Leaders in Surveillance, Access Control and Monitoring Integration

Oct. 27, 2008
An Exclusive Security Dealer Roundtable

Dealers are being told that the network is the future for true integration. Many of you are wondering how this is being achieved and at what price. Security Dealer Editor in Chief, Susan Brady, contacted several experts and asked them to address a number of your concerns.

Susan Brady: Security dealer integrators say they want technology that is modular and scalable. They want their customers to be able to pick and choose among the options they need. Also, as their clients' needs expand, they want the systems they installed to grow along with it. Discuss your company's approach to meeting this request as it pertains to surveillance, access control and or/monitoring.

Robert Siegel, GE Security General Manager for Video and Software Solutions: Regarding surveillance/monitoring, the total scalability of networked security solutions works for any size business. From small stores to the largest enterprise facilities, a networked IP security system scales and functions with the same speed and efficiency and with any feature set required by the end user.

Leveraging presently installed analog equipment, the hybrid IP platform provides increased security at remote locations, which often need it the most. Bottom line, if a location needs watching, the installer simply connects an IP camera or analog camera with an encoder to the network and assigns an IP address.

As with any network, the scalability of a networked IP security system is only limited by the restrictions of the network. Because security devices can be connected anywhere on the network, specific real estate at a specific facility is no longer required.

A company in New Jersey can have all of its security images recorded and stored in New Mexico , or some in Utah , Arkansas and Singapore . Monitoring can occur from anywhere that can connect to the network or the Internet and multiple facilities can be added seamlessly into a network with no special extra equipment needed.

At a single location, cameras can be added anywhere on the network at any time as they are needed, with no new hardware or cabling required. Unlike most analog systems, a networked video system can be expanded without the need for major rework or replacing various system components. With advanced wireless technology, not even a direct physical connection to the network backbone is required. And, with other advanced features like Power Over Ethernet (POE), some network IP security devices won't even require a separate power feed to operate.

Regarding access control/monitoring, GE's Alliance Security Management Platform actually combines access control and intrusion systems into one integrated solution. Built from the ground up, this intelligent security platform grants access control, intrusion detection, video surveillance and communications in one system. Through alarm dealers with central station monitoring services, users can leverage a system using smart card technology to manage their facilities. Monitoring can take place on-site, off-site or both.

Implementing an integrated system, rather than two isolated systems that may or may not work smoothly together, cuts down significantly on installation costs, including labor and materials. Similarly, users need only one panel instead of two, one cable instead of two, and so on. After installation, there is only one system to become skilled at instead. An integrated system also offers greater reliability. And, perhaps most importantly, there is only one monitor needed to view both the access control and intrusion detection systems.

Frank Abram, Vice President Sales & Marketing SANYO Security Products Division: As Sanyo makes the conversion from standalone products to a systems supplier, we are keenly aware of the needs of both our dealers and end users. Our hardware product has always been manufactured with the plan of systems growth to take advantage of the rich feature/function capability of systems in mind.

Moving to a more software based concept, this is also true. The software product currently in our line is scalable. Future product will be both modular and scaleable so dealers and end users may install a system, based on current needs, and grow the system in both size and feature/function aspects as requirements change.

Peter Boriskin, Director of Product Management–Access Control, Tyco Fire and Security: Our philosophy has always been to provide a scalable solution with a scalable underlying hardware platform. Some of the tools now available to us to further this aim, are the managed code environments of architectures like Microsoft's .NET. Here we see this modularity being taken down to the code level, where we have the capability to develop features and drivers completely without effecting the underlying kernel. This equals faster time to market and features that are more in tune with changing customer requirements.

Brady: Many commercial building owners have already installed camera systems, access card readers and other systems. How should dealers convince their customers that there are new ways to improve their security? How will the customer get more of a return on their investment by going from a somewhat simple system that cost around $8,000-$9,000 to a larger, more complex system that can go for a great deal more money?

Siegel: New digital software platforms will not only provide new, more efficient systems, such as with IP-based management, configuration and control, but will additionally enable quick and seamless intelligent video deployment that provide an operations platform for business productivity solutions. We will move from a world of physical switching to one of virtual matrix switching and from physical recording to virtual recording and archiving.

These new platforms, such as GE's VisioWave Intelligent Video Platform will create full-package business solutions that include both software and product suites for specific security and business productivity needs as wanted by scores of vertical market applications, ranging from point of sale (POS) to traffic flow, digital guards, virtual fences and others found in the creativeness of security professionals and the new departments with which they will partner.

Abram: We do not believe this transition has to be financially painful for the commercial building owners. The key is transition. In most instances, there is no need to completely replace the existing system to obtain some of the benefits of integration, scalablity and modular expansion. Instead, it can be a gradual process that allows the building owner to utilize existing analog systems, particularly in the surveillance area, by adding network video servers and management software that are compatible with digital or analog.

By deploying these transitional products, the building owner basically has converted his existing analog system to a network-based system, gaining the benefits of the medium without the cost of replacing an entire system. This approach also positions the building owner to continue the upgrade path as new technology and other IP/network-based products become available. With a network-based foundation, system upgrades can more easily and seamlessly be incorporated into the existing infrastructure.

Although Sanyo is fully committed to the IP/network-based product and industry direction, we are also acutely aware of the transitional period that will exist for the next several years. Our product line is composed of hardware and software designed to address both the networked systems and the transitional phase that is here today.

Boriskin: The customers need to start looking at the total cost of ownership across the system, which includes the personnel that operate it and their time. If by connecting an access control system directly to the ERP system, one could save 20 person-weeks of time in data entry, then one would also benefit by having those 20 person-weeks available for other security tasks, more in line with the overall goal of security.

If connecting the IT permissions to the physical security system, means that there are no lapses in IT security for terminated employees, the value is clear when looked at in the face of potential intellectual property theft.

Brady: In a larger networked security system, how do you think convergence issues should be handled?

Siege l: In the past, physical access control systems have typically resided within the security department, segregated from the rest of an organization's IT department. Meanwhile, the IT department has created an entirely different access system for network or logical access. Today, that is no longer the desired or standard environment. Following this physical access control system paradigm shift, communication between the security and IT departments has become more critical than ever. Sharing the same infrastructure between the security and IT departments not only makes fiscal sense, but it makes security sense as well.

It is the job in physical security to protect the people, facility and infrastructure. It is information technology's job to protect IT systems. Such missions are only successful when a partnership has been formed between the two departments. While roles are different, objectives are the same. By working together, the two departments are able to accomplish things that simply cannot be done without this partnership.

Abram: In a true IP/network-based security system, absolute convergence can only occur through the development of software control platforms. In order for security management software to be developed that conclusively addresses the needs of the industry, rather than product lines that don't communicate with each other, we as an industry must change.

For years the manufacturers in the CCTV industry have t hrived on maintaining proprietary systems. If we are to realize true convergence across the industry, we must establish a standardized open architecture with regard to product protocols. Additionally, SDKs and APIs need to be provided with the new products and cooperation must be enhanced between manufacturers and software developers.

Boriskin: We are seeing the market as a whole moving in the direction of converged systems, for cost, security and flexibility. In a larger system, the benefits are amplified by being able to offload system integration to a converged token. Instead of having systems integrate at the application layer, we have a single token that unifies disparate systems.