A Roadmap to an Enterprise-Wide Security Solution

Where to begin and what to expect throughout the process

A small retail business has successfully found a niche market in today’s economy and is expanding from its single site to several new stores in different cities. Company officials still want to monitor security from one central location. The challenge is going from one location to four locations while still maintaining a quality level of monitoring.
A medium-sized manufacturer with two plants, several warehouses, fleet centers and other facilities based across two states, has long had a successful analog-based security system. Yet, the cameras are failing, and managers want to upgrade and future-proof the system without exceeding the security budget.
These are just two of many examples of organizations that are expanding or upgrading a security system with an interest in using a computer network to accomplish their goals. It will mean learning a new vocabulary and skill set. It will require choosing new equipment. It will involve bringing other employees into the effort. It will likely call for qualified and experienced outside help to design and install the solution.
For those looking to make the move to network-based systems, here is a beginning roadmap to enterprise security.

Dealing with IT
I have been involved in helping create enterprise solutions for customers as far back as 2000. One of the key goals with an enterprise solution is to have the ability to integrate multiple facilities at different locations with one platform that can create operational efficiencies and maximize the overall investment — whether it is strictly access, strictly video or a combination of both.
In every case, there will be a requirement to get the information technology people involved. Enterprise solutions will touch the corporate network, and IT will play an important role in making a new security system work effectively.
Some may say that IT professionals are not knowledgeable about security needs and will just get in the way of a security director or an integrator; however, IT does play an important role in a successful installation. The fact is, security professionals need the knowledge of the IT professionals to successfully implement the latest technologies. Building mutual respect is key to a successful working relationship. The more astute the security professional is about how the IT community works and how we need to communicate with them, the quicker we will get their buy-in and the more successful we will be.
The most common issue in dealing with IT is network bandwidth. All networks have finite space to move data, so the allocation of bandwidth and the impact security devices will have on the network is one of the first issues to be resolved. Sometimes it may be as basic as convincing IT that security systems are important enough to be on the network.
Another issue can be the firewall that helps protect the network. How will security devices affect the firewall while maintaining the level of network security required by IT?
Video and Bandwidth Issues
Video will, by far, place more demands on the network than any other data that might be sent from other security systems such as access control or intrusion devices. One way we can limit video bandwidth needs is to record on the edge — that is at the camera — and only transmit during alarm situations. That way, static information such as video of a doorway that never opens is not recorded.
Video analytics that use complicated algorithms to review video and create alarms when pre-defined rules (such as a door opening) are violated can be a big factor in managing bandwidth needs. Again, video is only transmitted across the network during an event-driven situation.
Your IT department may be comfortable creating a virtual local area network (VLAN). This is a segment of the network that is allocated specifically for security. It enables security to know exactly what it has to work with and gives IT the comfort of knowing security will not get outside of its boundaries, creating a negative impact on the network.
Making use of recording on the edge, analytics and a VLAN are three significant ways security professionals can work harmoniously with IT professionals on the transmission of video.
Also, event-driven information does not have to come from video analytics. It may be an alarm created by a motion detector, a glass break or door contact. Even in these cases, video is only moved over the network when someone needs to pay attention to an event.
Access control also requires network bandwidth. The needs are far less than those of video and it may be possible in some cases to tie security department needs with other corporate organizations. For example, linking human resources’ hiring and termination processes to identification badging can result in the immediate addition or subtraction of employees from the access system. This limits excess information in the databases and makes for a more effective and efficient enterprise solution.

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