Future-ready network design for physical security systems

Feb. 20, 2024
A new free downloadable eBook, "Future-Ready Network Design for Physical Security Systems," explains in detail how physical security system network design has gone wrong and how we can fix it.

In 2018, I wrote an article titled, “Future-Proof” because in the physical security industry, that term had in common use for over a decade – but with different and very limited meanings depending on the product being so labeled.

In the article I offered a new definition that reflected the pace of technological progress. I also wrote, “Today’s emerging products are designed to be part of an evolvable technology infrastructure, and that requires the future-proof attributes defined above [i.e., in the Future-Proof article].”

Six years later, it turns out that we need not only future-proof products, but future-ready security system deployments.

Why Future-Proof
Considerations Aren’t Enough

While the above-mentioned article’s concepts of "future-proof" remain relevant for evaluating individual hardware and software products, there is a new situation that we face.

It is the exponential advancement of technology, which in its initial decades was reflected by its slowly rising near-horizontal line but has now rounded its curve into a skyrocketing near-vertical technology advancement. This situation brings new design aspects to physical security system deployments.

How do we design physical security systems, and their networks, to account for rapidly accelerating technology advancement?

That is the question I focused on in my new free downloadable eBookFuture-Ready Network Design for Physical Security SystemsIt explains in detail how physical security system network design has gone wrong and how we can fix it.

This book is for anyone who has or provides a medium- or large-sized physical security system (or provides part of it). The eBook constitutes a sound common frame of reference for those designing and deploying physical security system networks, whether from the physical security side or the IT side.

At earlier points in time, physical security system capabilities – and thus their value – were always constrained by the technology limits of the time.

Fortunately, that era has ended. We are now embarking on a time when, due to increasingly rapid technological advancement, our own knowledge and design thinking have become the main limitations.

The rate of this technological progression is staggering. To put it in perspective, 40 years ago, 10 18-wheeler trucks could not carry enough computer equipment to rival the radio-enabled multi-purpose computer platforms we now casually slip into our pockets and call “phones.”

So, in light of such rapid technology growth, why are we still building physical security system communication infrastructures using 40-year-old network designs? And what’s more important, what should we be doing now?

Future-Ready Network Design for Physical Security Systems explains in detail how physical security system network design has gone wrong and how we can fix it. This book is for anyone who has or provides a medium- or large-sized physical security system (or provides part of it). The eBook constitutes a sound common frame of reference for those designing and deploying physical security system networks, whether from the physical security side or the IT side.

This eBook is the result of nearly two years of research into networking at large (including IT, IoT and IIoT networks), and physical security system networking in particular.

If you are involved in any security system network design or deployment endeavor, I promise that applying and sharing this guidance will enable a smoother journey and one with a greatly satisfying destination: a truly future-ready physical security system network.

It starts by realizing that a “physical security system” is actually a system of systems.

According to Sandia National Laboratories article titled, System-of-Systems Modeling and Analysis, “The science of System-of-Systems (SoS) is still in its infancy and thus concurrence on a single definition has yet to occur.”

This is natural, because each technology domain and field of technology application has their own specific needs and specific types of systems, of which a physical security system is just one example.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) began developing standards relating to SOS in 2016, and in 2019 released three standards relating to SOS lifecycles and defining terminology relating to SOS. This is an aspect of security system design that we haven’t paid enough attention to, one whose importance is increasing exponentially every day.

TechTarget provides a definition for an SOS that is applicable to physical security systems: “A system of systems (SoS) is the collection of multiple, independent systems in context as part of a larger, more complex system. A system is a group of interacting, interrelated and interdependent components that form a complex and unified whole.”

TechTarget also points out that, “Individual systems in an SoS work together to provide functionalities and performance that none of the independent systems, or constituent systems, could accomplish on their own.”

Thus, it is crucial to consider, for example, the system architectures of each individual system comprising a physical security system, given that the architecture must provide functionality that supports the purposes and requirements of the overall system.

Each system must be evolvable in a way that enhances itself and the overall system, without breaking or diminishing the functionality of the system as a whole or any of its other parts.

Future-Ready Network Design

The backbone of a physical security system’s “system of systems” is its network. Yet this critical security system element is often the hardest to troubleshoot.

A “future-ready” network is a network whose overall architecture and detailed design accounts for the inevitable expansion of its physical security system including the addition of new sub-systems as well as the expansion of existing sub-systems and their integrations.

The modern LAN network design principles and the top-down design approach described in this eBook are fundamental to achieving a network whose high performance and ease of operation and maintenance can be maintained, improved and expanded over time through ordinary efforts and without becoming troublesome and itself posing a risk to any part of the physical security system. 

This is what security industry customers need from design consultants and technology service providers (both in IT and physical security), as well as from manufacturers. It is not only doable – it’s our job. 

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. Mr. Bernard, a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council, is founder and publisher of The Security Minute 60-second newsletter (www.TheSecurityMinute.com). For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to www.go-rbcs.com or call 949-831-6788.