Q: Everybody has heard about integration but what is “unification?”
A: In this increasingly integrated, converged security world, the next evolutionary step will inevitably be greater unification of systems and capabilities—seamless operation back and forth between, for example, access control and video.
“Integration” means that two products work together. “Unification” means that a single, multi-functional application provides unified security, administration, and responses to events. Integrated systems require a designer or integrator to log into the separate systems to program coordinated responses to system events. Failure to program either system properly can cause inconsistent or failed responses.
Two examples will better explain the unified system in action:
1. Unified systems can automatically coordinate the reaction to changing threat levels. During a period of heightened facility security, you can suspend automatic card entry and display real-time live video of personnel requesting access. When employees present a card, that person's personnel photo is pulled from the database and displayed. Security personnel can then manually control access for each card holder.
2. The intelligence from a unified security solution gives you a wealth of statistics you can use to point up and solve security challenges. Let's say at your client's facility, on average, a particular door stays open for five seconds after a valid card read. However, your client does a quick check of today's activity on that door and it shows three events longer than five seconds. The user can click on each event to see video of what happened. Or you can program the system to automatically pop video whenever the door's “behavior” is out of a specified norm.
Q: What about the impact on system cost and efficiency?
A: IP-based distributed processing allows for modular, economical system expansion, so the unified system supports integration as a means of migration from legacy systems and provides a cost-effective bridge to the future.
A unified system means one user interface, which simplifies installation and use. With one common interface, there is no more duplication of system administration and other tasks. A single, shared database also enables improved information correlation.
Using existing IP infrastructure eliminates significant wiring and installation costs. IP network nodes, including cameras and card/biometric readers can all be managed by a corporate network management tool. Unified IP systems also reduce maintenance costs and networking issues are handled by the IT department using standard tools and practices.
More important are the heightened security features made available that include:
• Intelligent security—access control anomalies can trigger video and video anomalies can be used to control access.
• Video intelligence can be utilized by access control to arm points based on an intelligent video event. If a threat is detected by video intelligence, the system can secure the facility entrances automatically without any human intervention or lengthy decision-making.
• Unified access control alarms and video alarms can be stored in a single database for a single point of service and auditing.