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Securing premises with networked technology

by Andy Clutton

Man pressing digital buttonIt is estimated that Internet Protocol (IP) CCTV systems, which use high performance data networks to transmit quality secure images to anywhere in the world, now outsell analogue ones. Tony Easingwood, account manager at Advantex Network Solutions, explains more and highlights the skills these new technologies demand.

The complete network electronic technology IP security solution combines video management, access control, video analytics, intrusion alerts and other systems and devices onto a single networked platform that can be accessed from anywhere and at any time through a web browser. The automatically interrelated data from these network devices is reported in real time, providing a comprehensive view of security operations to ensure the appropriate actions are immediately taken. This technology has come a long way since the days of analogue and the limitations this imposed on both system configuration and user implementation.

Freed from the constraints of traditional technology, a network-based system can be easily customised with a variety of devices from different manufacturers and expanded or up-graded either system-wide or on a door-by-door basis. There are IP access control products suitable for installations of all sizes while the versatile technological mix of the most up-to-date and robust components, with no need for hardwiring, can provide a very cost-effective, value added solution. IP systems also facilitate installations that are flexible and scalable with the ability for growth, changes and additions, ensuring maximum security and delivering future-proof investments.

IP access control gives a big boost to upgraded access control system functions and operations also, offering an increased level of identity verification, authentication, encryption and credential authentication while smart card and biometric technologies strengthen the verification factors.

While traditional proprietary access control systems come with limitations, require expensive cabling and restrict system integration, the utilisation of IP opens up the digital environment; creating opportunities to integrate not only video but intrusion detection and a host of other technologies: from HVAC and building management through HR systems and perimeter control to fire detection.

With the huge demand for the correlation of data from intrusion alarms, video surveillance, card access, visitor management, asset tracking and other systems to share data and intelligence across an existing network infrastructure, IP makes it possible to provide a uniform, manageable, user-friendly and powerful single-site solution that is able to extend to multi-site management.

The Internet of Things

The ‘internet of things’ (IoT) is becoming a commonly used phrase across all sectors but particularly the technology sector. Indeed, so significant are the predictions for IoT that the UK Government is investing £40m, including the launch of IoTUK; a programme of activities aimed at advancing the UK’s global leadership in IoT and nurturing the adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector.

The hope this offers is that we will have new solutions to challenges commissioned and developed by SMEs that utilise rapidly evolving technologies to improve businesses and services. And where does this leave CCTV? Well placed actually, with IoT opening up some interesting and intriguing future possibilities. For example, imagine street lighting that could ‘intelligently’ identify and recognise when some less than desirable people are lurking about and disturbing the neighbourhood, altering the light intensity or colour as a warning. Here, CCTV would be helpful, but it also requires people to review the images and intervene – it required the human touch. However, if the CCTV’s part of a wider, fully integrated IoT solution, it would then be about smart systems talking to each other and making decisions autonomously to make our lives easier, safer and more secure.

Today, businesses see a marked change in the threats they face which in turn is leading to an increased focus on intelligence. This will only continue to grow as those with law enforcement and security responsibility proactively piece together information to understand and eliminate threats before they become incidents. Having the right tools to do this is going to be a market driver in the security market.

Changing times, differing skills

There was a time, not so long ago, when a local security firm or a half decent electrician with some cabling knowledge and a long ladder could turn up to install a CCTV system.  But the decline of analogue installations as IP has gained more and more traction has led to a schism in the CCTV sector with a resultant diversification in skill sets. No longer is possible, or even acceptable, for suppliers and installers to not have the requisite industry skills and accreditations that both the new technologies and, ultimately customers demand.

With security a corporate necessity, CCTV systems’ suppliers and integrators have to possess the technical know-how and competence to go beyond the ability to simply stick-up a few cameras around a building and connect them together. They have to possess the wherewithal to operate as a total solutions provider, with an in-depth knowledge of the commercial and strategic safety and security issues facing organisations in an uncertain and at times, volatile world.

Staff must be properly trained and qualified to the requisite industry standards (NACOSS), and understand the new IP technologies and how these interact with, and add value to other essential corporate systems – having standard network topology that aligns with the IT industry is beneficial in the new interconnected electronic security age, because as security integrators we have to work closely with customers’ IT departments.

The skills’ set needed to incorporate IP CCTV solutions has to be an on-going educational process undertaken by all management and installers. Having expert knowledge in IT and network electronic technology, enables staff to research, test and genuinely understand the different systems as they come to market. This not only makes the execution and integration of access control systems more feasible but also ensures the benefit far exceeds expectations.

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