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Demand increases for specialist IT skills among security system integrators
Demand increases for specialist IT skills among security system integrators

How can security system integrators not just survive but thrive in today’s IT-led market? The key seems to be in training. As increasingly more clients look to integrate access control with IT environments, they want integrators with the specialist skills to achieve this. For integrators that don’t invest in training, the risk is being left behind. Because many security system integrators aren’t providing specialist IT support, manufacturers are now offering services to make implementations and integrations easier. This isn’t a scalable or desirable option for many manufacturers though, they don’t want to become integrators. The result? Manufacturers will be pushed into developing products that can be integrated with IT networks off the shelf. And this isn’t necessarily the best option for end user, manufacturer or integrator. With a growing number of cloud-based security solutions, integrators also face the threat of clients opting for installation-only services. How security system integrators can survive and thrive today It’s not all doom and gloom for security system integrators though. To avoid becoming redundant, or being downgraded to simple access control installers, there’s lots you can do to strengthen your position. Listen carefully Many integrators are reluctant to do this, but it’s a great way to demonstrate the depth of your experienceOne of the first ways you can distinguish yourself from your competitors is by really listening to what your clients want and need. You can then translate this into a security or access control application tailored carefully to them. Many integrators are reluctant to do this, but it’s a great way to demonstrate the depth of your experience and product knowledge. It’s far superior to carrying out a standard implementation, which can leave clients feeling they’ve not been listened to or given good value. Up your IT knowledge TCP/IP has become the standard for communication between devices and central server applications in access control and security in general. So every technician now needs to know how to connect IP devices to networks and configure them in the central application. This is only the tip of the iceberg though, there’s so much more that integrators now need to be proficient in when it comes to IT. From understanding a client’s WAN, LAN and VPN networks to back-up systems, encryption technologies, key management and transparent communication. It’s also important to know how to integrate applications at server level, whether you’re integrating two or more security systems or a HR database. Most integrators have begun to invest in one or two IT experts, but this usually isn’t enough to meet clients’ needs. To really stay ahead, it’s crucial to invest more heavily in IT training and expertise. Choose your portfolio carefully When considering your portfolio, ensure you check the background of each product’s manufacturer Ideally, your portfolio should be small but rich, which is more difficult than it sounds. Choosing products that will scale easily is complex, and you need to consider the potential for increased functionality or connectivity as well as scalability. When considering your portfolio, make sure you check the background and outlook of each product’s manufacturer. You don’t want to select items that are likely to be discontinued in the near future, which can often happen after a manufacturer is acquired, for example. Get in the cloud In the security market, the mid and low segments are already shifting to cloud-based solutions that need neither integration nor IT skills. This leaves you with opportunities for just installation and maintenance services, where profit opportunities are reduced. An alternative is to begin selling cloud-based security services yourself to help you attract and retain clients for the long-term. Give clients added commercial value As competition increases and budgets shrink, offering added value, to new and existing clients, is a vital way to differentiate your business. This will help you to not just defend against competitors but to grow your business and increase your profitability. Configuring access control reports for clients is just one example. It’s relatively straightforward to do but provides really valuable insight into visitor flow. This can then enable them to, for example, staff reception adequately and provide sufficient catering, which all improves the experience for visitors and employees. Providing this kind of consultative service, instantly pushes you up the value chain. Stay agile and well informed To survive and grow as a security system integrator today, the upshot is that it’s crucial to keep pace with the market’s ever-changing trends, technology and client needs. And, to make sure you’re ready to adapt and give clients the services they want, it’s vital to give your people the in-depth training they need.

Blending physical security with convenience is no simple task
Blending physical security with convenience is no simple task

Back in the 1960s a lead engineer working in conjunction with the United States Navy for Lockheed’s Skunk Works team coined the acronym KISS, which translated to the design principle ‘keep it simple stupid’.  The KISS principle embraces the concept of simplicity, stating that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than geared up to be more complicated. When it comes to physical security systems, this concept can also play a key element in its overall success. Secure work environments For years the tug of war in the security industry has pitted the need for a secure environment against the desire for technology that is convenient for users. However, finding a happy medium between the two has often seemed elusive. I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security" Jeff Spivey, a security consultant and the CEO of Security Risk Management, has this to say about it, “If there is an understanding of the security-related risks and their separate and/or collective impact on the organisation’s bottom line business goals, a resolution can be reached.” Jeff also does not think that convenience and high security have to be opposing each other. He says, “I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security.” Importance of secure access control The premise is that for organisations and spaces to be truly secure, they must be difficult to access. So, by its very nature, access control is designed to be restrictive, allowing only authorised staff and visitors to access a facility or other secured areas inside. This immediately puts convenience at odds with security. Most people will tolerate the restrictive nature of a controlled entrance using badge, card or biometric because they understand the need for security. When that technology gets in the way of staff traversing freely throughout the facility during the course of a business day, or hindering potential visitors or vendors from a positive experience entering the building, they become less tolerant, which often leads to negative feedback to the security staff. Enhancing corporate security Security consultants like Spivey and security directors all stress that understanding the threats and risk levels of an organisation will most likely dictate its physical security infrastructure and approach. All the technology in the world is useless if it is not embraced by those who are expected to use it and it doesn’t fit the culture of the organisation. Once employees and customers are educated about what security really is, they understand that they're not losing convenience, they're gaining freedom to move safely from point A to point B. Converged data and information shape new access options Migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform is a game-changer for security technologies The migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform has been a game-changer for emerging security technology options. The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), Near-Field Communication devices powered by Bluetooth technology, and the explosion of converged information systems and identity management tools that are now driving access control are making it easier than ever before for employees and visitors to apply for clearance, permissions and credentials. Wireless and proximity readers Advancements in high-performance wireless and proximity readers have enhanced the user’s access experience when presenting credentials at an entry and expediting movement throughout a facility. A user is now able to access a secured office from street-level without ever touching a key or card. Using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or triggering a facial recognition technology, they enter the building through a security revolving door or turnstile. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience, as well as seamless security, when access technology is integrated into other systems like elevator controls. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience and seamless security How to Meet Security Concerns at the Entry While security managers are charged with providing their facilities the maximum level of security possible, there is always the human element to consider. But does the effort to make people comfortable with their security system ecosystem come at a cost? Does all this convenience and the drive to deliver a positive security experience reduce an organisation’s overall levels of security? And if so, how can we continue to deliver the same positive experience including speed of entry – while improving risk mitigation and threat prevention? Door entrances, barriers Users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through Let’s examine some of the various types of entrances being used at most facilities and the security properties of each. With some entrance types, there is the possibility for security to fall short of its intended goals in a way that can’t be addressed by access control technology alone. In particular, with many types of doors and barriers, tailgating is possible: users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through. To address this, many organisations hire security officers to supervise the entry. While this can help to reduce tailgating, it has been demonstrated that officers are not immune to social engineering and can often be “talked into” letting an unauthorised person into a facility. Deploying video cameras, sensors Some organisations have deployed video surveillance cameras or sensors to help identify tailgaters after the fact or a door left open for longer than rules allow. This approach is not uncommon where facilities have attempted to optimise throughput and maintain a positive experience for staff and visitors. Security staff monitoring the video feeds can alert management so that action can be taken – but this is at best a reactive solution. It does not keep the unauthorised persons from entering, and so is not a totally secure solution. Optical turnstiles, speedgates Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself. Not all security entrances work the same way. And, there will always be a balance between security and convenience – the more secure the entry, the less convenient it is for your personnel and visitors to enter your facility. For example, it takes more time to provide 2-factor authentication and enter through a mantrap portal than to provide only one credential and enter through an optical turnstile or speedgate. Perimeter protection So, it is an important first step to determine what is right at every entrance point within and around the perimeter. Remember that convenience does not equate to throughput. Convenience is the ease and speed of entry experienced by each individual crossing that threshold, while throughput relates to the speed at which many individuals can gain access to the facility. A more convenient entry makes a better first impression on visitors and is good for overall employee morale. Throughput is more functional; employees need to get logged in to begin their workday (and often to clock in to get paid), and they quickly become frustrated and dissatisfied when waiting in a long line to enter or exit the premises. Considering form and function when designing a security entrance can ensure that those requiring both high-security and convenience are appeased.

Home monitoring at the edge: Advanced security in the hands of consumers
Home monitoring at the edge: Advanced security in the hands of consumers

Imagine a home surveillance camera monitoring an elderly parent and anticipating potential concerns while respecting their privacy. Imagine another camera predicting a home burglary based on suspicious behaviors, allowing time to notify the homeowner who can in turn notify the police before the event occurs—or an entire network of cameras working together to keep an eye on neighborhood safety. Artificial Intelligence vision chips A new gen of AI vision chips are pushing advanced capabilities such as behavior analysis and higher-level security There's a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) vision chips that are pushing advanced capabilities such as behavior analysis and higher-level security to the edge (directly on devices) for a customisable user experience—one that rivals the abilities of the consumer electronics devices we use every day. Once considered nothing more than “the eyes” of a security system, home monitoring cameras of 2020 will leverage AI-vision processors for high-performance computer vision at low power consumption and affordable cost—at the edge—for greater privacy and ease of use as well as to enable behavior analysis for predictive and preemptive monitoring. Advanced home monitoring cameras With this shift, camera makers and home monitoring service providers alike will be able to develop new edge-based use cases for home monitoring and enable consumers to customise devices to meet their individual needs. The result will be increased user engagement with home monitoring devices—mirroring that of cellphones and smart watches and creating an overlap between the home monitoring and consumer electronics markets. A quick step back reminds us that accomplishing these goals would have been cost prohibitive just a couple of years ago. Face recognition, behavior analysis, intelligent analytics, and decision-making at this level were extremely expensive to perform in the cloud. Additionally, the lag time associated with sending data to faraway servers for decoding and then processing made it impossible to achieve real-time results. Cloud-based home security devices The constraints of cloud processing certainly have not held the industry back, however. Home monitoring, a market just seven years young, has become a ubiquitous category of home security and home monitoring devices. Consumers can choose to install a single camera or doorbell that sends alerts to their phone, a family of devices and a monthly manufacturer’s plan, or a high-end professional monitoring solution. While the majority of these devices do indeed rely on the cloud for processing, camera makers have been pushing for edge-based processing since around 2016. For them, the benefit has always been clear: the opportunity to perform intelligent analytics processing in real-time on the device. But until now, the balance between computer vision performance and power consumption was lacking and camera companies weren’t able to make the leap. So instead, they have focused on improving designs and the cloud-centric model has prevailed. Hybrid security systems Even with improvements, false alerts result in unnecessary notifications and video recording Even with improvements, false alerts (like tree branches swaying in the wind or cats walking past a front door) result in unnecessary notifications and video recording— cameras remain active which, in the case of battery powered cameras, means using up valuable battery life. Hybrid models do exist. Typically, they provide rudimentary motion detection on the camera itself and then send video to the cloud for decoding and analysis to suppress false alerts. Hybrids provide higher-level results for things like people and cars, but their approach comes at a cost for both the consumer and the manufacturer. Advanced cloud analytics Advanced cloud analytics are more expensive than newly possible edge-based alternatives, and consumers have to pay for subscriptions. In addition, because of processing delays and other issues, things like rain or lighting changes (or even bugs on the camera) can still trigger unnecessary alerts. And the more alerts a user receives, the more they tend to ignore them—there are simply too many. In fact, it is estimated that users only pay attention to 5% of their notifications. This means that when a package is stolen or a car is burglarised, users often miss the real-time notification—only to find out about the incident after the fact. All of this will soon change with AI-based behavior analysis, predictive security, and real-time meaningful alerts. Predictive monitoring while safeguarding user privacy These days, consumers are putting more emphasis on privacy and have legitimate concerns about being recorded while in their homes. Soon, with AI advancements at the chip level, families will be able to select user apps that provide monitoring without the need to stream video to a company server, or they’ll have access to apps that record activity but obscure faces. Devices will have the ability to only send alerts according to specific criteria. If, for example, an elderly parent being monitored seems particularly unsteady one day or seems especially inactive, an application could alert the responsible family member and suggest that they check in. By analysing the elderly parent’s behavior, the application could also predict a potential fall and trigger an audio alert for the person and also the family. AI-based behavior analysis Ability to analyse massive amounts of data locally and identify trends is a key advantage of AI at the edge The ability to analyse massive amounts of data locally and identify trends or perform searches is a key advantage of AI at the edge, for both individuals and neighborhoods. For example, an individual might be curious as to what animal is wreaking havoc in their backyard every night. In this case, they could download a “small animal detector” app to their camera which would trigger an alert when a critter enters their yard. The animal could be scared off via an alarm and—armed with video proof—animal control would have useful data for setting a trap. Edge cameras A newly emerging category of “neighborhood watch” applications is already connecting neighbors for significantly improved monitoring and safety. As edge cameras become more commonplace, this category will become increasingly effective. The idea is that if, for example, one neighbor captures a package thief, and then the entire network of neighbors will receive a notification and a synopsis video showing the theft. Or if, say, there is a rash of car break-ins and one neighbor captures video of a red sedan casing their home around the time of a recent incident, an AI vision-based camera could be queried for helpful information: Residential monitoring and security The camera could be asked for a summary of the dates and times that it has recorded that particular red car. A case could be made if incident times match those of the vehicle’s recent appearances in the neighborhood. Even better, if that particular red car was to reappear and seems (by AI behavior analysis) to be suspicious, alerts could be sent proactively to networked residents and police could be notified immediately. Home monitoring in 2020 will bring positive change for users when it comes to monitoring and security, but it will also bring some fun. Consumers will, for example, be able to download apps that do things like monitor pet activity. They might query their device for a summary of their pet’s “unusual activity” and then use those clips to create cute, shareable videos. Who doesn’t love a video of a dog dragging a toilet paper roll around the house? AI at the Edge for home access control Home access control via biometrics is one of many new edge-based use cases that will bring convenience to home monitoring Home access control via biometrics is one of many new edge-based use cases that will bring convenience to home monitoring, and it’s an application that is expected to take off soon. With smart biometrics, cameras will be able to recognise residents and then unlock their smart front door locks automatically if desired, eliminating the need for keys. And if, for example, an unauthorised person tries to trick the system by presenting a photograph of a registered family member’s face, the camera could use “3D liveness detection” to spot the fake and deny access. With these and other advances, professional monitoring service providers will have the opportunity to bring a new generation of access control panels to market. Leveraging computer vision and deep neural networks Ultimately, what camera makers strive for is customer engagement and customer loyalty. These new use cases—thanks to AI at the edge—will make home monitoring devices more useful and more engaging to consumers. Leveraging computer vision and deep neural networks, new cameras will be able to filter out and block false alerts, predict incidents, and send real-time notifications only when there is something that the consumer is truly interested in seeing. AI and computer vision at the edge will enable a new generation of cameras that provide not only a higher level of security but that will fundamentally change the way consumers rely on and interact with their home monitoring devices.

Latest Nortech Control Systems Ltd news

Nortech suggests Nedap ANPR Lumo system to enhance vehicle security
Nortech suggests Nedap ANPR Lumo system to enhance vehicle security

No one enjoys parking, but it is a necessary step in a journey to an end destination. To make the process easier, access control specialists Nortech suggest that secure sites like staff car parks and parking areas in luxury apartment blocks, holiday parks and caravan sites can benefit from Nedap’s latest Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Lumo system. The Lumo combines ANPR and access control in one single unit to create an easy to install standalone system that has the option to easily configure time-based access control lists via the ANPR Lumo Web interface. Free flowing vehicle access Generating an approved number plate list is also simple whether it is for permanent residents or staff as the ANPR Lumo can be used to grant temporary access to controlled areas for visitors, holiday makers and touring caravans. Providing 24-hour access to secure sites or car parks is automated by entering the relevant vehicle’s number plate into the system. ANPR systems have been around for a number of years and can deliver substantial benefits When pre-approved vehicles turn up, the barrier will open allowing free flowing vehicle access in and out of any secure site and access can equally be removed or revoked at any time using the ANPR Lumo’s web interface. ANPR systems have been around for a number of years and can deliver substantial benefits to secure site operators and consumers alike. Its technology was created to help end queuing at barriers and is an ideal standalone solution for busy sites which require secure vehicle access. Creating new security products The ANPR Lumo is an all-in-one licence plate camera, including embedded software, analyser and IR illuminator. With a range of action of 2 to 10 metres, the advanced camera ensures a smooth recognition of vehicles. Easy to install with a mounting bracket included as standard, the camera boasts user-friendly configuration, is equipped with a REST API for easy integration and supports the industry-standard communication interfaces: RS485, Wiegand and Ethernet. The ANPR Lumo is manufactured by Nedap Identification Systems but is supplied and supported in the UK by people and vehicle access control specialist Nortech. Nortech has supplied products and solutions to the security industry for over 25 years as an independent British company. The company uses extensive experience and expertise to create new security products to fit their clients’ needs and designs everything with the customer in mind.

Nortech stresses on access control systems to effectively secure, manage hospitals and residential care homes
Nortech stresses on access control systems to effectively secure, manage hospitals and residential care homes

Often spread over large premises, housing expensive equipment and with a high number of visitors accessing the site every day, care homes face numerous threats. Care home safety and security is a big issue, and ensuring the safety of patients, staff, visitors and assets is a top priority but also a challenge, so by installing access control systems workers are able to easily manage areas around a building. Access control systems can also carry out functions such as time and attendance, staffing level management and parking management. “Access control systems are increasingly being used to enhance safety and security in residential care homes by restricting and monitoring the movement of staff, residents and visitors without impacting on the residents’ everyday lives,” say access control specialists, Nortech. “Installing an effective access control system not only provides a flexible form of security but also one that is bespoke to each individual site.” Importance of access control systems Access control can be anything from hard copy visitor books through to identity cards for doors, gates and vehicle barriers Access control allows staff to manage, control, monitor and restrict the movement of people or vehicles in, out and around an individual site. Access control can be anything from hard copy visitor books through to identity cards for doors, gates and vehicle barriers. Access control systems can be easily installed to ensure that only authorised persons can access specific areas. In more sophisticated facilities, systems can also be used to restrict access to areas that need to be kept separate for the safety of other patients, such as isolation rooms. Access control solutions in care homes Care homes are known to be targets for criminals because they hold valuable goods such as computers and IT equipment and sensitive patient data as well as the personal possessions of staff, visitors and patients. To combat this and deter thieves, a growing number of premises are now installing access control systems to offer instant, flexible protection. One system Nortech can offer is a hands-free access control solution which is both secure and user-friendly. This Nortech system uses Nedap’s uPASS access readers which offer both convenience and security. UHF ID badges and uPASS access readers Each member of staff is issued with a long-range (UHF) electronic ID badge that they carry on a lanyard or clip. The UHF ID badges are automatically read by the uPASS readers at a distance of up to 2m allowing staff access though doors without the need to physically present their ID card to the reader. Two advantages of this hands-free system are that it allows staff to push trolleys or wheelchairs or to carry equipment easily around a care home whilst also avoiding the spread of germs or viruses through constant contact with door handles. Integrating access control system with security solutions Access control systems can work on a small scale for just one door or used as part of a wider security system The ease of integrating access control with other security measures is another reason why the system is so appealing, as access control software enables hospitals and care homes to provide even tougher protection for their sites. The systems are often effectively linked to the likes of CCTV, property marking, perimeter protection or intruder alarms. Access control systems can also work on a small scale for just one door, as well as being used as part of a wider security system. They provide users with a great deal of flexibility according to individual requirements. Enhancing security of hospitals, residential care homes By using access control as a method of security, different authorisation levels can be easily set, thereby preventing people from accessing areas they do not have clearance for. New photo ID cards can also be created instantly for new staff or if a replacement is required. Electronic access control systems are increasingly being used to enhance safety and security in hospitals and residential care homes. In these environments, staff often needs to gain access through doors while escorting patients in wheelchairs or beds or when carrying sterile equipment, etc. so hands-free access is the ideal solution. Card-based access control systems Managers, trained staff, ancillary staff, residents and visitors can all be assigned a pass card that will allow them access around the building appropriate to their status. Nortech has supplied products and solutions to the security industry for over 25 years as an independent British company. The company uses extensive experience and expertise to create new security products to fit their clients’ needs and designs everything with the customer in mind.

Nortech ending 2019 on a high with busy year at exhibitions and ISO 9001 standard compliance
Nortech ending 2019 on a high with busy year at exhibitions and ISO 9001 standard compliance

People and vehicle access control specialist, Nortech is heading into the end of the year on a high with compliance with the latest ISO 9001 certification standard, a busy year at exhibitions and getting involved with a local teen pioneer being among the company main 2019 highlights. Nortech’s Managing Director Steve Blackler commented, “We are very pleased with how the company has progressed this year. We continue to grow and meet new standards and were also delighted to meet with Freddie Howells, a young inventor from nearby Usk over the summer to support him in his work to create a facial recognition door lock for an elderly relative with dementia.”   Door Pi Plus facial recognition home security system Freddie was approached by Nortech to help develop his award-nominated home monitoring system After appearing in the news earlier in the year, Freddie was approached by Nortech to help him further develop his award-nominated home monitoring system. Freddie was invited to Nortech to discuss his product with the team and also received a tour of the site as well as some training to help him to expand his access control knowledge. When Freddie heard his 88-year-old great aunt Pat who has dementia was struggling with potentially letting strangers into her home, he wanted to do something, so went on to invent something that would help her and others when home alone. Freddie developed a facial recognition, door entry and home monitoring system, the Door Pi Plus, where a motion sensor attached to the individual’s front door detects motion and it triggers the camera to take a picture of the visitor. ID tagging and two factor authentication The image is checked against a database of ‘known’ faces and if the person is recognised they are able to scan their ID tag for two factor authentication. If the face and ID match, the door is opened. If the face and ID are not recognised the visitor is prompted to call a number to gain access. Following his visit to Nortech, Freddie has been offered ongoing support by the team to assist him in finalising his invention so it continues to help his great aunt and others in the future. Home monitoring system After taking on a number of apprentices in the last year, September has seen the intake progress into college programmes whilst still gaining experience alongside the Nortech technical team. The company’s commitment to growth and the community has played a big part in its success and enabled it to expand in other areas. To further help its installers, Nortech is developing a tech support area for its current website To further help its installers, Nortech is developing a tech support area for its current website to ensure engineers can access the material they need easily when installing Nortech products. Work on the website has led to more traffic and takes on board the suggestions made by those who frequently work with Nortech, who are then likely to also look at other areas of the website. Nortech technology support Among the news items regularly posted on its website and social media are references to Nortech’s presence at several shows this year and its pride in making the shortlist for a number of industry awards. Alongside the roadshows the company frequently attends, Nortech has also attended Parkex, Elevate and the LEGIC conference over the last few months and is constantly further developing its existing product range to satisfy industry demands.   Nortech has supplied products and solutions to the security industry for over 25 years as an independent British company. The company uses extensive experience and expertise to create new security products to fit their clients’ needs and designs everything with the customer in mind. 

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