Convergence and integration are terms being used constantly in the electronic security world. Rightly so, because these techniques are shaping security at every level of the channel. While system integration has been practiced to a certain degree by dealers for as long as there has been an alarm industry, other elements of the supply channel have come around and done their part to transform what the end users expect and the way the industry provides security.
The computer revolution has helped to set the stage for much of the this transformation by providing the scalable and cost effective hardware and the infrastructure which was readily adapted for security applications. It is agreed that security has gained an increased awareness in society. In turn, it is fostering demand for turnkey integrated systems.
The appearance of such types of systems in new construction plans and bid specs are becoming apparent. The result has also brought major corporations and conglomerates into the arena of security vendors. Consequently, the security vendor landscape has and continues to evolve into one comprised of fewer, but larger, multi-national enterprises. A major impact of this development is that integrated solutions are now easier to obtain.
Every day dealers are encountering clients who articulate a request for consolidated systems. The end users want faster and simpler solutions, using fewer vendors. Whenever given the choice to select a single source security provider, as opposed to having to deal with several, a growing number of dealers say they are opting for the single source security solution.
Alliances between a number of different disciplines are now often being coordinated by a prime contractor. The prime contractor brings in the subs, handles the paperwork, and is the single point liaison for the client (who doesn't want to know how the system will be provided, but simply when it will be completed).
The equipment available is also changing. It's relying more on unitized platforms and network protocols for communications, processing and archiving. The results are combined functionality, and a unitized control, monitoring and user-interface.
Putting the Pieces Together As One
Integrating systems involves interfacing the various elements of premises security and monitoring in order to provide a coherent body of archived, as well as real time data, processing power to analyze the data, and appropriate response mechanisms to react to the situation. More than ever before, successful system integration demands that a synergy exist between the subsystems as well as the various vendors. These entities include the dealer, his installers, engineers and salespeople, as well as the end user, its department managers and employees.
Proper coordination is necessary so that the system will be understood, more readily accepted, and therefore perform its functions most effectively. Below are various aspects of an integrated system:
Interfacing Multiple Systems
This can mean an automatic infrastructure interface between systems over a buss or network, or the availability of subsystem activity reports and control of the subsystems in a specific area or over workstations. More automatic independent operation is required for unmanned sites. It is essential that as many end user personnel as possible are familiar with the features and operation of the system so that malfunctions can be more readily identified and addressed. This means training be provided by the installing dealer.
Cards, IDs & Entry Data
Cards and data have further fostered the consolidation of security and centralized administration by permitting a single credential to perform multiple functions for security, access control and other auxiliary purposes within the domain of the global security management system. Inherent in the design of these systems is the ability to develop Access Levels within the population credentials to precisely define credential authorizations based on many design criteria. Most installers will recognize this nomenclature already widely used to separate user codes and installer administrator privileges. Levels are more highly definable and may be based on any number of other criteria, such as geographic location, time zones, and functionalities.