As advancements are made daily in the feature rich world of verification, the integrating process continues to be a hurdle. Integrators and manufacturers look to provide an easier solution to bring access control and video together. As this takes place in all corners of the industry, technology continues to march forward and education remains an important but time-consuming task vital to getting the job done.
Before the engineering can ever get started, Bill Bozeman, chief executive officer of PSA Security Network, Westminster, Colo., said, "there is a whole host of support services integrators should take advantage of. This includes training on products, understanding the inside information and selling strategies of these products." Bozeman's company, PSA Security, is a support organization for physical security integrators. The organization works with those in the field of engineering, installation, maintenance, monitoring of video and controlled access. "We offer and stress these services because the integration of video and access control is so technical," he stated. Brenton Scott, executive director of Business Development, Network Access Solutions at HID Global, Irvine, Calif., agreed.
"Security system components, including access control, are becoming more and more technically complex, whereby ongoing, sustained training is now critical to ensuring successful deployments," said Scott. "As a network-centric access control systems manufacturer, we strive to deliver solutions that are as easy to install as possible, however, as these solutions become more IT-focused and technical in nature, the importance of education cannot be over emphasized."
Not all have jumped on board and others are using, as an industry barometer, product sales, as a way to confirm industry growth. A key indicator for integrating access with video is a rapidly growing request for systems.
"Since we are not biased in what we purchase, we purchase what works and what we are seeing now is nearly 60 percent of products going out the door are integrated systems not just camera or card orders, but an integrated system," explained Bozeman.
Paul Cronin, CEO of 1NService, Bellevue, Wash., an organization comprised of network integrators where most members are on the network side of the industry rather than the physical side, mentions that out of 41 member companies worldwide, which he says represent $ 1.4 billion in economic spending, only six are true integrators of access and video.
"While that number remains small for now, I know that number will grow," explained Cronin. "These members have gone down that path because they had a history of being strong data people and they have built relationships in this area of the industry."
Cronin is also quick to point out that two members have found great success selling and working with the government. "The government is purchasing and supporting a lot of the newest applications."
How it is integrated can be a two-pronged approach, according to Matt Barnette, vice president of Sales and Marketing, AMAG Technology, Torrance, Calif.
"The first approach to integrating video and access control is to integrate to third-party video products and legacy systems that customers have installed including DVRs, NVRs," said Barnette. "The second is to develop and support IP video natively within the application."
Accomplishing this can be a matter of integrating via an established Application Program Interface (API) which will add video functionality directly into the customer's application. Using an API offers a set of programmatic interfaces supporting various functional areas of the DVR. On the subject of using open platform software, AMAG, according to Barnette, is an open software and hardware platform that integrates into third party video management systems. "Our products are built to take advantage of the emerging IP video standards ONVIF, PSIA and RACM," he stated.
Using live video integrated into an access control system provides building access verification, according to Perry Levine, senior director of Business Development, Siemens Buildings Technology, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
"The applications are being utilized with access control or alarm monitoring that has video in areas that are monitored-anywhere this is called for, this application should be applied," stated Levine. Creating actionable events to tie video data to the actual alarm details provides for a much higher level of security. "In some cases there are preconfigured integrations which allow for the selection of devices from within the access control applications," Levine continued.
According to Matthew J. Ladd, president of The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa., "financial institutions use it for verification of access to a building with video confirmation. Many of our customers, not just financial use it for response monitoring which allows them to cut back on the use of physical guards."
Much has changed over the last decade moving away from security systems as a "separate silo within a customer site," according to Barnette.
"Access control was separate from CCTV, which was separate from badging," continued Barnette. "A natural progression in the industry was to have one fully integrated system. It is not a matter of where it is being installed, it's a matter of when that customer is going to move to a platform that will allow them to do it."
Using Myrtle Beach International Airport as an example of just how far the industry has come, Barnette said, "the airport implemented an extensive identity verification system to confirm a person's identity before allowing them onto the airport ramp. When an employee swipes their access credential at the gate, the IP camera automatically turns and locks onto the face of that person." This was once not possible and integration in airport security has increased business functions streamlining many operations at once.
Stumbling blocks in managing the integration of access control and video do remain and include, according to Ladd, "the ability for each access control manufacturer to integrate with various IP manufacturers. At times the IT departments are resistant, but through education, we have found this can be resolved."
Bozeman agreed that education plays an important role. "Going from analog to digital requires an open mind that is willing to change," he said. "Through the education process, we have had a great success with integrators that have now accepted change. When integrators are not willing to sit down and learn; technological challenges remain."
Bringing all the verification points together is something Cronin continues to witness.
"With an access control card to get into a building, then a password to get into a laptop-password/pass code management needs to be addressed to manage the assets and credentialing," said Cronin. he explained that there needs to be a more homogeneous way to provide for a single access process for credentials. The good news is there are many solutions available to get the job done, and done well. Including what Cronin offers as, "a pieced, part and put-together approach with an integrator who is scripting and putting all the parts together for a capability," can be an option.
So too can be the partnership approach which Bozeman's network members have found to be very beneficial.
"Even if you don't have the experience, network with partners, but pick them wisely," advised Bozeman. "Doing so will allow you to go after more sophisticated projects."
On the application side, Levine offered this advice: "the best advice is to pay attention to the project requirements, validate that the solution can accomplish the desired results and thoroughly test and retest at all stages of the project."
It makes sense for video to be integrated with access control and other systems to provide a full solution. Increasingly, the end user will look for a single centralized control scenario that integrates video with access, intrusion alarms, environmental sensors and more--providing the truly integrated platform that convergence continues to foster--one that adds value for the the customer and makes it an easier sell as well.
Karen Duane Johnson is a staff writer for Security Dealer & Integrator magazine.