Go deep: Deeply integrated access control and digital video

Networked video and access data allows new possibilities for integration

Security solutions have become more sophisticated. IT's involvement in not only the planning phase, but decision making process creates higher expectations for a product's performance.

Consulting engineers are looking to add value to their recommendations by proposing security systems that provide deep integration with other security systems and also integrate with human resource, accounting and building management systems. Choosing a security solution with these capabilities provides users with a flexible solution that will fit company growth and increased future demands of the security system.

* The complexities are for the manufacturers of the access control and video products to worry about * The most important decisions for the integrator are to pick the right access control system and matching video hardware * An integration provides genuine customer benefits


The available features will vary depending on the access control system, the video technology used and the manufacturer. A single user interface gives the operator or security guard one system to view video and respond to alarms. Operators can view cameras on a map screen and have complete control over cameras during a flashing alarm or incident. When in alarm operators can:

View live video and immediately respond to situations while they are occurring. Replay recorded video to review past events. Operate the pan tilt zoom manually to not miss an event. Schedule and/or manipulate camera tours and patterns based on the current situation.

Tagging video is a logical link to a video clip and is part of "deeply integrating" video surveillance with the access control and intrusion systems. I would suggest that video should be allowed to be tagged both before and after an alarm is triggered. Users should be able to view tagged video from an alarm screen, maps, activity lists, history reports or a virtual matrix. Tagging alarms from an intrusion, building management or visitor management system provides enhanced security. The operator can immediately see what caused an alarm, and actively respond to it without despatching a security guard.

Operators are unlikely to spot incidents if there are too many cameras to monitor. A deeply integrated system should be able to automatically display video to the operator when there are alarms of interest. Alarms can pop up in a virtual matrix, in a new window, or on a mobile device like a PDA. Video then becomes a much more proactive tool.

In a deeply integrated system, any system activity should be able to trigger an automated system response on any of the sub-systems. This is one of the tests of a truly integrated solution. The response might be to lock a set of doors or to swing a camera to a different preset position - the options should be unlimited.

Motion and intelligent video alarms can initiate system triggers and responses. Intelligent video systems - often known as video analytics - create alarms and the integrated solution can trigger a response of any type. Intelligent video will rapidly improve over the next one to five years. As technology advances, users will find more needs for it and intelligent video will create an extra layer of security for an organization.

Many organizations want to move to IP-based video but currently don't have the bandwidth or storage available. Some access control / digital video combinations can be configured to save and transmit video only when an incident or event occurs. Some edge-based storage devices can buffer video to prevent transmission across the LAN, and allow the user to choose transmission time.

The access control system can sometimes provide the glue to link old and new video technologies together. Some systems allow analog switchers, DVR, NVR and IP cameras to be combined to preserve investment, and allow a migration path from analog to digital video.

So, what are the challenges?