Go deep: Deeply integrated access control and digital video

Networked video and access data allows new possibilities for integration

[Editor's Note: Dave Ella's column is based upon a session that he held at ISC West 2008 and was solicited for SecurityInfoWatch.com and IPSecurityWatch.com readers to provide insight into the idea that integration of video and access control can mean much, much more than simple alarm I/Os.]

The security industry has seen a lot of changes the past five years and the pace of change is increasing. Access control is already on the LAN and is moving towards the edge of the network. Video is truly on the network, and making great strives to become a proactive tool to deter crime. Customers are demanding increased integration, and the pressure is on to provide an all-inclusive solution with installation at a reasonable cost. However, providing a truly integrated solution requires deep links between access control and digital video - deeper than the normal integration we've all come to know.

Understanding deep integration

Why is deep integration important? Deep integration provides faster response to incidents, and increases the level of security. Security guards are more productive, therefore increasing security. It simplifies forensic analysis of incidents, and turns data into information.

Simple systems normally do not have any integration. Video and access control are available as separate stand alone systems where no communication between the systems exists. Operators manage each system separately.

Light integration occurs when video and access control systems send alarms or events to each other but the operator still has to use two or more application user interfaces.

Deep integration occurs when video and access control systems are combined into a single fully functional management interface. The access control and video systems work together to provide real-time information so security guards and other system operators can proactively respond to events as they occur. The systems are combined so closely, the user thinks it is a single system.

Deep integrations usually exist through the use of a Software Developers Kits (SDK) provided by each security equipment manufacturer. An SDK is a piece of software that acts as glue to link two systems together.

Security system landscape

Security systems are now an IT product. Network cameras are gaining market share, and edge-based access control is now arriving. With this comes:

* Increased expectations: Video must become proactive * Increased integration * Intelligent video systems that pass data to access control * Pressure on installation cost

Plan ahead

Planning ahead is crucial to having the best system possible for your needs, and I recommend choosing the access control system first. Learn which video systems integrate with your access control choice prior to purchasing it. No access control vendor integrates to all DVR / NVR manufacturers, therefore if you want a certain DVR or camera, do your homework. A few access control manufacturers integrate or interface with a majority of the market leaders, however, you don't want to get deep into a project and learn that you cannot get a certain third party feature set because your access control system won't integrate properly.

Some access control vendors will engineer a special integration for large projects, but it must warrant value to the manufacturer as well as the customer.

Deep integration objectives

A deeply integrated access control and digital video solution demands centralized command and control from a single user interface.

Installing one integrated management system saves money and headaches. By reducing the number of manufacturers involved, project risk is reduced. Companies take responsibility for their own product complications and "buck passing" is diminished. The more products involved in an installation, the more risk there is for integration complications.

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