RMR: Nitty-Gritty Command Centers

Command centers need safe practices for success

Having access to a few developers or the right equipment, one can obtain a small sample program created in a few hours to interface the access control system (in this case the Suprema BioLite Net) and a DVR, such as a Honeywell device. A diverse amount of companies will be able to offer you some assistance or a push in the right direction when creating your own version. The two products used for this example offered extremely friendly APIs that were easy to develop. Most DVRs also offer an online interface where a cameras can be viewed remotely from almost any web-capable device.

Once a program is in place to gather the video data and store it with the access control data, alerts can be emailed or sent to a smartphone so the video clips can be reviewed from any location. This can come in handy when a business is closed for the holidays, employees are not staying as long as they should or break-ins are occurring in the area. A similar program can be created to tie an alarm system to the cameras so video documentation can easily be shown to police officers responding to a theft or illegal activity. Be sure to select high-definition cameras for clear video and pictures.


Monitoring the monitoring center

When talking about advanced monitoring centers I often get asked: “But what happens if something crashes?” There is a simple solution to that. We set up software to monitor the hardware and software. You can find lots of solutions out there but I’ve found the most stable and reliable to be Nagios. It has been free since day one and continues to be updated frequently. It allows you to monitor a broad spectrum of critical components even outside of your command center. You can also use Nagios to send an alert if your Web server crashes or even if your phone server goes down. Key features to look for include: monitoring of network services, operating systems, network protocols, smart data visualization, ability to notify multiple people on events and the ability to provide multiple contact methods in case of critical events.

Once you have decided on a software package, set it up to monitor all the key elements of the infrastructure. You must also have processes in place to bring these key elements back up in the case they go down or are compromised. Important aspects to monitor:

DVR Web Interface – If the Web interface goes down the DVR is down, this means you are not recording any video data in the event there is a break in.

Storage Computers – Without a place for your information to be stored the setup may as well be a giant piece of scrap metal. Data is the key to any command center; keep it backed up often and perform regular maintenance and cleanings of the systems.

Monitoring Computers – This is not a critical component, but if a machine is always supposed to be on and it all of a sudden turns off, that’s usually a sign of foul play.

Access Control Systems – Most access control systems provide some type of Web interface; much like the DVR you can monitor this to see if it goes off line. The most common reasons for the interface going offline are due to a power outage or being smashed off the wall.

By monitoring all elements of business security, both network and physical, you can provide your customers and staff the peace of mind of a secure work environment while protecting yourself from everyday threats. Once you have the basic setup the sky is the limit. Continue to upgrade your command center until you have something similar to the movies and become the envy of every computer crazy tech guy out there.



Andrew Burton is the access control expert, Web developer and technician for Intelligent Biometric Controls Inc., www.ibcbiometrics.com. He can be reached at andrewb@ibcbiometrics.com.