Switchers & Switches - Expert commentary

Surge Protection For Security Installations: 2017 Saw Increased Investment
Surge Protection For Security Installations: 2017 Saw Increased Investment

In 2017, DITEK saw how power surges from the many natural disasters that took place damaged many businesses. In a natural disaster, or even everyday business operations, a facility’s entire investment in security, life safety and surveillance systems technology can be disabled or rendered useless in a few seconds. Surge protection solutions can mitigate those risks and protect security investments. Proactive Approach To Risk Mitigation Throughout 2017, we also witnessed a change in how enterprises view surge protection, which included how investments are being made in surge protection to protect valuable security, life safety and surveillance systems, while also reducing downtime, manpower costs, liability vulnerabilities, and possibly compliance issues that can force businesses to actually cease operations. Effective security management is about mitigating risks. But risks cannot be mitigated without a proactive approach. Enterprises and integrators, who take the time to assess risk and to develop a strategy to incorporate effective detection, deter and response criteria to protect physical assets will be successful in 2018. 2018 And Beyond That strategy includes designing surge protection into new security systems, while also adding surge protection to existing systems. Enterprises and security integrators who implement a surge protection strategy during security planning processes – or after – will be exercising prevention and mitigation, and they will be successful in 2018 and beyond.  Surge protection devices have an untapped potential for enterprise surveillance and security systems In 2017, Ditek continued to offer security end users a solid surge protection solution. We also successfully educated system integrators, who are seeking value-added products or services to incorporate into their portfolios, on the importance of surge protection devices. Educating Security Integrators We believe that surge protection devices have an untapped potential for enterprise video surveillance and security systems, because they can and do meet safety and security challenges that have been rarely identified in the past. We are looking forward to 2018, when we will continue to develop new surge protection products – including a new product engineered to protect up to twelve individual fuel dispensers, which is critical to the financial operation of convenience stores. We will also continue to educate security integrators about the importance of including surge protection in the design/build RFP, to not only secure an enterprise’s valuable security equipment, but also to help integrators to differentiate their capabilities and knowledge from the competition.

Technology Evolution Leads To Changes In Security Control Room Furniture
Technology Evolution Leads To Changes In Security Control Room Furniture

Technology is changing the look and function of today’s security control rooms. Old-school CRT (cathode-ray tube) monitors are giving way to the thinner, flat screen monitors in the control room environment, but the transition is gradual. Randy Smith of Winsted still sees many control rooms that need to make the conversion, which is a boon to his company’s business. Furniture today is designed differently to accommodate the thinner monitors, often with larger screens. Need For Integrated Rack Systems With the increase of IP-based systems comes the need for integrated rack systems that include advanced functionality such as cable management, adds Jim Coleman, National Sales Manager, AFC Industries. Server rooms are environmentally controlled by cooling systems and power systems monitored on the IP network. Low-profile flat screens allow centers to utilize space vertically, thus creating a smaller footprint for the consoles. Additionally, with IP-based systems, workstations will have a smaller footprint because there is less cumbersome equipment. In most cases the servers are stored in a secured, climate controlled environment to eliminate overheating of the servers and maintain their security, says Coleman. This environment also helps with cable and power management. AFC builds technical furniture racks that adhere to the precise needs of computer network server room operators. The company designs and fabricates LAN workbenches with versatile functionalities, and server room workstation racks that are scalable. There is a complete line of IT workbenches, IT computer racks and computer server rack mounts with flexible mounting options. In most cases the servers are stored in a secured, climate controlled environment to eliminate overheating of the servers and maintain their security Flexible Control Room Designs Matko Papic, Chief Technology Officer of Evans Consoles, says the transition from bulky CRT equipment to flat-screen (lower profile) monitors was a major disruption in control room design; it changed the whole dynamic. Another evolution is the use of IP video streaming, which allows more flexibility in manipulation of audio-video content, and requires more flexible control room designs. Another shift, driven by larger, higher-definition monitors, is a shift to fewer monitors that display more information. Instead of a smaller monitor for each information stream, larger monitors now consolidate that information into “dashboard” displays. Looking ahead, control rooms will need to be more flexible, both in the initial design and the ability to adapt to changing technology, says Papic. Legacy customers who are currently using PCs may be moving to more remote applications. Sit-stand equipment will continue to be increasingly prevalent. “There will be more emphasis on flexibility, technology integration, and the ability to change over the life of the system,” says Papic. Consolidation Of Multiple Operations Into A Single System A trend in security is consolidation of multiple physical operations into a single system, says Papic. As a result, more customers are taking more interest in alarm management and situational awareness. How is the technology being used in terms of alarm triggers? How can the systems react rapidly and provide information to a larger audience in the control room? These questions impact how control rooms are designed, and Evans Consoles can adapt lessons learned from other markets to these trends in the security arena. Greater use of technology is inevitable, says Coleman of AFC Industries. “It is virtually impossible for humans to monitor all security data at the street level in our cities,” he says. “As computers become more powerful and their programs more all-encompassing, we will see a greater shift to robotic and technology uses that will provide enhanced monitoring capabilities and safety reactions.” Read our Control Rooms series here

Will Security Industry Consolidation Stifle Innovation?
Will Security Industry Consolidation Stifle Innovation?

The security industry will continue to see consolidation through acquisition in 2017. At the advent of IP camera adoption, we saw a great decline in large vertically integrated companies, which spurred a new era of innovation within smaller IP camera manufacturers, VMS providers and other hardware companies for storage and managed switches.   We are now living in a new era of consolidation that is taking us full-circle back to vertical integration. Ultimately, the industry as a whole suffers because this consolidation will stifle innovation until the next big technology disruption takes shape. Interoperability Across Different Verticals  This time last year, we noted that the marketplace was moving toward converged technologies and the need for alarm management across multiple platforms into a common interface, turned out to be a popular request. If anything, we are only seeing just the beginning phases of this transition. The biggest surprise is that interoperability is not only confined to security technology, but also extends to parallel systems such as building automation, safety and environmental controls, and even Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Using Video Event Management Software (VEMS) alongside these intelligent platforms proves to be a valuable verification process for many new and exciting vertical markets. Arteco plans to continue the revenue growth and brand awareness achieved in 2016 Event-Based Video Security Software At Arteco, our highest growth sectors tend to be slightly insulated from economic fluctuation in the sense that we focus on securing critical infrastructure (electrical utilities and communications) as well as corporate and education campuses. Unfortunately, the continued growth in active shooter incidents have made physical security concerns top of mind for many organizations regardless of economic impact. The unexpected repercussions are that many new security technologies are emerging that cater to real-time event notification on both the macro and micro level. The exciting part of this trend is that users are leveraging a layered approach with multiple autonomous applications working together toward a common goal to improve security, which will hopefully ensure a high level of protection.  Business Growth And Challenges Business has continued to grow year-over-year, and 2016 was a huge step forward for Arteco not only in terms of revenue growth, but also increased brand awareness in the United States and abroad. Our biggest challenge continues to be the crowded VMS market, which is filled with lower cost or even free substitute products. We are making great strides in overcoming this challenge by having a wonderful team of people, both on the technical and sales side of the organization, who are focused on finding new and innovative ways to advance intuitive, open and affordable event-based and intelligent video security software into 2017. See the full coverage of 2016/2017 Review and Forecast articles here

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Security Experts Discuss Security System Lifecycle Considerations, Effectiveness And Cost Control
Security Experts Discuss Security System Lifecycle Considerations, Effectiveness And Cost Control

A substantial focus of the security industry is on the selection and installation of security systems, and there is no doubt that this is a critical element of the process. However, in order to ensure that security systems such as access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection and panic alarms deliver on ‘game day’, an equal if not greater emphasis has to be put on the actions that are taken after the installers have closed the doors on the truck and driven away. This article covers some important issues that were covered at the 2019 International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) annual conference in Miami, Florida, where Frank Pisciotta, CSC, Business Protection Specialists, Inc. and Michael Silva, CPP, Silva Consultants, facilitated a discussion among security professionals on the topic. Backwards compatibility in access control solutions David Barnard of RS2 security highlighted the importance of backwards compatibility in access control solutions David Barnard of RS2 Technologies LLC highlighted the importance of backwards compatibility in access control software solutions. Reputable manufacturers are constantly evolving software products and it is critical that software continues to work with all installed hardware or owners will find themselves purchasing equipment a second time, which is never good news. An example, a case study with a client where the video management software upgrades were not backwards compatible through the mobile app and a small manufacturing site was looking at a US$ 75,000 price tag to upgrade cameras to make them compatible with the ‘updated software’. Risks of failures in door hardware products Jim Primovic from ASSA ABLOY cautioned about the risks of failures in door hardware products resulting in a failure to attention to detail in the selection and, in particular, the installation process. He explained the importance of using certified installers to avoid operation problems. In light of constantly evolving software revisions, how often does one see any additional training provided to end users when software updates are released? Charles Johnson of Open Options raised this important point and it is an excellent one. As organizations think about structuring maintenance agreements, it might be wise to consider ongoing training to cover software updates and ensure that end users can continue to optimize the features and benefits of software revisions. Software Support Kim Kornmaier of Honeywell mentioned another element of security system lifecycle consideration, which is ‘Software Support’. Maintenance agreements are available and will likely be offered from every installer and come in a variety of flavors. However, care needs to be exercised to ensure that whatever services and support are included, in the scope of a maintenance agreement, have a clear correlation between service and software upgrades versus the fee charged. Software upgrades and system testing Maintenance agreements should be avoided that simply guarantee the free replacement of parts (which may or may not ever get used, even after you pay for it). Services that should be considered include software upgrades, system testing and replacement of consumable parts, like back up batteries. Another key issue ties directly to periodically measuring and ensuring the risk reduction results of security systems, for example, with an access control system, there are several actions recommended for system owners, including: Conduct periodic door and alarm testing - This presumes users have installed all of the necessary parts to enable alarm monitoring). These tests should include the mechanical testing of doors and confirming door-held-open-too-long and forced-door alarms are properly reporting to the alarm client. Importance of harnessing door alarming capacity Excessive door alarms are an indication of either a user or system problem Excessive door alarms are an indication of either a user or system problem or all alarms should be investigated to determine root cause and corrective action needed. Organizations who fail to harness door alarming capability are giving away up to 50 percent of the system's potential benefit. Ensuring the integrity of the access control database is of prime importance. The failure to manage this can lead to unauthorized access and serious security incidents. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but in the majority of risk assessments they have conducted over the years, it is common to find separated employees and contractor records with active credentials in the database. Ways to mitigate this risk include: Integrating your access control database with active directory (works for employees, not so well for contractors); Utilizing expiration dates on contractor credentials; Periodically manually auditing contractor and employee active badge reports for anomalies, which may indicate process weaknesses in the change management process; Utilizing the ‘use it or lose it’ feature in many software programs that automatically disable a credential after a set period of non-use (e.g., 90 days); and Establishing processes to limit the removal of certain badges from the site (e.g., those issued to contractors or temporary employees). ‘First Card Unlock’ feature Irregular schedules, holidays and natural disasters can result in access vulnerability. For instance, if access-controlled doors at a site are programmed to open on a timer and something prevents persons from arriving at work (e.g., snowstorm), a site may be left exposed. A mitigation technique against this type of risk would be to employ a concept called ‘First Card Unlock’. Under this feature, a lobby entrance to an office, for instance, would not enter into an unlocked state, until the first authorized employee presented a card and entered the workplace. Changing holiday programming in security systems Holiday programming in some systems needs to be changed on an annual basis Holiday programming in some systems needs to be changed on an annual basis. Managing holidays in an access control system results in doors staying secure which would otherwise be unlocked on a normal business day. Similarly, intrusion detection, duress devices and video surveillance systems can let users down without the proper care and feeding. Examples would include: A panic device fails to communicate an emergency situation because it was not properly reset or the wiring has been damaged due to poor installation. Panic devices should be regularly tested and ideally the activation during testing should be by a person who would be required to use the device in an actual incident. The objective here is to build competency in the persons who may need to activate a device discretely. Similarly, intrusion detection systems should be carefully tested to ensure that all devices are properly reporting to the panel and that the panel is communicating properly to the central station. If there are redundant communications channels, each should be verified. In the same way someone would conduct audits of active credentials in an access control system, it is strongly recommended that users perform a similar review with PIN codes, which have been assigned and would allow for an unauthorized person to disarm a system. Utilizing the failure-to-close feature to ensure that through collusion or negligence, if the last person out of a restricted area fails to arm the panel, the central station will notify a responsible party about the omission. Further, reviewing opening and closing reports might well detect inappropriate entries by authorized personnel which are indicative of suspicious or illegal activity. These features and reports will likely be at an additional cost, but they are important insurance to protect against insider threat. It is not uncommon to hear about an incident happening and during the investigation, the owner of the system discovers that the needed camera was not recording. Where video is not under routine observation, it is recommended to determine if your video management system can send an alarm in the event of video loss. This would allow for rapid remediation before the video loss is discovered in the course of an investigation. Avoiding degraded video quality over time In almost every case, degraded video quality is directly related to resource saturation With respect to video surveillance, as systems grow and evolve over the life of the system, organizations may experience degradation. Darren Giacomini of BCDVideo has studied this issue extensively and concludes that in many cases, installers or others are simply putting too many devices on a VLAN, which results in latency and other conflicts. Degraded video quality has a finite number of potential root causes. In almost every case, degraded video quality is directly related to resource saturation. The resources on a surveillance network consist of IP cameras, network switches, network uplinks, viewing stations, database management and archives. Resource depletions According to Giacomini, each of the resource shares a common thread. And, at the basic level, each of those items is nothing more than a purpose-built computer with limited CPU, memory and network capacity. When any of these resources exceed their capacity, the quality of service delivered will degrade. The following are common resource depletions that can degrade video quality and require a much deeper dive, but are included here as a starting point: IP camera CPU utilization is in excess of 85 percent; CPU elevation in the decoder or workstation decoding the video; and Network congestion or CPU elevation in the network switch. Maintaining the integrity of archived video data Giacomini indicated that the majority of the time degraded video is associated with resource depletion Giacomini indicated that the majority of the time degraded video is associated with resource depletion in one of these key components. Investigation of the potential causes can save time and effort, and prevent a video management software application from unduly being blamed for poor performance during its lifecycle. Also, on the topic of video, John Kampfhenkel, Director of Technical Sales at Veracity discussed the challenges that organizations face when video management system storage is undersized and the need to carefully plan for video retention of existing recorded data when the video system has to be expanded. This can be a problem organizations face and when they do, it is best to involve a video storage expert to determine options, costs and potential legal requirements for maintaining the integrity of archived video data. Selecting the right security technology Dependent on the level and type of integration between various systems, another challenge may be to preserve the integration between the two systems. System owners will need to coordinate carefully with installer(s) to ensure that a software revision to one system will not result in a disruption to a software level integration. This type of integration may require a delay in being able to upgrade one or the other application software versions until the integration can again be certified. Selecting the right security technology is an important element of an organization's security risk management. However, experts would argue that in terms of getting measurable results from technology, there needs to be a keen focus on sustaining activities after the installer closes the doors and drives away. By adhering to the consultant and manufacturers' guidance in this article, organizations can substantially reduce the risk to people, assets and information, and prevent criminal and terrorist incidents in the workplace.

Connected Technologies And Digital Watchdog Unveil New Software Integrations To Help Dealers And Customers
Connected Technologies And Digital Watchdog Unveil New Software Integrations To Help Dealers And Customers

Connected Technologies LLC, provider of a powerful cloud-hosted security management platform and Digital Watchdog (DW™), the provider of digital recorders, surveillance cameras and video management software have unveiled new integrations between DW Spectrum and Connect ONE that provide deeper reporting and management controls for dealers and their customers. Connect ONE and DW Spectrum integrate natively through software to receive or trigger notifications or events without system configuration such as opening a vulnerable in-bound port on the end-user’s network, port forwarding or connecting to the user’s IP address. Output control and lockdown With the expanded integration, dealers can add new feature sets, events and notifications gathered from DW Spectrum’s VMS, NVR or surveillance cameras for viewing and control on the Connect ONE, all-in-one interface. “Connect ONE is focused on expanding the possibilities for integrated systems for our dealer-customers,” said Dan Simon, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Connected Technologies. “This integration gives dealers the ability to provide more value in their managed services offerings through Connect ONE,” he said. Connect ONE’s users can receive events to monitor the health status of the NVR or perform special logging of activities or analytics. All Connect ONE Event Rules can be activated in response to NVR events such as report logging, notifications to users and system control – including arming, disarming, output control and lockdown. Connect ONE pushed system events such as arming, alarm, access, trouble and audit changes to the NVR are supported. Providing complete solutions ConnectOne’s ability to simplify integration with a variety of technology presents an opportunity for DW Dealers" Events are shown on the DW Spectrum interface to indicate the source and type of event along with a text description, such as user, zone, door, area, etc. Events received by the NVR can also record video bookmarks, trigger a camera preset and increase recording quality. “We are excited to see our technology partners take a deeper dive into DW Spectrum’s open architecture and all the functionality it offers,” said Patrick Kelly, Director of IP Video Solutions, DW. “ConnectOne’s ability to simplify integration with a wide variety of technology really presents an opportunity for DW Dealers to provide complete solutions.” DW Spectrum and Connect ONE integrate via direct network connection or DW Cloud. Integrated security management solution Following set up, users can retrieve a camera list for quick and easy configuration, view live video, search playback recordings, record snapshots upon an event from intrusion/access system for video verification and review a 10-second pre-event and up to a 45-second post event video clip. DW Spectrum is a powerful and user-friendly IP Video Management software, highly optimized to provide unlimited scalability, unmatched bandwidth savings and simplified system setup and management. Connect ONE by Connected Technologies is a cloud-hosted integrated security management solution which provides a single user interface to control intrusion, access control, video surveillance, critical environmental monitoring and energy management. Connect ONE works with the Bosch B and G series as well as DMP XR/XT series, ELK M1 series and Honeywell Vista Turbo security and access control panels.

The Role Of Building Systems To Ensure Safety As Employees Return To Work
The Role Of Building Systems To Ensure Safety As Employees Return To Work

Returning to work after the global pandemic will not be business as usual, and security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping to keep occupants and buildings safe. For example, video analytics can provide insight into how spaces have previously been used and can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other or congregate. These foot-traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices – like ventilation and temperature controls – and even help owners create social distancing plans and monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance. “While the ‘new normal’ is still being defined, we believe there will be a greater focus on creating healthier environments while also complying with new regulations,” says Marcus Logan, Global Offering Leader, Honeywell Commercial Security. “Temperature, humidity, energy efficiency, security, safety, comfort, productivity, and demonstrating compliance with regulations are all a part of a healthy building.” For example, social distancing is a new concept for the workplace. How do you make that happen in an open work setting, in breakrooms, elevator lobbies and meeting spaces? Optimized systems create healthier environments Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace Building owners will need to look at how they can optimize their systems – or deploy new ones – to create a healthier environment. Building technologies, like those provided by Honeywell's Healthy Buildings solutions, provide building owners with more control over critical factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations, and a company's risk management policies. These solutions also provide transparency for occupants into a building's status, says Logan. Hygiene will be a critical issue: People will want to know that the spaces are ready for their return. Increased cleaning procedures and schedules will evolve, and a way will be needed to demonstrate the procedures are effective and that they have been strictly adhered to. Identifying ways to measure effectiveness of sanitisation and track compliance to the procedures will be a key challenge to solve. This is a space that will evolve significantly in the coming months and years, says Logan. Access control and video analytics Contact tracing is a new requirement in some businesses, and security technology – like access control and video analytics with advanced reporting – can help. Access control technology integrated with video analytics can be used to trace occupant movements within a facility. These technologies capture data that can be used with advanced reporting to provide a digital footprint of where a person has been within a facility and if they may have been exposed to someone identified as being infected with a contagious virus. Building owners can then proactively notify exposed individuals evolve to self-quarantine and minimize further spread of an infection. Video analytics can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other Anxious employees will need reassurance about returning to the workplace. They will not only seek confidence that the building is optimized for a healthier environment but also that processes are in place to quickly identify and respond to potential issues. Transparency and visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace. “One way to do this is to share building analytics with occupants – to help them understand factors about the indoor air quality or occupancy density,” says Logan. Controlled health, safety and security Honeywell’s solutions provide building owners with more control over critical health, safety and security factors to encourage sustained compliance with changing building standards, safety guidelines, government-issued regulations and a company’s risk management policies, Logan adds. Visibility into how the building works and the health of the environment will help to reassure occupants returning to the workplace Every day there is new information coming from the medical and scientific community about COVID-19, and the building industry is just starting to learn what it all means. Logan warns that there is no single solution that will keep every environment healthy and safe. A good strategy features deploying a combination of solutions, optimising systems and being vigilant to make sure that companies are sustaining compliance to new and changing regulations, says Logan. “Today more than ever we must be mindful of the changing culture of how buildings are managed by making apparent the need to be mindful of health and well-being in all aspects of our lives,” says Logan. Honeywell has developed outcome-based solutions that allow building owners to transparently address building quality factors while supporting their business continuity needs in the uncertain environment. “We’re giving them the data they need to confidently reassure their employees to accelerate their business operations,” he adds.