Our Man in the Field: Pulling It All Together

The essential steps of designing your integrated security system

Somewhere about 26 or 28 years ago, Vicon and American Dynamics developed a technique for working pan/tilts, lenses and controllers together to form a new process referred to as "pre-positioning."

I don't know if these guys truly invented it or not. I was just a lowly installation tech at the time and it didn't matter. Besides, I wasn't privy to the processes of corporate invention. But I can tell you that the first job I ever installed pre-positioning into changed the course of my thinking about CCTV and the rest of security forever.

The pre-positioning was a simple process. Install a three-legged potentiometer on the pan and tilt gears and another pair onto the zoom and focus gears. Feed 6VDC through the common, and measure the output (both the negative and positive) of the opposing sides. Read and remember the opposing voltages from each of the eight points. And, last but not least, guide everything back to those readings upon a command. There were 12 such positions per camera with a three degree return accuracy. All you needed was a high-level matrix controller, a heavy duty pan/tilt and an amazingly large zoom lens.

John Danico, an old friend and a forward thinking perfectionist, was the one that designed us into such modern thinking configurations ... and he did this without fear. His attitude? "I'll put it together and Charlie will make it work." It was a good combination. He taught me to see a whole picture. The equipment taught me that we could do anything as long as we had a bit of finesse and a piece of duct tape.

Next thing that we knew, John was pushing a new product on the market called access control. And before we could bat an eye, this long-ago hero and mentor of mine was thinking of ways to tie the two systems together. But he didn't stop. Alarm systems were added into the combination and then policy and design.

It's amazing when I think about it. Why? Because it wasn't that long ago and yet, to our fast-paced industry it still feels like it was a millennium ago. John was -- and still is -- ahead of his time with the design and integration of security systems. It would be another 10 years from that time before the word "integration" even started to raise it's head. Today, the word and process is altering again and it is starting to be referred to as "culmination."

Why culmination? Because integration just doesn't describe what we are doing. We are now to the point of culminating equipment, processes, data and everything else that you can imagine. No longer do we just tie switches and contacts together in a chattering effort to trigger one thing from another. Today, we feed data streams into screaming, streaming video and tie all of that to everything within sight. We "reach the highest or most decisive point" -- we culminate.

So, are you culminating? I don't know. I do know that if you are not, you will be soon enough. I do know that there is a process involved and that it can become quite tedious. I do know that it is not easy and that there has been more than one occasion when I wish that all I had to do was to make one of John Danico's designs come together. However, we are here to discuss the processes of culminating. All the dreams and wishes of easier times won't pull us out of the middle of this one.

Step one: Design your systems. Lay everything out on paper. Draw pictures of your camera system, with your access control system, with your alarm system and then walk through the various processes and desired affects of every scenario that you can imagine. As you go, write down the required or desired triggers that you want to put together. Then look around and ask yourself what else you can do to make the process of security and business work together.

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