Testing Today's Technology

New Security Equipment Has Changed Traditional Testing Requirements


This is the final article of a three-part series on security system testing. The third installment examines recent security technology trends and the impact they have on the testing of security technology.

Three new dimensions in security system technology significantly change the testing requirements for today's security systems. These technology trends are listed below according to the degree that they impact security system testing requirements:

• Enterprise-wide system deployment;

• Intelligence at end-point devices; and

• Rules-based systems and dynamic integration.

Enterprise-wide System Deployment

Although enterprise-class card access control and alarm monitoring systems have been available for half a decade, most global and national corporations have systems that are not interconnected, and they operate them locally or, at best, regionally. Today, the security benefits of integration with global corporate directories, IT security systems and emergency notification systems prompt the enterprise-wide deployment of access control and alarm monitoring systems.

Increasingly, many companies are shifting from local site monitoring to regional monitoring in an effort to reduce overall security monitoring costs. This is made possible by the proliferation of global corporate networks and the networking capabilities of today's IP-based, enterprise-class security systems. Corporate networking has also made it possible for companies to monitor previously unmonitored sites, using IP-based systems over wide area corporate networks.

In recent years, a new driver has emerged for enterprise-wide deployment of access control systems: regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ( HIPAA) – which both have physical access control requirements. Manual auditing of disparate access control systems is error-prone and expensive. Central automated auditing of access control reduces costs, makes regular auditing at short intervals feasible and reduces vulnerability to lapses in compliance.

Testing requirements for globally-connected and regionally-monitored systems include ensuring that:

• Security systems on the corporate network meet IT department requirements for the type and configuration of networking equipment, and for computer and network security of the security systems (compliance cannot be assumed);

• Regionally-monitored systems have door and alarm descriptions that are unambiguous and identify alarm points for personnel not familiar with the local site (“lobby door,” for example, is almost meaningless in a multi-site system);

• Date and time issues are resolved at the active monitoring center so that event information is properly sorted regardless of the time zone in which it originates;

• System operator privilege assignments correctly limit local operator access to local system information;

• Local monitoring can be performed for critical locations locally or at an alternate monitoring center if wide area network connectivity to the primary monitoring center is lost;

• Both enterprise and local operations (including recording of video) are automatically restored if interrupted by a temporary loss of network connectivity;

• Integration connectivity that may have been interrupted by a temporary loss of network connectivity is automatically restored (or operators are automatically notified that manual procedures are required if that is the case); and

• Both government and corporate privacy requirements of monitored facilities are taken into account in global systems, where monitoring may be performed from a different city or country.

Intelligence at End-Point Devices

There is a wide array of intelligent end-point sensors, including container vibration sensors; smart gas, smoke and temperature sensors; chemical, biological and radiological warfare agent sensors; motion and non-motion sensors; and cameras with built-in object and behavior detection (such as detecting an object left behind in a crowd, graffiti and vandalism detection, slip-and-fall detection, team behavior, counting people in a crowd or line, and smoke or fire detection).

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