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 It is not uncommon for healthcare providers to depend upon outdated, analogue-based video systems with limited capabilities while providing surveillance of a large facility, says Jeff Whitney, Arecont Vision’s Vice President of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

Wire-free, mobile first and data rich? The future of access control is within almost anyone’s reach
Wire-free, mobile first and data rich? The future of access control is within almost anyone’s reach

The 2020s will be a wireless decade in access control, says Russell Wagstaff from ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions EMEA. He examines the trends data, and looks beyond mobile keys to brand new security roles for the smartphone. The benefits of wire-free electronic access control are well rehearsed. They are also more relevant than ever. A wireless solution gives facility managers deeper, more flexible control over who should have access, where and when, because installing, operating and integrating them is easier and less expensive than wiring more doors. Battery powered locks Many procurement teams are now aware of these cost advantages, but perhaps not their scale. Research for an ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions (AAOS) benchmarking exercise found installation stage to be the largest contributor to cost reduction. Comparing a typical installation of battery-powered Aperio locks versus wired locks at the same scale, the research projected an 80% saving in installers’ labour costs for customers who go cable-free. Battery powered locks all consume much less energy than traditional wired locks Operating costs are also lower for wireless: Battery powered locks all consume much less energy than traditional wired locks, which normally work via magnets connected permanently to electricity. Wireless locks only ‘wake up’ when presented with a credential for which they must make an access decision. AAOS estimated a 70% saving in energy use over a comparable lock’s lifetime. Find out more about wireless access control at ASSA ABLOY's upcoming 29th June webinar Deploying wireless locks In short, every time a business chooses a wireless lock rather than a wired door, they benefit from both installation and operating cost savings. A recent report from IFSEC Global, AAOS and Omdia reveals the extent to which the advantages of wireless are cutting through. Responses to a large survey of security professionals — end-users, installers, integrators and consultants serving large corporations and small- to medium-sized organisations in education, healthcare, industrial, commercial, infrastructure, retail, banking and other sectors — suggest almost four locations in ten (38%) have now deployed wireless locks as a part or the whole of their access solution. The corresponding data point from AAOS’s 2014 Report was 23%. Electronic access control Electronic access control is less dependent than ever on cabling Without doubt, electronic access control is less dependent than ever on cabling: Even after a year when many investments have been deferred or curtailed, the data reveals fast-growing adoption of wireless locks, technologies and systems. Is mobile access control — based on digital credentials or ‘virtual keys’ stored on a smartphone — an ideal security technology for this wire-free future? In fact, the same report finds mobile access is growing fast right now. Among those surveyed, 26% of end-users already offer mobile compatibility; 39% plan to roll out mobile access within two years. Before the mid-2020s, around two-thirds of access systems will employ the smartphone in some way. The smartphone is also convenient for gathering system insights Driving rapid adoption What is driving such rapid adoption? The convenience benefits for everyday users are obvious — witness the mobile boom in banking and payments, travel or event ticketing, transport, food delivery and countless more areas of modern life. Access control is a natural fit. If you have your phone, you are already carrying your keys: What could be easier? IBM forecasts that 1.87 billion people globally will be mobile workers by 2022 Less often discussed are the ways mobile management makes life easier for facility and security managers, too. Among those polled for the new Wireless Access Control Report, almost half (47%) agreed that ‘Mobile was more flexible than physical credentials, and 36% believe that mobile credentials make it easier to upgrade employee access rights at any time.’ IBM forecasts that 1.87 billion people globally will be mobile workers by 2022. Workers in every impacted sector require solutions which can get the job done from anywhere: Access management via smartphone offers this. Site management device The smartphone is also convenient for gathering system insights. For example, one new reporting and analytics tool for CLIQ key-based access control systems uses an app to collect, visualise and evaluate access data. Security system data could contribute to business success. The app’s clear, visual layout helps managers to instantly spot relevant trends, anomalies or patterns. It’s simple to export, to share insights across the business. Reinvented for learning — not just as a ‘key’ or site management device — the phone will help businesses make smarter, data-informed decisions. The smartphone will also play a major role in security — and everything else — for an exciting new generation of smart buildings. These buildings will derive their intelligence from interoperability. Over 90% of the report’s survey respondents highlighted the importance of integration across building functions including access control, CCTV, alarm and visitor management systems. Genuinely seamless integration They offer greater peace of mind than proprietary solutions which ‘lock you in’ for the long term Yet in practice, stumbling blocks remain on the road to deeper, genuinely seamless integration. More than a quarter of those polled felt held back by a lack of solutions developed to open standards. ‘Open standards are key for the momentum behind the shift towards system integration,’ notes the Report. As well as being more flexible, open solutions are better futureproofed. Shared standards ensure investments can be made today with confidence that hardware and firmware may be built on seamlessly in the future. They offer greater peace of mind than proprietary solutions which ‘lock you in’ for the long term. Open solutions and mobile management are critical to achieving the goals which end-users in every vertical are chasing: scalability, flexibility, sustainability, cost-efficiency and convenience.

What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?
What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Perimeter security is the first line of defence against intruders entering a business or premises. Traditionally associated with low-tech options such as fencing, the field of perimeter security has expanded in recent years and now encompasses a range of high-tech options. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world
Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world

With the continued rolling back of COVID restrictions in the UK, there is a palpable sense of relief. A mixture of mass vaccinations, widespread testing, and track and tracing of the infection is helping to enable a healthy bounce back for businesses – with secure access control taking an important role in facilitating this. However, rather than just being a reaction to the wake of the pandemic, there is every sign that the economy, and consequently the security sector as well, are both rebuilding and reshaping for the long-term new normal. Prioritising Safety Already deemed an essential service even during the first wave of the pandemic, the security industry has of course taken a vital role in protecting people and property throughout the crisis. Now that venues in the UK are starting to reopen again, our services are key to occupancy management and ensuring that disease transmission is limited as far as possible. Access control is also key in reassuring people that their safety is a priority. Making the upgrade It’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed with a few “tweaks”  Businesses and organisations have a duty of care to their employees and the safety of visitors – so controlling access, employing lateral flow testing, and deploying suitable Track & Trace mechanisms are all key components. I think those outside our industry are surprised to learn that most of the technology being deployed and used hasn’t just magically developed since COVID appeared – it’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed albeit with a few development “tweaks” or adjustments for the situation at hand. This includes using or installing facial recognition readers rather than using fingerprint or contact tokens, it is swapping to automatic request to exit sensors instead of buttons; it is using powered secure doors rather than having people all grab the same handle. Using mobile credentials is also a key technology choice – why not use the highly secure, easy to manage, cost-effective, and of course contact-free benefits of this approach? Touchless solutions We have seen a clear shift in organisations looking to protect their staff and visitors. For instance, we have a big utility customer in Southeast Asia that has just replaced close to 200 sites using fingerprint readers with an additional facial recognition capability. We have also seen a big rise in demand for touchless request to exit sensors and Bluetooth Low Energy Readers for use with smartphone authentication. Working together Integration of security systems is of course nothing new, but in the post-pandemic or endemic age, it has perhaps never been more important. Installations need to be simple, straightforward, and rapid to help maintain safe distancing but also to ensure systems can be deployed as soon as they are needed. The world is changing and developing rapidly and there is simply no place for systems that don’t work with others or cause the end-user considerable cost and inconvenience to upgrade. This flexible delivery of security solutions perfectly matches the evolving and increasing demands of the market. It’s clear that end-users want systems that work well and can easily integrate with their existing systems – not only security but all the other business components which work in unison with each other over a shared network. Great opportunities ahead The recent work-from-home trend is also clearly changing the way organisations and businesses interact with the built environment. Lots of companies are downsizing, offices are being split up, there is lots of revitalisation and reuse of existing office space – all of which creates considerable opportunities for security providers. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value There are also, in the UK at least, clear signs that the construction industry is rapidly growing again -with a forecast of 8% rebound and growth this year. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value – all positive signs for UK-based security providers. Undoubtedly the highly successful UK vaccination rollout has helped considerably, but there are signs that the Eurozone looks set to improve considerably over the next few months as well. Using integrated access control Undoubtedly the pandemic has made security markets around the world more aware of the benefits of integrated access control in managing the needs of the new normal COVID endemic environment. For example, as a business, we have always had keen interest from the UK healthcare sector, but over the last 12 months, we have seen a big growth in previously modest international markets including Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand – all of which are very keen to adopt improved access control solutions. Learning the lessons Nobody would deny the last year or so has been unprecedentedly tough on everyone, as a society we have had to make huge changes and sacrifices. Governments, organisations, and businesses all need to be better prepared in the future, to understand the things that went wrong and those that were successful. However, there is a world beyond the immediate pandemic and its effects. Flexible working practices and the changes these will have to the way we live and work will undoubtedly present great opportunities for the security sector in helping the world evolve. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for many organisations with regards to their duty of care to employees – particularly when it comes to mental health and providing a sensible work/life balance. Where we work and the safety of these facilities has received far more scrutiny than before. Flexible security systems Integrated security solutions have a vital role to play in not only protecting the safety of people during the post-lockdown return to work but also in the evolution of the built environment and move towards smart cities - which inevitably will now need to consider greater flexibility in securing home working spaces rather than just traditional places of work. Importantly, powerful access control and integrated security systems need to be flexible to the uncertainties ahead. The COVID pandemic has shown that nothing can be considered certain, except the need for greater flexibility and resilience in the way we operate our professional and personal interactions.