How to Create a Seamlessly Effective Video and Access Control System

July 11, 2023
Integrating access control with video surveillance requires a thoughtful approach to data protection and privacy

This article originally appeared in Access Control Trends & Technology 2023, a special bonus publication to Security Business magazine, Security Technology Executive, and Locksmith Ledger magazine.  

In today's security-conscious world, organizations of all sizes are increasingly recognizing the importance of implementing robust security measures. Two essential components of a comprehensive security system are access control and video surveillance. By integrating these two systems, organizations can enhance their security posture and improve their ability to prevent, detect, and respond to potential threats. With evolving information published and available to defeat these systems (YouTube, google, and a variety of web platforms) countermeasures and best practices must be continually developed and improved for integrating access control with video surveillance to deploy the most effective security solution.

Many solutions, whether wired or wireless, have specific pros and cons and it is essential to obtain adequate information on your environment. You must consider where you are deploying your video and access control systems to make the best decisions relative to the cost of implementation and desired benefits, etc. One key decision that needs to be made is the type of centralized management platform you choose. Milestone, Genetec, Bosch, and larger integrators like Johnson Controls and HID offer enterprise multi-vendor products that integrate video and access control systems seamlessly.

Whatever platform you choose, it should provide a unified interface for monitoring and managing both your access control and surveillance systems, enabling security personnel to view live and recorded video feeds alongside access control events. By having a centralized management platform, your organizations can streamline security operations, reduce response times, and gain a holistic view of your physical security environment.

You can also train systems to detect piggybacking, object left, and data analytics that can detect anomalies and deviations of normal activities with your environment. Don’t forget that cybersecurity vulnerabilities must be addressed during this phase and ongoing testing and certification of the systems to ensure exploitation by unauthorized users are mitigated.

Environmental Factors When Considering Access Control and Video Solutions

Regardless of which solution you use, it is important to consider the constraints of your surveillance and access control needs when choosing between wired and wireless solutions. Factors such as the size of the area, desired coverage, security considerations, and budget will help determine the most suitable option for your situation.

The benefits of wired solutions are reliability, security, consistent performance, and power requirements. Wired systems generally provide a more reliable connection compared to wireless solutions. They are not susceptible to signal interference or interruptions caused by obstacles such as walls or other wireless devices. They are also more secure as they are less prone to hacking or unauthorized access, as they do not rely on wireless signals that can be intercepted. This makes them a preferred choice for sensitive areas where security is paramount. Wired systems also perform more consistently since they are not affected by fluctuations in wireless signal strength. This is crucial for applications that require real-time monitoring and high-quality video transmission. Wired systems can also draw power directly from the electrical grid, or Power over Ethernet (POE), eliminating the need for batteries or charging. This ensures continuous operation and eliminates the risk of power loss.

Wireless solutions are gaining ground, almost comparable to wired systems due to technological advancements (especially in cyber and logical security). Most of the benefits derived from wireless solutions include flexibility and scalability, mobility, and ease of integration with IOT/OT systems. When deploying wireless solutions in challenging places wireless systems can be expanded or relocated inexpensively if an access control setup or configuration change is required. Additionally, wireless systems can integrate with other devices, enabling advanced features and automation. For example, wireless access control systems can be integrated with smart locks, enabling remote control and management of access permissions.

Deploying a Secure Cybersecurity Framework to Your Platform

When integrating access control you should also consider implementing role-based access and privileges for video surveillance. Different security personnel may have varying responsibilities and levels of authorization when it comes to accessing video feeds. By defining specific roles and privileges within the system, organizations can ensure that only authorized individuals can view or retrieve specific video footage. This approach helps maintain data privacy, prevents unauthorized access, and reduces the risk of misuse or tampering. It is recommended that Smart Cards be required as multi-factor identity verification for System Administrator and Audit functions.

Integrating access control with video surveillance requires a thoughtful approach to data protection and privacy. Organizations must comply with relevant regulations and standards governing the collection, storage, and use of personal data captured by video surveillance systems. It is crucial to establish clear policies and procedures that secure the handling and retention of video footage and limit access to authorized personnel only. Implementing encryption, secure storage, and regular data backups are also essential practices to protect sensitive information.

AI-Based Analytics and Alerts

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) based intelligent analytics and alerts is another great best practice for integrating seamless video and access control systems. Advanced video analytics can automatically analyze video feeds and detect unusual or predefined events, such as unauthorized access attempts or loitering. When such events are identified, the system can generate real-time alerts to notify security personnel.

Integrating these analytics with access control data enables a more proactive security approach, helping to prevent incidents before they escalate. Training analytics is not always an easy task, but the more work that is done up front makes the entire process easier.

Seamlessly integrating advanced video analytics can analyze video footage in real-time or post-event to detect and identify objects, people, behaviors, and events. This includes features like object detection, facial recognition, license plate recognition, intrusion detection, people counting, and crowd detection. This analytics help in generating alerts based on specific criteria, such as detecting unauthorized access, loitering, or unusual behavior. A one size fits all approach never fits this scenario when creating an effective video and access control system.

Video and Access Control Analytics focuses on analyzing data to identify patterns, anomalies, and potential security risks. This may involve monitoring access logs, user behavior, access attempts, and access patterns to detect suspicious activities or policy violations. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) analytics in access control systems can generate alerts for predictive or actual events like multiple failed access attempts, access outside of authorized hours, or attempts to gain access with invalid credentials.

Behavior analytics leverage machine learning and AI algorithms to analyze patterns of behavior within access control and video surveillance systems. This can include identifying normal behavioral patterns and detecting anomalies that may indicate potential security threats. For example, unusual movements, loitering in restricted areas, or repeated access attempts can trigger alerts for further investigation.

Event correlation involves integrating data from various sources, such as access control events, video surveillance footage, alarm systems, and other sensors. By correlating events across multiple systems, it becomes possible to identify complex relationships and trigger alerts based on specific combinations of events. For instance, if an access control event coincides with a specific video surveillance event, it may warrant immediate attention and generate an alert.

Predictive AI and/or Real-time alerting ensures that security personnel is notified immediately when a security event or anomaly occurs or has the potential of occurring. Alerts can be delivered through various channels such as email, SMS, push notifications, or integration with centralized security management platforms. The ability to customize and prioritize alerts based on severity and context is crucial for effective incident response.

A Hotkey should be enabled to enable the operator to flag a suspicious event or alert for further review, and logs should be maintained for a minimum of three months to correlate potential events to suspicious activity. Quite often logs are not reviewed by humans on a periodic basis, leading to security failures and loss.

AI-based Intelligent dashboards provide a visual representation of analytics results, key performance indicators (KPIs), and security metrics. These dashboards enable security operators to monitor and analyze data effectively, identify trends, and respond proactively to security incidents. Reporting capabilities allow for historical analysis, performance evaluation, and compliance auditing.

Tying it All Together- Logs and Audit Systems

Creating an effective Video and Access Control system is not possible without a comprehensive log and audit system. Access control and Event logs can be generated from various sources, including physical security systems (such as surveillance cameras, access control systems, and alarm systems), network devices (like firewalls, routers, and switches), servers, applications, and user activity tracking mechanisms. These logs not only provide assurance that the systems are working properly, but they also serve as valuable sources of information for incident response, forensic investigations, compliance audits, and continuous monitoring of security measures.

These types of logs capture diverse aspects of security events. Physical security, logs may include video footage, access control records, and sensor data. Cybersecurity logs can include system logs (such as Windows Event Logs or Syslogs), application logs, firewall logs, intrusion detection system (IDS) logs, antivirus logs, and more. Logs must be protected against cyber threats and unintentional deletion one of the first things cyber attackers seek to do is to delete control and event logs to hide their tracks.

By synchronizing and correlating these event and audit logs from video and access control systems you will effectively enhance incident response capabilities, strengthen security measures, and mitigate future risks. The ability to monitor event logs provides a historical record of events, enabling security teams to identify patterns and detect deviations and anomalies – including internal threats from inside your organization.

Linking events from synchronized systems reduces the substantial effort required to piecemeal relevant artifacts together in the event of an incident. Video and access control events, such as card swipes or door unlocks, should be capable of tying corresponding video footage within specific time intervals.

When an access control event occurs, the associated video feed should automatically display on the monitoring screen, providing real-time visual verification of the event. This correlation helps security personnel quickly identify any potential security breaches or suspicious activities, allowing them to take immediate action.

The system logs should be regularly reviewed and evaluated for log content, and log management to enable searching to identify anomalies and deviations and retained for a period required by regulatory agencies or corporate policy.


It is important to remember that each organization's security requirements may differ, so a tailored approach is recommended when implementing an integrated access control and video surveillance solution. While no system is flawless  integrating a seamless video and access control system on a single framework can be a powerful way to cost-effectively enhance security measures and mitigate potential risks. By evaluating the environmental factors, and following cybersecurity standards to prevent security breaches, and deploying intelligent AI-based alerts to system logs, and synchronizing the data --operators can easily make determinations and quick responses to incidents and /or threats quickly and effectively.

About the author:Darnell Washington, CISSP, is the President of SecureXperts. He is an industry-recognized thought leader, educator, public speaker, and entrepreneur specializing in the development, design, and implementation of commercial and industrial technologies in cybersecurity, systems automation, and critical manufacturing. He has developed leading-edge technology for international defense, government, aerospace, commercial and public/private sectors.
About the Author

Darnell Washington, CISSP

Darnell Washington is the president and chief executive officer of SecureXperts, Inc. With over 25 years of professional information technology experience, Darnell is actively involved in the design of secure network information technology architectures. He maintains technical certifications in Microsoft, Novell, and Citrix operating systems, and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

He specializes in high assurance secure network architecture design and deployment, and data encryption using advanced public key infrastructure technologies. Darnell is also the inventor of patented device encryption technologies used in federal and military cloud hosted video surveillance platforms, as well commercial and enterprise public and private environments.
He has served as a subject matter expert on the information assurance forum with the National Security Agency, and as a contract instructor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.