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Security systems installed in a typical facility consists of cameras, access control, intrusion sensors and fire alarms. Typically, these devices are places behind a firewall on a dedicated network. Building control systems are installed on a secondary network can contains lighting, HVAC, fire protection, elevators/lifts, chillers and air/moisture sensors. These systems serve their purpose and will continue to be adapted and make facility systems design more complicated. This complexity can be controlled using common development tools and platforms. Not only will this approach make the process of creating smarter, safer, more energy efficient systems but will also reduce the number accidental deaths and injuries that occur every year.

 

The redundant network design approach is not a very efficient nor cost effective way of operating a facility. This is starting to change as savvy building managers are making the decision to integrate security and building control systems and map them onto a single network. This can entail integrating multiple disparate systems, sensors, NVR devices and video management software. The concept of integrating a camera or access control system to an HVAC system, or a visitor/facility management system or edge recording device to a lighting or fire protection system may seem unusual to some. Yet, this is where many security systems integrators and manufactures are missing out on untapped applications and services opportunities. Modern integrated security and building systems can give facility managers and security directors the tools to improve, simplify operations and reduce the efforts of the operations staff and points of control teams.

 

In the past, the security industry has relied on it’s own approach to integrated systems know as physical security information management (PSIM). PSIM attempts to provide an open architecture to integrate multiple security system products into a single operating platform. This approach has been very hit-or-miss and has left a bad taste in the mouths of systems integrators and end-users. On the flip side of the coin, facility managers have their own integration platform known as a building automation system (BAS). As it relates to physical security, BAS systems are intended to integrate with PSIMs and control individual security systems. However, BAS systems come in many different flavors; many of them are not viewed in a glowing light by building operation end users. Past integrations are not all filled with doom-and-gloom. There are some successful integrations attempted by the collaborative efforts of building controls and physical security organizations. The question is why is this design practice not more common where the benefits and economics make sense?

 

In order to facilitate the adoption and implementation of an integrated system the use of open standard protocols is an absolute must. The building automation industry created BACnet and LONworks which allow for real-time remote connectivity between sensors, actuators, controller devices and software. In the case of LONworks, hardware manufactures have the ability to include a chipset with built-in building control system support. It took some time, but finally the security industry created the protocols ONVIF and PSIA. These open architectures allows the end-user to choose vendors selecting either security or BAS equipment based on features and price. The end-user can also decide to install partial system upgrades without the risk of making costly investments in obsolete legacy systems. With that said, The security industry is curious about implementing the building controls protocols but needs an easier way to integrate them into their hardware and software products in an ad-hoc applications based manner.

 

There are security directors that are not completely sold on the idea of integrating with building control systems. On the other hand, facility managers may question the benefits of sharing a network with security systems especially when functions do not overlap with life-safety systems. However, system integration between building controls, physical and now cybersecurity offers more than just staffing convenience and operational efficiency. Here are a few results from a truly integrated security system.

Faster Response to Incidents – With the use of a robust mobile software solution and integration approaches such camera-to-access control-to-lighting or HVAC staff members can be freed from a console which makes them readily available to respond to incidents or equipment failure.

Provide more accurate compliance reports – Data provided by building controls and security edge devices can be paired with artificial intelligence technologies such as neural networks and genetic algorithms. This helps facilities to comply with government regulations with regards to security.

Reduce accidents and save money – Integrated systems provide better control of building and security systems. For example, if some accidentally stumbles into a restricted area or manages to make it to overly heated or chilled area the access control system, Variable air volume (VAV), or other HVAC system components can send alerts and create historical trend reports. Also a single network architecture can make managing system components easier.

 

Integrated building control and security systems are gaining some traction. However, it is still not a mainstream approach among many manufactures and systems integrators. One proposed solution is to utilize a common platform that is utilizes the industry protocol standards as application and system component building blocks.

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Sheldon Gabriel is the founder and CTO of Ai-tronics Systems. Ai-tronics specializes in physical security and building control systems mobile and embedded systems development tools that gives developers the ability to build cohesive, secure AI-based IoT and IIoT systems and solutions.

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