Security Integration: Ground Floor Changes

The information technology capabilities of security systems have grown tremendously over the past decade, resulting in both intelligent devices and intelligent systems. Emerging technology has taken intelligence to a new level with systems that run on top...


The information technology capabilities of security systems have grown tremendously over the past decade, resulting in both intelligent devices and intelligent systems. Emerging technology has taken intelligence to a new level with systems that run on top of or alongside our existing systems and that

• respond to events based upon situational awareness,

• provide actionable data in context of the situation,

• identify remote and global situations and events before they create a local impact, and

• keep critical information from being effectively buried when systems are overwhelmed with high quantities of data, such as occurs with an earthquake, tsunami, or power outage.

The existence of such systems impacts security systems integration in four ways.

1. System design and planning must no longer be divorced from security Concept of Operations (CONOPS) design. It has always been important to develop security operations and response scenarios for system design and testing purposes; now it is critical to effective use of advanced security technology.

2. With intelligence embedded in our security systems from the lowest to the highest levels, we must pay specific attention to the roles of intelligence at all system levels during system design and planning.

3. Existing systems used for alarm monitoring, access control, video surveillance and communications can be leveraged instead of replaced, to provide significant new security operational capabilities. This extends the useful life and ROI of existing systems.

4. Powerful and flexible intelligence is often rules-based. In many cases a lot of thought and effort is required for rules development, even when selecting or combining pre-existing rules. There are also resource and scheduling requirements for the development and field testing of rules that must be accounted for in project planning.

Fortunately we do not need to become experts in computers and information technology to effectively design and use systems containing advanced intelligence. We simply need to understand the design and deployment requirements.

For design, we need to identify the roles that these technology elements can play in our systems and their impact on our security operations, both day-to-day and in incident response. That enables us to develop functional requirements for the systems and devices we intend to use. For deployment, we must collaborate in detail with the system provider regarding scheduling, training, system commissioning, field testing and future technology upgrades relating to the intelligent aspects of our systems. Otherwise we won't really get the results that we and our security stakeholders are expecting.

The Roles of Intelligence

This article is the first of two that will discuss the roles of information technology and intelligence in our security systems. We'll start by examining the basics at the system and device level. Next month's article will examine intelligent system capabilities from a strategic security management perspective.

We need both perspectives if we are to identify the ways in which intelligent security technology can help us not only improve our organization's security profile, but also increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our efforts. These are important objectives because, like many divisions of businesses, security is being asked to do more with less. The right application of intelligent security technology can help with that.

Intelligent Devices and Systems

A device is considered “intelligent” when it is controlled by one or more processors (computer chips) integral to the device. One example is a dual-technology motion detector, which uses both infrared and microwave to increase its reliability. A more complex example is a video camera that performs auto-focus, day-night adaptation, pattern recognition, and alarm notification, and which also sends e-mail with attached images.

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