Real Life Stories of Integration Success

Solving the confusion that lack of integration can provide, via well-thought integration plans

Consider: A vice president at a major financial services organization leaves his New York office with plans to stop in at company offices in Cleveland. But once he arrives there, he finds that his access card doesn't work and that he needs special security clearance to even enter the building.

Or consider this: A potentially serious security incident has arisen in the Orlando office of a national banking corporation, but the San Francisco-based head of corporate security can't research the event until the Orlando office mails him the related videotape or he travels to the site himself.

Both of these scenarios deal with problems that can arise when organizations do not have integrated security systems. Wasted time, additional expense and possible compromises in security result when organizational security systems lack equipment integration and standardized procedures.

Of course, most organizations would prefer the enhancements of an integrated system. Who wouldn't enjoy being able to use one access card no matter which office you're in? Who wouldn't prefer the time savings of posting video on a server with an Internet address, enabling instant access and viewing from anywhere? But how does one go about what might seem a daunting task for organizations with hundreds, even thousands of branch offices nationwide?

One way is to work with a security systems integrator with the national scope and capabilities to make such an effort successful on a large scale. The following examples describe two national organizations that integrated their security systems. The companies took different paths to integration, but in both cases equipment was standardized and linked through networking software, and procedures were clearly defined and became uniform throughout the organizations. Both organizations chose to use a nationwide network composed of independently owned security system integrators to assist them in their integration efforts.

Case 1: A nationwide home mortgage company with more than 1,000 locations throughout all 50 states.
Following the events of 9/11, the company's corporate security unit made it a top priority to ensure a consistent approach and methodology across the enterprise with regard to general office security equipment selection and installation. After security selected a nationwide vendor network, the integration project began.

Since the organization had established security equipment standards, it was already one step toward security systems integration. But the integration vendor aided the company significantly by helping to ensure consistent application of those standards.

Each office integration project began with the same process: a comprehensive, internally prepared needs assessment. This was followed by a formal proposal from the security systems integration partner. Feeling that a hodgepodge of equipment would only cause confusion in the installation, operation and maintenance of the many systems, the security vendor decided to use only equipment from the corporate security approved products list.

The list designated access control systems using card readers for most of the offices, with some of the smaller offices still employing key locks. Keypads were specified in some areas, such as data rooms, that require a higher level of security. Alarm panels were also installed in many of the offices, and digital cameras were used in about 75 percent of the company's offices nationwide. Other security components, such as turnstiles and biometric devices, were used only in the larger, mission-critical operational sites.

Following project approval and installation, the system was thoroughly tested before being turned over to the site manager to oversee. For the most part, each office had a standalone system. Corporate security felt there were far too many offices for the department to monitor from one central location. However, the manager of corporate security could connect to the corporate network to view live or recorded video from those offices equipped with a digital video recorder.

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