The A&E Touch

Historically, architecture and engineering (A&E) firms such as SSOE Group have had limited involvement in the design of security systems for new facilities. Typically, A&E firms would design the building, and then work with a third-party consultant who would assist the owner with the security design and finally, bid out to an integrator. Now, full service design firms like SSOE Group provide all services, including those previously handled by third-party consultants. This allows for security concepts to be integrated with the building design, reduces design costs and streamlines the exchange of information.

Traditionally, security and surveillance systems were often overlooked in the project and not included in the overall budget and key security personnel, such as the corporate security director, were left out of budget discussions. As a result, details of the security system were decided late in the game and homeland security requirements may not have been given proper consideration. This approach would lead to cost overruns and missed project timelines.

For these and other reasons, it is critical to have more comprehensive A&E involvement early on in specifying security systems for new or renovated buildings.

Integrators and dealers reap the benefits

When an A&E firm is involved from the beginning, it ensures that budget and client needs are addressed throughout the project as changes are made to the building. This approach is a win-win for all parties involved-clients, manufacturers and integrators-and results in a more comprehensive solution with greater functionality that is appropriately budgeted at the project's outset.

For the dealer or installer tasked with integrating the system, having an A&E firm involved early on can help eliminate missed opportunities in system design, which in the end can increase revenue for the integrator. Right up until the security system is installed, SSOE allows dealers and installers to submit alternative technology approaches to be considered by the client. While SSOE evaluates various manufacturers to validate which products fit the end users requirements best, having an integrator involved concurrently on a project can be an added bonus in finding the best technology to integrate into the client's security system. Alternatives provided by the integrator that can save considerable money while still providing the necessary level of security are considered.

At the concept stage of a new building project, an A&E firm is able to incorporate the needs and opinions of the security director early in the project. The end result is a more comprehensive and functional system, which may also mean a bigger project for the dealer or installer. The dealer can get a larger chunk of the business and is also going to know exactly what product to install, which reduces his exposure to replacement of products. (Many of SSOE contractors support this approach).

Integrators can also benefit in working with A&E firms like SSOE because of their in-depth knowledge of critical infrastructure and Homeland security requirements, in which many funds remain untapped, some of which are set aside for ports, critical infrastructure, terrorism and protection and other areas for which security is required. By working with the A&E firm, an integrator can help an end user gain the adequate funds necessary to implement a large-scale access control or video surveillance system, benefitting all parties involved in the end.

Minimizing obstacles to successful security integration is another important consideration in the design of a building's infrastructure. IP-based systems now make up about 70 percent of the systems SSOE specifies, and bandwidth issues related to the network must be considered and accommodated early in the design of a building's IT infrastructure. Otherwise, the video system will not perform as desired because of insufficient bandwidth.

With the advent of Building Information Management (BIM), A&E firms are able to provide the end user with a virtual glimpse of the end result of a project. Implementing a security system into a 3D model helps the client to identify and address any concerns before installation begins.

For example, a security director can use a 3D model to view the potential field of view of the security cameras. This will help the director determine if more cameras or other technology are needed to get the right end result.

Get the right team for your project

With building design ever changing, an A&E firm can serve as an integral role in effectively negotiating all important aspects of a security system implementation with the end user before project installation gets under way. For the integrator, the benefit comes in knowing exactly what features are needed as well as the increased scope of the project. The end result is a complete design package in which no concerns are left unanswered.

Solutions Provider Goes a Step above the Rest to Provide Added Features and Functionalities

During the past 15 years, SSOE has worked with such technology solutions providers as Panasonic System Networks Co., Secaucus, N.J., to choose products that meet their customer's needs. Through this close relationship, SSOE recognizes the vendor's efforts in updating their perimeter detection and video solutions (among others) with functionalities that meet SSOE customer's needs, including:

- Aiding in detection and monitoring of unwanted intruders utilizing Auto-Tracking technology, implemented on certain Panasonic analog and IP security cameras;
- Graphic User Interface (GIU) integrated solutions which allow an operator monitoring a command and control center to enable or disable certain functions of a camera or other device without disabling the entire security system on site;
- Taking information that was primarily processed at the head-end and storing that information at the edge; and
- Assisting in the creation of new technologies to meet client needs.

Jim Otte is a senior communications designer at SSOE Group. Reach him at or visit