Roundtable: Retrofitting major security systems

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

Arcement: Selecting the right technologies at the front-end of a project can help enable a seamless transition to a new security system. Choose head-end technology that can accommodate both the existing legacy and future edge devices. For example, if you are upgrading an old analog video system, be sure to select a hybrid recording solution that can support this old camera equipment as well as new IP camera and encoder technology. Planning ahead and taking an enterprise-wide approach will help with migration now and in the future.
Typically, what are the most challenging obstacles faced during a major retrofit project?
Mechler: Retrofit projects often include a variety of existing systems that may or may not have the same characteristics. If systems have been installed for a long time, support may not be available or may be difficult to obtain. This can be overcome by choosing a product that is flexible and can interface with multiple types of systems.
Toscano: The growing sophistication and broader spectrum of choices available in electronic access control is leading to greater integration with total building controls and systems. This results in an increase in the economic value of a door opening that goes beyond security concerns. The adoption of electronic access control technology is also redefining the meaning of the term "total opening" in the facility market and beyond. The new retrofit solution must integrate with these needs.
Arcement: The most difficult challenges often stem from unclear or incomplete understanding of a customer’s needs by the technology contractor or consultant. If the scope of the project is not clearly identified up-front, the customer will not get the desired system functionality and business outcomes. Consider these four main areas of security up-front: event management, identity management, building management and compliance management. Event management allows security decision-makers to have full situational awareness of the building; identity management reduces risk by controlling access rights; and building management systems integrated with security systems can further maximize occupant safety, increase productivity, and create operational efficiency. Lastly, adding real-time data from security systems to traditional compliance management software applications enables compliance enforcement, documentation and intervention.
Moceri: There are many potential obstacles with some being lack of drawings or as-builts to fully understand the current installation. Another challenge would be working around the occupants and normal use of the facility. Running into the unknown such as walls that cannot be penetrated or existing conduits that were planning to be re-used are laden with asbestos. Likewise, existing cabling that was planned to be used is not of sufficient size or quality. All of these problems, while challenging, can be minimized with a good initial survey of what currently exists in the facility to identify these obstacles before a project is started.
How should you assemble your retrofit team both internally and outsourced?
Moceri: Working in an existing facility is very different than working a new construction project. In new construction the environment is typically dirty, people are less concerned about making a mess, how they look, and what they say. Retrofit projects typically take place in an existing facility that is occupied and up and running. That means it is a quieter environment, it is clean, the client and their colleagues are present (and maybe their customers). The bottom line is your team needs to be more customer service-focused when working on a retrofit installation. Good communication skills from both your team and any sub-contractors you employ are important.