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 Access control - the key to integrated security systems for businesses
Integrated access control solutions have become easier to apply

Leading integrated security solutions provider Honeywell explains the importance and benefits of implementing an integrated access control solution for businesses.

An access control solution can be as simple as the use of electronic or magnetic swipe cards instead of keys to unlock a front door. This limited functionality still retains a considerable level of value. In most cases, businesses can limit which cards are able to access the door during specific times, thus allowing all employees to have "keys to the shop" without risking unwanted access to the premises out of hours. In addition, security managers benefit from the ability to check or report on who attempted to enter the premises and at what time.

At the other end of the spectrum is a fully integrated access system, controlling multiple buildings, which seamlessly incorporates the functionality of a CCTV surveillance system, Electronic Visitor Management, Intrusion Detection, Lighting, Fire Alarm, Elevator Control and other systems as may be appropriate. The latest systems are even linking access control with corporate IT systems - so called physical/logical convergence - to reduce the risks of unauthorized access to business critical IT platforms.

Effective access control solutions

The benefits of a well-planned, properly specified and cost-efficient access control solution for any building or site are numerous, including:

  • Protection of the facility
  • Limit access to business critical or restricted areas e.g. server rooms
  • Effective monitoring and control of remote locations
  • Security for staff and visitors
  • Controlling and reporting on any unusual events
  • Tracking and tracing of people for evacuation purposes
  • Reporting for regulatory or compliance purposes

Besides preventing unwanted visitors and minimising risk to stock and equipment, effective access control also safeguards against costly and potentially disastrous business interruption.

Interoperable holistic security solution

In this world of technology, security systems are evolving quickly, offering more features and greater levels of integration. Indeed, security systems work best when functioning as a holistic solution to meet site-specific risks, where their full potential can be realised. That means integrating equipment such as, CCTV cameras and recorders, access control, video analytics monitored perimeter fencing, and intruder alarms.

In the past, true security systems integration used to be the exclusive preserve of a small number of end-user companies willing to pay large amounts of money for high level functionality. Typically, it was delivered by specialist systems integrators with

True integration between security products has become easier to acheive 
Developments in the security industry have led to easier interoperability between products

strong engineering teams, who had the breadth and depth of technical expertise required to bring together a range of disparate products from independent CCTV, access control and intruder alarm / detector manufacturers to create a fully integrated security system.

Problems encountered in matching different security system control protocols led to difficulties in enabling these systems to ‘talk' to each other. Various solutions attempted to resolve this ‘language barrier' as system suppliers sought the key to unlocking the benefits of interoperability.

Growth of "plug and play" integration of security systems

However, over the last few years, the market situation has begun to change, driven by the increasing consolidation of the industry. This has resulted in enhancements in manufacturer offerings to enable them to operate on common systems platforms. What was once a technical nightmare of different protocols and technological incompatibility is increasingly becoming a "plug and play" solution, where the in-built technology manages all aspects of integration. 

Leading security organisations are now placing the emphasis on access control systems as the core integration platform.  Instead of access control, intruder and CCTV systems working in near isolation from each other, they can now be 

Effective access control also safeguards against costly and potentially disastrous business interruption

networked and centrally or remotely monitored and controlled via the access control solution. Easy integration starts at CCTV camera systems linked into the graphical user interface of the access control software. This way, daily operations can be managed without having to switch between separate software systems. Practical examples of this include CCTV cameras that can be programmed to position themselves and record automatically to the local DVR if triggered by a specific event activation, such as a fire door being opened.  The operator would immediately see live video from the appropriate camera pop-up on the screen on alarm events such as these, in addition to easy retrieval of historic event images with a simple click of the mouse.

At larger sites, where security staff and building managers operate from a control room, this level of integration also offers a greater level of supervisory capability to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of daily operations. Security officers can be better deployed, monitored and supported as they perform both routine site checks and specific incident response duties during out-of-hours periods such as overnight, weekends and bank holidays.  Similarly, detector activations can lead to alarms being raised at a monitoring station located anywhere around the world.

Leading security organisations are now placing the emphasis on access control systems as the core integration platform

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True integration of access, video and intruder systems offers greater benefits 

"A typical example of this type of application is in a major financial institution which has an integrated access and CCTV system installed in their Head Office and their unmanned Disaster Recovery Centre (DRC) site," advises Jeremy Kimber, Channel Marketing Leader EMEA, Honeywell Systems Group. "Whenever one of the staff uses his/her access card at the DRC, it automatically triggers video pop-ups on the system at Head Office allowing the central security team to visually verify and remotely manage all visitors to the DRC. In the worst case scenario of a critical event, the security team can move to the DRC and remotely manage access to the evacuated Head Office. This type of integrated remote management capability clearly enhances security whilst improving the efficiency of increasingly expensive security staff. It also helps the institution meet some of its compliance requirements under the Financial Services Authority standards." Smarter access control systems

Leveraging an access control solution provides the ability to easily and rapidly implement new technology solutions such as smart cards, biometrics, logical access and intelligent video into existing architectures, as needs change.   This, in turn, can provide additional benefits:

  • Smarter facilities, security, and workforce management
  • Enhanced staff services via single card - cashless vending, secure printing, IT system access
  • Streamlined employee attendance tracking process
  • Improved visitor management 
  • Site occupancy reporting capabilities

Scalable system architecture designed to accommodate new technology

 "Security improvements are increasingly adding value to businesses whether financially or in meeting compliance," says Kimber

Indeed, true integration can offer far more functionality than just the security of an organisations' staff and premises; it can extend to envelop all aspects of a business including cashless vending, site health and safety compliance, control of access to restricted areas such as clean rooms, and verifying authenticity for payroll purposes. "Biometric verification integrated with Honeywell access control solutions has generated significant benefits for prime contractors at a major construction site," says Kimber. "By removing the problem of ghost workers - where an individual may clock in for several colleagues, this solution has enhanced site Health and Safety compliance and saved the end-user vast amounts of money. Security improvements are increasingly adding extra value to businesses whether financially or in meeting compliance requirements."

True security system integration - the future

Whilst the level of sophistication will vary in accordance with budget and requirements, given the modularity of today's security offerings, it is now much easier to steadily build up an integrated solution in line with  requirements and budget availability. Organisations can implement different parts of the core access, video and intruder systems over time, knowing that they are interoperable, and can eventually be combined into a holistic security system. So an integrated solution is now within any company's reach and is undoubtedly the new standard for any company serious about security.

 

Jeremy Kimber, Uk Marketing Leader - Video and Access Control, Honeywell Security

 

Jeremy Kimber
Channel Marketing Leader EMEA
Honeywell Systems Group

 

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