Part 2 of our Security in Healthcare series

IP-based physical access control systems are easier to operate, expand and integrate with other solutions

The future is digital, and analogue systems are a thing of the past – or are they?

The fact is, in the healthcare vertical at least, we may still have a way to go before the full potential of IP-based systems is realised. Obstacles include a lack of funding and the challenge of sharing IP bandwidth with other healthcare technologies.

Bandwidth competition

While many hospitals have invested significantly in IP systems, one challenge is bandwidth: Security and video systems often have to compete for bandwidth with other now-IT-driven systems in healthcare facilities, such medical records systems, x-ray systems and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems. Security departments may not be the highest priority when allotting bandwidth, given they are competing with medical devices and systems that generate revenue.

As a video company that serves the healthcare vertical, Pelco by Schneider Electric sees progress on the transition from analogue to IP video surveillance devices, but there are still a large number of healthcare facilities that do not have the necessary funds to convert completely to an IP-heavy infrastructure. A big advantage of these facilities making the transition to IP is that users can access real-time video at any time from any computer, anywhere, says Kyle Cusson, Business Development Manager, Healthcare, Pelco.

“This is immensely important for information security requirements and disaster recovery,” he says. With analogue, the information gathered is physically tethered to the camera and DVR. However, there are hybrid solutions – such as encoders that convert analogue to IP – that exist and allow facilities to capitalise on existing investments for the time being.

IP to gain ground soon

“Over the next five years, we will definitely see a massive shift to IP solutions because they are becoming more cost-effective to deploy and are delivering superior video quality and flexibility to users,” says Cusson. 

The transition isn’t always all-or-nothing. It is not uncommon for healthcare providers to depend upon outdated, analogue-based video systems with limited capabilities while providing surveillance of a large facility, says Jeff Whitney, Arecont Vision’s Vice President of Marketing. “The transition happens after a major incident or awareness of new risks and challenges that the existing systems cannot address,” he adds. “That’s when surveillance technology is often moved from inadequate analogue systems to IP megapixel surveillance cameras.”

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have found the idea of an IP transition both cost-prohibitive and difficult to deploy
A big advantage of healthcare facilities making the transition to IP is easy access of
real-time video any time from any computer

Arecont Vision SurroundVideo

Arecont Vision, a provider of video to the healthcare market, delivers megapixel surveillance cameras that reduce the cost of surveillance while increasing video coverage, improving aesthetics, and delivering high-definition (HD) video.

Customers are able to continue to get value from their existing analogue systems in some cases, while supplementing them with modern digital network-based video surveillance systems until existing systems reach their end of life, Whitney says. The network-based system can then replace the legacy analogue system fully. Whitney notes that Arecont Vision’s SurroundVideo multi-sensor megapixel cameras replace multiple PTZs and fixed cameras while providing improved video coverage at a lower cost, and the system is less intrusive than the analogue systems they replace. “In new projects, most customers already have chosen to deploy IP network surveillance camera technology and gain all of the benefits and improved security immediately,” says Whitney.

Cost-to-benefit analysis

 “We have seen the transition from analogue to IP become most complete in regards to display, with digital monitors almost completely replacing analogue monitors,” says Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President, Americas, Oncam, which provides a broad range of 360-degree fisheye cameras and integration software to the healthcare vertical. “That’s where it really ends.”

He says many hospitals and healthcare facilities have found the idea of an IP transition both cost-prohibitive and difficult to deploy. There has been some investment in relatively inexpensive decoders, which convert analogue to IP.

“Cost is definitely a factor in the resistance we’re seeing in these facilities, but as the technology is developed further, that will help drive the cost down,” says Edulbehram.

New adoptions take time, and there will be a long period when different technologies co-exist, says Robert Laughlin, President, Galaxy Control Systems, which provides access control systems ranging from single-door systems up to multi-site enterprise-level integrated systems. For this reason, it will continue to be essential that new software and systems are backwards-compatible with the existing equipment in place within organisations. Users need to be able to upgrade in a way that fits with both their security needs and their budgetary limitations. Access control systems such as Galaxy’s will continue to be integrated with a range of systems, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every access need, Laughlin says.

The transition happens after a major incident or awareness of new risks and challenges that the existing systems cannot address
New adoptions take time, and there will be a long period when different
technologies co-exist in the healthcare market

Networked physical access control system

Many healthcare institutions also want a path to IP-based physical access control system (PACS) solutions that are easier to operate, and that simplify expansion, customisation and integration with other solutions that can share the same network, says Sheila Loy, Director Healthcare Strategies, North America, HID Global, provider of comprehensive healthcare security solutions to create a safe, compliant environment for patients and employees.

Networked access control simplifies infrastructure enhancements and modifications because hardware platforms aren’t tied to proprietary software, she notes. It’s also easier to add wireless locksets that connect with the online access control system, thus reducing wiring costs and eliminating the problems of easy-to-lose keys while providing near-online and near-real-time control of the opening. IP-based solutions also provide a single, integrated system for combining security, access control, video surveillance and incident response, perimeter detection and alarm monitoring systems. Hospitals can invest in a single, unified IP network, and logically control multiple technologies that previously co-existed only on a physical level. Plus, they can leverage their existing credential investment to seamlessly add logical access control for network log-on, and achieve a full interoperable, multi-layered security solution across company networks, systems and facilities.

Analogue or IP debate – a thing of the past?

"We will not only continue to see
more security devices on the
network, but we will also start to
see more cutting-edge medical
technology and equipment that
is network-capable"

Other manufacturers see analogue in the healthcare vertical as largely a thing of the past. Camera technology has advanced so far and so fast that the analogue or IP debate is really a thing of the past, says Dave Ella, AMAG Technology’s Vice President of Product Marketing. “The question now is how quickly budgets will allow for the transition to newer technology,” Ella says. Hospitals benefit from higher resolutions (available with IP cameras), which can identify individuals and license plate numbers. Almost all AMAG healthcare customers are integrating their video to their access control system, which vastly speeds up response to security incidents as they unfold.

Brandon Reich, Senior Director of Surveillance Solutions, Pivot3, agrees. Today, virtually all new installations are IP, he says. There are a number of organisations that still deploy analogue into large installed bases, though most have converted to IP by this point. In some cases, the rise of HD analogue video has extended the usable life of installed analogue systems, but by 2020, Reich expects the market to be vast majority IP. Pivot3 hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solutions for video surveillance provide a high level of protection against liabilities related to lost video.

The future belongs to network-capable medical technology

In the security industry, we have seen the transition from analogue to IP systems take place over the course of several years, and it is debatable whether or not that transition is complete,” says Steve Birkmeier, VP of Sales and Business Development, Arteco. “Similarly, within the next few years, we will not only continue to see more security devices on the network, but we will also start to see more cutting-edge medical technology and equipment that is network-capable.”

Securing the security devices

Birkmeier says this is a burgeoning topic of discussion within the larger conversation about where the internet of Things (IoT) is leading us. However, it also leads to some interesting questions, such as: How will we secure these “wired” devices through the network? Will new compliance standards or regulations have to be put in place? What kind of failover strategy or reliability factors can these life-saving devices guarantee for vulnerable patients if the network goes down?

“Taking all these questions into consideration, it is imperative that we continue to invest in IT-centric access control solutions and open up integration opportunities with these technologies to ensure the security of patients, corporate and patient data, hospital staff and equipment,” says Birkmeier. 

Read Part 3 of our Security in Healthcare series here

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, &

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

How has Brexit affected the security industry?
How has Brexit affected the security industry?

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a world of uncertainty unfolded for those doing business in the UK and the EU. The referendum was passed in July 2016. Including subsequent delays, the separation was completed after four years in January 2020, with a transition period ending December 2020. Even with the deadlines past, there are still pockets of uncertainty stemming from the separation. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How has Brexit affected the security industry?

Hybrid working and the threat of desk data
Hybrid working and the threat of desk data

The transition to remote working has been a revelation for many traditional office staff, yet concerns over data security risks are rising. Mark Harper of HSM explains why businesses and their remote workers must remain vigilant when it comes to physical document security in homes. Pre-pandemic, home offices were often that neglected room in people’s homes. But now things are different. After the initial lockdown in 2020, 46.6% of UK workers did some work at home with 86% of those doing so because of the pandemic. Semi-permanent workspaces Since then, many have found that over time, those semi-permanent workspaces have become slightly more permanent – with official hybrid working coming into effect for an assortment of businesses and their teams. The adoption of hybrid working can in fact be seen as one of the few positives to come from the pandemic, with less travel, more freedom and higher productivity top of the benefits list for businesses and their employees. The handling of sensitive documents, is a growing concern for office managers But those welcomed benefits don’t tell the whole story. The transition to remote working has undoubtedly impacted workplace security, with various touch points at risk. The handling of sensitive documents for example, is a growing concern for office managers. In simpler times, sensitive data was more or less contained in an office space, but with millions of home setups to now think about, how can businesses and their office managers control the issue of desk data? Physical document security As of January 2021, it’s said that one in three UK workers are based exclusively at home. That’s millions of individuals from a variety of sectors, all of which must continue in their efforts to remain data secure. With that, reports of cyber security fears are consistently making the news but that shouldn’t be the sole focus. There is also the underlying, but growing, issue of physical document security. The move to remote working hasn’t removed these physical forms of data – think hard drives, USBs and paper based documentation. A recent surge in demand for home printers for example, only exemplifies the use of physical documents and the potential security issues home offices are facing. Adding to that, research conducted in 2020 found that two out of three employees who printed documents at home admitted to binning those documents both in and outside of their house without shredding them. Data security concern Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk Those findings present a huge data security concern, one that must be fixed immediately. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has since released guidance for those working from their bedrooms and dining tables. Designed to help overcome these challenges, the ‘security checklists’ and ‘top tips’ should be the first port of call for many. Yet throughout, the ICO make reference to ‘following your organisation’s policies and guidance’ – highlighting that the onus isn’t solely on the individuals working from their makeshift offices. Office managers have a monumental task on their hands to ensure teams are well equipped within their home setups. Without the right equipment, policies and guidance, businesses are sure to be at risk. But it would be wrong to insinuate that unsecure desk data has only now become an issue for organisations. Modern office spaces Keeping clear desks has long been a battle for many office managers. In fact, clear desk policies are practised in most modern office spaces, with it recognised as a key preventative to personal information being wrongly accessed and so falling foul of GDPR legislation. Throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic However, the unsupervised aspect of home working has led to a potentially more lax approach to these policies, or in some cases, they can’t be followed at all. For those taking a more laid back approach, organisation leaders must remind staff of their data security responsibilities and why clear desk policies have previously proven effective. Ultimately, throwing sensitive documents in the bin was never an option pre-pandemic and this must be carried through to home workspaces now. Securely destroy documents There are also concerns over the equipment people have access to at home. For example, without a reliable home shredding solution, data security suddenly becomes a tougher task. To add to that, several recommendations state that employees working from home should avoid throwing documents away by instead transporting them to the office for shredding once lockdown rules ease. While this is an option, it does pose further issues, with document security at risk of accidental loss or even theft throughout the transportation period, not to mention the time spent in storage. The best and most effective way to securely destroy documents is at the source, especially in environments where higher levels of personal data is regularly handled. Correct shredding equipment The recent findings on home office behaviour represent a true security risk Only when home workers implement their own clear desk policies alongside the correct shredding equipment (at the correct security level), can both home office spaces and regular offices become data secure. Realistically, these solutions should, like the common home printer, become a staple in home office spaces moving forward. The likelihood is that many UK workers will remain in their home offices for the foreseeable future, only to emerge as hybrid workers post-pandemic. And while the current working environment is more ideal for some than others, the recent findings on home office behaviour represent a true security risk to organisations. With this in mind, it’s now more key than ever for business leaders, their office managers and homeworkers to all step up and get a handle on home data security policies (as well as maintaining their standards back at the office) – starting with the implementation of clear desk policies. After all, a clear desk equals a clear mind.

Video intercoms for a smarter, safer workspace
Video intercoms for a smarter, safer workspace

Though many office workers across the globe have found themselves working remotely for the past year, we are seeing a bit of a silver lining, as vaccine rollouts hint at a return to some pre-pandemic sense of normalcy. However, while some of us might opt for a fully-remote work life, others are anticipating a hybrid solution. Even before the pandemic, offices were taking a new, more open layout approach—moving past the days of cubicles and small office configurations. Going forward, offices and other workspaces will be tasked with supporting a hybrid work solution, as well as increasing hygiene measures. Video intercom solution This is where an IP video intercom solution can assist. Below are four ways they can help usher in a smarter, safer work environment: Video intercoms assist in creating a more hygienic work environment - The outbreak of COVID-19 has raised awareness of germs and just how easily a virus can be transmitted by face-to-face contact. Germ barriers are popping up in many aspects of our daily lives, where we were not likely to see them before Unfortunately, the door is also the easiest of these germ barriers to breach As such, we’re becoming accustomed to seeing plexiglass barriers at restaurants, grocery stores, and even coffee shops. However, many don’t realise that one of the best germ barriers is a simple door. Unfortunately, the door is also the easiest of these germ barriers to breach. All it takes is a knock or a doorbell ring to make us open our germ barrier and be face-to-face with whomever is on the other side. Increasing hygiene safety A simple step to increase hygiene safety and visitor security in commercial buildings and workspaces is an IP video intercom. Installing a video intercom will allow staff to see and speak with visitors without breaching that all-important germ barrier. A video intercom system provides a first line of defence, enabling the user to visually confirm the identity of the person on the other side of the door first before granting access. It can also be used to make sure proper procedures are being followed before a person is allowed to enter, such as using hand sanitiser, wearing a mask, and following social distancing guidelines. Basic security needs A major topic of conversation the past year has been how to manage occupancy in all facilities Video intercoms for occupancy management and basic security - A major topic of conversation the past year has been how to manage occupancy in all facilities—ranging from grocery stores and retail shops to restaurants and commercial buildings. Workspaces and offices are no exception. A video intercom provides a quick and convenient method of seeing who, or what, is on the unsecure side of the door before opening. For basic security needs, if a business has a door opening into an alley, a video intercom would be used to ensure no one is waiting outside to force their way in when the door is opened. Personal protection equipment Such solutions can also be used to ensure a person is carrying proper credentials, or wearing proper personal protection equipment (PPE), before entering a sensitive area. For example, if a lab has a room which can only be accessed by two persons at a time wearing specific protective gear, a video intercom could ensure each person is properly equipped, before allowing access that particular room. Additionally, for office or workspaces that have shared common areas, such as a cafeteria, gym or even conference rooms, managing access to these spaces will remain a priority, especially with post-pandemic restrictions in place. Video intercoms are a comprehensive safety and security tool for any workspace Deliveries of packages, work-related materials, or even food are common in any office or workspace. Video intercoms can assist in facilitating safe deliveries by visually and audibly confirming the identity of the individual. The visitor could be your next big client, your lunch delivery, a fellow employee with a faulty access card, or your mail. Video intercoms are a comprehensive safety and security tool for any workspace. Visitor management systems Video intercoms provide a cost-effective solution in small to mid-sized office facilities - One significant advantage of video intercom systems is the variety of applications available. Systems range from simple one-to-one video intercoms, to buzz-in systems, to full-fledged visitor management systems in mixed-use buildings. While they might lack the resources and manpower many enterprises have, small-to medium-sized offices can also take steps to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. Like any business, controlling who comes into the building is a primary way of maintaining safety. Video intercoms work in conjunction with access control systems to provide an identifying view of visitors or employees with lost or missing credentials. They allow staff to both see and hear those on the unsecured side of the door to determine intent before granting access. Most quality video intercoms will provide a clear enough image to allow an identification card to be read by holding it close to the lens, adding another opportunity to verify identity. Touchless intercom activation One major trend is the option of providing a touchless door activation Video intercoms provide a touchless option - Even prior to COVID-19, one major trend is the option of providing a touchless door activation or touchless intercom activation of a video intercom for those without proper credentials. Though touchless isn’t a new solution to the access control market, the pandemic introduced a renewed focus on these types of solutions to provide hygienic access to visitors. For offices and other workspaces looking to make investments into post-pandemic solutions to assist in reopening, touchless can support these efforts. When it comes to smart, secure workspaces, many people think instantly of cameras or monitors, access control, and alarm systems. Proper access credentials However, video intercoms are often the missing piece of a building’s security puzzle. A video intercom provides an identifying view that is not always available from a camera covering a large area. They allow those without proper access credentials a method of requesting entry, and just like cameras, they can be activated by alarms to allow staff to clearly see and communicate. If a workspace or office is important enough to be secure, it’s important enough to be sure of who is there before the door is opened. In 2021, it’s not enough to ensure the physical security of your staff and visitors, but also to ensure they are accessing a hygienic environment. Video intercoms provide that security and peace of mind.