Integrated Systems

Integration" and "interoperability" are buzzwords discussed in the security industry for quite some time-do we dare say decades? The consensus is that having systems that work together is key to effective solutions for end-users in a variety of vertical markets, including residential, commercial, healthcare, transportation and others. But it's imperative that integrators, dealers, technology developers and manufacturers provide open solutions at more than just the initial handshake level and more deeply into the system solution.

If the past year is any indication or a true barometer, it's evident that end-users are aware of the benefits of open platforms and systems and integrated technology and the fact that the move to IP and networked solutions can reduce total cost of ownership and life cycle costs. Here's what industry experts had to say about hybrid transmission systems, emergency and mass notification in healthcare and emerging solutions related to smart grids.

-Natalia Kosk, assistant editor, SD&I magazine







Securing the Smart Grid

By Steven Turney

The smart grid is a relatively new term in security circles. As we head into 2011 and security standards and regulations for this area become more established, the impact on security professionals is likely to increase. With the promise of a new market come opportunities and challenges and a clear understanding of the security needs is essential.

The energy industry and utility providers look at physical and electronic security perimeters differently than most of us in the security industry. From the physical security aspect, the components that go into a smart grid solution include the following: fencing and barriers; signage; visitor management; lighting; cameras; motion sensors; card readers; and other devices. On the electronic security side, communications, networking and cyber security-related items play a role. This is unique because the physical security side of the solution is an area where most traditional security providers are not well-versed.

Before entering this area of the security market, familiarity with the governing bodies and the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards that have been handed down to the owners and operators of smart grid structures is crucial. The CIP standards go well beyond traditional physical and electronic security installations and customers are at financial risk for noncompliance. Systems integrators need to consider wired and wireless network communications, testing and recovery plans, training and audits, as well as documentation and procedures before implementing a solution. Not all energy providers will be prepared to address the various aspects of the CIP standards on their own and will require guidance.

Each type of facility that touches the smart grid requires different types and levels of physical and electronic security solutions. A cookie-cutter approach is not enough to help ensure appropriate levels of security are obtained. Individual site assessments must be performed and each project delivery must be validated against the CIP standards to ensure compliance.

As smart grid decision makers consider their security needs, systems that go beyond the physical security requirements are of particular interest, which creates an expansive opportunity for systems integrators and manufacturers. For example, a system that offers complete automation and integration of substation systems into a centralized command and control solution helps owners and operators improve operations and enhance data flow for first responders-bringing an added benefit in the event of a security incident.

Today, security implications of the smart grid touch various areas including residential spaces, data centers and utilities. In the future, information from these growing areas yield promise for cities and local municipalities as well as state and federal government authorities. Incident and security reports could be shared among all interested parties to identify trends, common threats and possible proactive actions to mitigate risk.

The Smart Grid market represents an opportunity for growth for security professionals across the nation. It is imperative that we respond to the needs of this customer segment with unique and complete solutions to help protect one of our nation's most critical assets.

Steven Turney is security program manager for Buildings Business at Schneider Electric.






Mass Notification Preparedness Must Include a Healthcare Focus

By Joe Wilson

In 2011, hospitals increasingly will look for integrated communication solutions to improve their overall preparedness and response times.

Hospitals use integrated communications technologies to improve efficiencies, speed the transmission of information and better prepare for crises. Urgent notification tools allow administrators to coordinate response to emergencies such as natural disasters, system failures, workplace violence and mass casualties in seconds. Integrated communications can alert through a combination of radio, e-mail, text message, voice automated alert or voicemail.

Ingham Regional Medical Center in Lansing, Mich., deployed integrated communications technologies. Communication tools allow managers to broadcast open shift notifications to all off-duty employees with the click of a button. These same personnel can be called into the hospital to respond to the need for specialized skills or heavy resource demand. The same system can be used to automatically push voice and text messages through the hospital Public Address (PA) system, as well as to doctors, nurses or others via pager, cell phone and e-mail.

Life safety codes are augmented by notification tools that alert those inside and outside of the facility regarding status of the fire detection systems. Security personnel are automatically alerted to floor situations through the integration of panic and duress buttons ensuring faster response.

When looking for an integrated solution, it's important to find one that offers redundant servers to ensure that technology is fail-safe and will not have interrupted services, especially during a power outage. Solutions should offer the flexibility to work for both non-emergency purposes and everyday business operations, which often help justify the overall investment.

In 2011, we expect to see more emergency preparedness in hospitals and other industries.

Joe Wilson is vice president and general manager for Industrial Systems, a division of Federal Signal's Safety and Security Group.






Deploying a 'Hybrid' Approach in Security

By Steve Kuntz

The rapid movement to IP in the physical security industry has introduced a world of opportunity for not only improving and consolidating security networks, but also enabling companies to freely expand their security infrastructure for years to come. These changes are happening quickly, making it exceedingly important for integrators to evolve their customers' security networks in a way that makes sense, both in terms of how surveillance data (video) is captured and how it is transmitted across the network. As a result, hybrid transmission systems have emerged as a smart option for helping companies implement truly customized IP security networks.

A hybrid transmission system utilizes multiple transmission mediums-such as fiber, wireless and copper-to transmit data across the network in the most efficient manner possible. Many extended security networks cover large areas, remote locations and varying physical terrain, with each posing a distinct transmission challenge that is often handled best by a particular medium. If a network needs to extend to surrounding buildings on a campus and no fiber backbone exists, wireless Ethernet links provide an ideal solution. If those buildings are located a significant distance from the head end and dark fiber lines are available, the signals can be brought in over the fiber line. In other words, the characteristics of the environment will dictate the best medium for transmitting the signal.

Offering customers a full menu of transmission options also makes it relatively easy for integrators to expand the reach of the customer's network, regardless of the features of the environment or whether existing transmission lines are present. Specifying hybrid systems enables integrators to address the unique needs of every part of their customers' extended security system, whether it's within the campus, throughout the city or across the country.

Hybrid transmission systems are currently gaining significant traction with residential and campus security applications, due largely in part to the varied nature of the physical environment and the vast areas that need to be covered. However, with a hybrid transmission approach, the possibilities are endless. For example, imagine having the ability to send high quality, real-time video feeds from a camera mounted on the dashboard of a security car-over a 3G/4G cellular network. Or, a network of hundreds of cameras installed throughout a metropolitan city transmitting their signals securely over a public network-at the same level of quality and security normally associated with a LAN. It's happening now, which can only mean one thing: the future of hybrid transmission looks bright as ever.

Steve Kuntz is president of KBC Networks.