Beyond security

Challenging economic times inevitably offer opportunity. For the security and life safety industry, the opportunity is helping companies re-think how to achieve profitability.

Tough times lead many executives to cut headcount to reduce cost, yet they expect to retain or even improve productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Initial bottom-line impact is apparent. But the long-term effects are less visible. Fewer people can result in inefficiencies through failure to act on or recognize actionable items in the systems used to run the business. There just is not enough time to review all available data. Eventually, operations and the bottom line suffer.

To overcome this disconnect between doing more with less, ESI educates companies on the significant business impact achieved by streamlining security and life safety systems with business operations across an enterprise through the integration of business systems.

How do we get there?

For senior executives to actively pursue total systems integration, they require an in-depth analysis on how this brings business value to their organization.

With this in mind, life safety and security solutions must be designed based on how these systems might integrate with other building systems to reduce human interaction, inefficiencies and errors. High-level, multi-system integration is achieved through an overall building automation system (BAS). BAS provides a clear path to intelligent, more efficiently run buildings through scalable systems designs that protect companies' investments as technology and their organizations inevitably evolve and grow.

Successful systems integration depends on consistently acquiring extensive and continuous education to ensure customers receive designs that meet the intended goals. Executives are expecting life safety and security providers to be experts in network enterprise applications, building automation and security and life safety systems. This unique blend of knowledge and experience delivers innovative solutions to meet security needs in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Customers also are expecting providers to take it to the next level in terms of constant research and testing of products. Determining how technology functions in the field rather than simply relying on manufacturer specifications will become the norm. Because deep, specific knowledge of how different technologies actually work within different environments and applications is what will produce the best value for customers.

Enterprise-level integration of seemingly disparate systems produces operational efficiencies by unlocking information across systems. But it also improves the effectiveness in protecting assets, people, property (tangible and intangible) and information. Regardless of single- or multi-site enterprises, life safety and security providers will maximize business value for customers only when considering all systems within a business. If a system accumulates data to efficiently control or manage business critical processes, customers will value an approach that considers complete integration of these systems. Consider how much more efficient a business would operate if the following systems shared data.

Case in point

If we integrate intrusion detection, access control, human resources, and HVAC/lighting control (BAS), then we enable data sharing across the enterprise.

When employment or certifications lapse, the human resources database automatically removes or changes access rights in the access control system. Once the last person swipes their credential and exits the building, the BAS turns out lights and arms the intrusion detection system. Upon an intrusion alert the system automatically changes the threat level or locks down doors, turns on all of the lights and an e-mail is sent to senior leadership providing notification of the event. Errors, faults, tampers or other events initiated by any of the systems can generate a predetermined sequence of operations within the other systems.

Other tangible benefits

Cost avoidance through better maintenance also is a huge benefit of complete system integration. Each time an electronic strike is cycled, for example, it is logged in the BAS. After a predetermined number of cycles are reached based on the manufacturer's specifications, a work order is generated to replace the strike prior to its failure. Door status or motion sensor activity also is logged and trended. Analytics on these devices determine device failures and generate a work order for repair.

There is so much data locked away in the many systems found in facilities today. The available examples are much more than this column space allows. When you consider all of the systems within a facility, including fire alarm, video surveillance, single-sign-on appliances, asset tracking, manufacturing processes, video conferencing, and audio/video control, there is plenty of opportunity to produce measureable business value for customers through integration.

Joe Feuling heads new business development for Environmental Systems Inc., with offices in Milwaukee and Chicago. Visit to download the latest building performance, security and life safety trends in "Bottom-Line Sustainability for Business: What's possible-and profitable-about intelligent building systems."