Roundtable: Major Security Systems Retrofits

An exclusive STE-SIW online discussion

How should you assemble your retrofit team both internally and outsourced?
Moceri: Working in an existing facility is very different than working a new construction project. In new construction the environment is typically dirty, people are less concerned about making a mess, how they look, and what they say. Retrofit projects typically take place in an existing facility that is occupied and up and running. That means it is a quieter environment, it is clean, the client and their colleagues are present (and maybe their customers). The bottom line is your team needs to be more customer service-focused when working on a retrofit installation. Good communication skills from both your team and any sub-contractors you employ are important.
Hunter: It’s important to determine who your stakeholders are when developing your retrofit team. The bigger the project, the more people it will effect, which means the more people you should involve. If you’re installing a new access control system that will be hosted on the enterprise server, IT should be at the table from the beginning. For your external partners, your dealer or integrator should be involved in the beginning, no matter what the retrofit project encompasses. They can ensure that the technology you have chosen can be integrated into your existing system, for example.
Mechler: In addition to engaging the IT department, you should look for a security dealer or integrator that has employees who are trained on basic networking and understand the language of IT. Your integrator should be able to speak to the IT department in terms of bandwidth and data packets to alleviate any concerns they may have. In the case of intrusion systems, you’ll also want to ensure that the central monitoring station is on board to ensure it is equipped to receive IP control panel communications or are willing to make the small investment required for the appropriate receiver.

How much does the IT department now figure into any major retrofit project?
Toscano: A company's information technology, including its logical security component, must be married harmoniously with its physical security system. Such a platform needs to offer advanced access control, alarm monitoring, intrusion detection, fire alarm, intercom and personal safety/duress systems, credential production, and employee and visitor management functionalities. It also needs to address and enhance security management system capabilities by integrating digital video from multiple manufacturers as well as integration and support for fire, intrusion, personnel and complete facility management.
Moceri: More and more today, IT is involved with major retrofits. There are, however, still two schools of thought in the IT community. Some have invested heavily and have robust networks and are very open to accommodating new devices and applications; others are still of the opinion that if something is not directly related to the business enterprise and supporting revenue generation, the device (including security devices) are not allowed on the network. In both cases, however, IT is still getting involved on major security retrofit projects. Their help has been invaluable as they know their networks and their facilities best. By working closely with the in-house network professionals, you ensure the network not only meets the security system requirements, but also meets IT’s requirements, such as standard switches, servers, cabling, etc.
Mechler: In most organizations, IT owns the corporate network or Internet infrastructure, and they’ll likely want to be included in any decision that involves their systems. In some cases, the IT team will also want to work alongside the security integrator to assign IP addresses and create network drops, while the integrator installs and programs the security hardware. The processes and involvement will vary between organizations, but some engagement with the IT department is becoming increasingly common as more intrusion systems use existing IT infrastructure for IP communications.
Hunter: If the retrofit is going to touch any part of the network, IT figures into the equation; however, if the retrofit deals only with a closed-loop network that Security controls, there might not be a reason to involve IT. The industry is migrating off the closed-loop network, so making the IT department part of the planning and deployment team can be critical.


Brandon Arcement is Manager of Global Security Technology for Johnson Controls, responsible for sales support on the company’s technology, key supplier relationships and integrated security solutions. He joined Johnson Controls in 2004 and has held positions in Sales and Regional Sales Support.

Jim Hunter is senior director of national accounts for Siemens Building Technologies Inc.’s Security Solutions Business Unit. He has 24 years experience in the security industry for multiple corporations. Mr. Hunter has successfully completed the ASIS/Wharton Security Program at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Tom Mechler is the Product Marketing Manager for Bosch Security Systems’ Intrusion business unit, which produces control panel, central station and sensor technology. With more than 24 years of experience in the security industry, Mr. Mechler has held various roles in product management and technical writing and has worked as an installing technician.

Dan Moceri has more than 25 years in the electronic security, fire alarm and life safety, and building management systems industry. He is currently chairman and chief executive officer for Convergint Technologies, a North American systems integrator.

Jennifer Toscano is Marketing Manager for Schlage electronic security solutions at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.