provider. For an organization with multiple control panels, eliminating the need for these phone lines instantly cuts recurring operating costs.
Toscano: Viewing the secured opening as more than a collection of individual components enables the security manager to expand the usefulness of those components. For instance, biometric credential readers can tie directly to human resource management systems, positively affecting payroll and personnel scheduling. Another example may involve remote wireless access readers used for mustering to accommodate large commercial or corporate campus settings. Such applications improve security, lower the total cost of ownership and increase workforce productivity. From an installation viewpoint, given today’s constraints on time and budgets, wireless access control solutions result in substantial installation savings and significantly reduce the disruption that a facility experiences during retrofit.
Hunter: You can realize cost savings by first taking a look at reusing existing materials; for example, alarm devices or locking hardware. Ask yourself: what are we retrofitting and what can be re-used? Are there pieces of the existing system that you can upgrade and not replace? It’s also important to take into account all aspects of the total cost of ownership, not just the initial cost of the retrofit. Think about how you are going to maintain the system and the types of services you are going to need for that maintenance.
What strategies must you employ to ensure a seamless migration from the old to the new system?
Hunter: This goes back to the first question – do you have a strategy and plan that will dictate how you are going to execute the work? Having a plan will help ensure a seamless migration. Take into account if you will be running the old and new systems simultaneously until the new system is fully operational. Also consider when you will test and, subsequently, commission the new system during or after business hours? This will affect your training and communication strategy. You should also prioritize the risk – determine where it’s acceptable to have downtime and which highly sensitive areas need to be secured at all times. Training your security officers and operations staff is crucial to a seamless migration.
Mechler: If the retrofit is going to involve using your corporate network or existing or new Internet infrastructure, it is important to engage your IT colleagues early on in the planning and design stage of the project to ensure there is no delay during the installation phase when it is time to run network cables or create network drops. The IT team can also identify and help eliminate any potential issues that your firewall may pose with the retrofit.
Moceri: In all cases, it is important to discuss up-front what elements of the system need to be online throughout the transition, what can be taken down for a cut-over period, and what access is available to areas of the facility. A 24-hour facility is obviously more difficult than a facility that is typically occupied during the weekday. All of this comes down to project management and execution. On-site project management is the key to ensuring the right materials are available when needed, that crews work in accessible areas, and that problems that will come up are addressed in a timely fashion.