Download PDF version Contact company

QBE Insurance Group is Australia's largest international general insurance & reinsurance group, and one of the top 25 insurers and reinsurers worldwide.

Outside London, QBE has underwriting centers located in Birmingham, Bristol, Chelmsford, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Stafford.

The situation

Head of European Security, Mark Thompson, joined QBE in 2000, becoming responsible for security throughout QBE.

"It was immediately obvious that there was no "joined up" approach to security across the UK offices," commented Mark Thompson, QBE. "It was disjointed and lacked any clear priorities - ultimately the business and its assets were at risk I therefore embarked on a project to overhaul the system."

The requirement was to upgrade the existing security equipment and to install an integrated access, video and intruder solution.

As a result of the findings of the security audit, a five year plan was produced by Thompson and his team to address the concerns. The key focus of the plan was that each QBE site would use the same video, access and intruder equipment with complete connectivity & integration. It was important from his point of view that his teams were able to monitor each building remotely and obtain the necessary management information.

The business challenges that made the upgrade essential were:

  • Multiple offices located around the UK.
  • An obsolete access control system that delivered little management information.
  • Little or no integration between the access, video and intruder detection systems.

With a good working relationship already established, QBE and Mark Thompson were delighted to put this upgrade project in the hands of Direct Security and Honeywell. Direct Security is a Select member of the Honeywell Systems Integrator program, and has been prescribing and installing Honeywell products for many years.

The solution

QBE had considered removing the existing Honeywell WIN-PAK®SE access control system which would have incurred a considerable cost to the business. However, Direct Security produced a solution that would allow the WIN-PAK system to continue to deliver considerable cost savings.

With a more integrated system across all sites and better reporting, the expectation was to reduce the need for any additional security guards and to generate efficiencies by providing the staff with comprehensive training on an intuitive, easy to use system. Mark Thompson wanted to see a 20% reduction in maintenance costs over a five year period with a 10% reduction in manpower.

"We were looking to achieve cost reductions over a 5 year period," added Thompson. "This would effectively make the new security system cost neutral, a very sound investment, not just from a business security point of view, but also from a financial perspective. I needed an installer I could trust implicitly. The team at Direct Security provides that in abundance via their consultative approach, expert knowledge and technical capabilities."

An upgrade of firmware allowed the existing controllers to integrate with the new Honeywell WIN-PAK system 
 The Fusion DVR can now be used for monitoring license number plates of visiting vehicles

Direct Security introduced an upgraded Honeywell WIN-PAK® SE system which would allow the three main QBE offices at Chelmsford, 88 Leadenhall Street, London and Plantation Place, London to be connected and managed together. The Fusion DVR can now be used for monitoring license number plates of visiting vehicles

"I know the Honeywell product range well having worked with them on many projects," stated Paul Anderson, Direct Security. "QBE was quite insistent on its requirement for a fully integrated security solution that was reliable, robust and easy to manage. The Honeywell products put forward for tender fit the specification as required."

The server for the new Honeywell WIN-PAK system is located at Leadenhall Street in Central London which enables central control and monitoring of all three sites. An upgrade of firmware at Leadenhall Street allowed the existing controllers to integrate with the new Honeywell WIN-PAK system. New door readers were installed in Chelmsford.

"The upgrade gives additional confidence in the system," stated Anderson. "The network connectivity enables QBE to monitor the systems from any site. We will soon be able to monitor the system remotely or run diagnostic tests or reports meaning that we can identify potential problems before they happen and administer the system remotely if required."

The ongoing project will see the remaining UK sites (Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Stafford, Norwich & Manchester) connected via the Honeywell WIN-PAK® SE system. The readers will change to I-class technology. Currently QBE uses standard proximity cards.

The readers and smart cards installed can be programmed for multiple sites which mean that staff traveling between the company's UK sites require only one card to allow them access to all of the sites. The smart card is capable of storing and processing information and so it has multiple uses from cashless vending, personal information storage and control of access to restricted areas - keeping a record of accumulated points for discount purchases and verifying authenticity. Whilst the new cards will predominantly be used for access control, QBE has scope for wider use in the future.

At the London Office located at 88 Leadenhall Street, the Honeywell WIN-PAK Access Server was upgraded, managing approximately 23 access controlled doors using OmniProxTM proximity cards. A further project to replace the existing and somewhat dated digital video recorders is planned to take place early in 2009.

At the QBE office in Coval Wells, Chelmsford, the Honeywell WIN-PAK upgrade was completed, managing approximately 40 doors. Direct Security has since installed the Honeywell Fusion Digital Video Recorder (DVR) enabling security staff to monitor and record remote images using the Fusion Video Management Software (FVMS).

The Galaxy intruder alarm was connected to the main network and configured to operate directly with WIN-PAK. A recent upgrade has seen an improvement to the security stations which monitor all of the sites. A second monitor has been installed at each location which shows the floor plans of all the sites.

Also installed at the QBE Chelmsford office was the Fusion Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software integrated with the Fusion DVR. This was necessary to prevent the many instances of car park issues. The Fusion combined with the ANPR software was the preferred option as it enabled the security team to search historical events when required, take clear images of non-authorized cars using the staff car park and ensure that they are prevented from entry in the future.

The readers and smart cards installed can be programmed for multiple sites
At the QBE office in Coval Wells, the Honeywell WIN-PAK upgrade manages approximately 40 doors 

The Fusion DVR can now be used for monitoring license number plates of visiting vehicles and logging these number plates in a central database.

Fusion ANPR consists of two parts. Fusion ANPR intelligently monitors traffic via ANPR cameras and logs all passing vehicles. The built-in proprietary database finds registration numbers as the vehicles approach and displays the available information - e.g. driver name, image of driver, vehicle make / model. The Fusion ANPR software then displays specific action messages for the user. An existing database of users or employees may be generated in software programs such as Microsoft® Excel or Access and imported into the Fusion ANPR program.

The benefits

The security operation now benefits from a combined systems approach with remote connectivity and integration across all of the UK offices.

The access control, video, intrusion alarms and ANPR systems can all be controlled from the security hub in London which allows the team to centrally monitor all CCTV and alarm events whilst being able to run consistent and holistic access control reports from the WIN-PAK application.

Importantly, the system is highly scalable, allowing for seamless expansion and development in the future, in line with business requirements.

"When I joined QBE part of my remit was to have a single integrated security solution across our various sites," explained Thompson. "The challenge for me was to do this cost effectively and to demonstrate a return on investment, but to also get the best security solution available for our budget. Honeywell and Direct Security made this possible and now we are reaping the rewards as a business. I trust Direct Security to recommend the right products for the job and for QBE. I have every confidence they will continue to do that. We see the Fusion DVR, WIN-PAK® SE system and Galaxy as setting the standard for the continued development of security & business continuity across QBE in the UK."

Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What Are New Trends In Residential Security?
What Are New Trends In Residential Security?

Residential security and smart homes are rapidly changing facets of the larger physical security marketplace, driven by advances in consumer technology and concerns about rising crime rates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people spent more time at home and became more aware of the need for greater security. As workplaces opened back up, returning workers turned to technology to help them keep watch over their homes from afar. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the trends in residential security in 2021?

How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work
How Businesses Can Protect Their People In The New Age Of Work

Ensuring employee health and safety remains a key priority for organizations this year, especially as we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different areas of the world. As an ongoing challenge, COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of many organizations. In fact, “improving health and safety for employees” is the top strategic goal this year of manufacturing and logistics organizations in the U.S. and U.K., according to research conducted by Forrester on behalf of STANLEY Security. But as we think about reopening and as hybrid workforce models and “workspace-on-demand” approaches rise in popularity, leaders need to consider implementing the right technologies to help ensure a safe return to the office. This means investing in health, safety, and security solutions that can help leaders protect their people. The intersection of security technology and health and safety There’s no doubt that the scope of security has expanded in the wake of the global pandemic. What was once an area governed by a select few security or IT professionals within a business has now become a crucial company investment involving many key stakeholders. The role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses Additionally, the role of security has expanded to encompass a broader range of health and safety challenges for businesses. Fortunately, security technologies have made significant strides and many solutions, both existing and new, have been thrust forward to address today’s biggest business challenges. Investment in security technology It’s important to note that businesses are eager to adopt tech that can help them protect their people. Nearly half (46%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering an increasing investment in technology solutions that ensure employee safety. Technologies like touchless access control, visitor management systems, occupancy monitoring, and installed/wearable proximity sensors are among some of the many security technologies these organizations have implemented or are planning to implement yet this year. Facilitating a safe return to work But what does the future look like? When it comes to the post-pandemic workplace, organizations are taking a hard look at their return-to-work strategy. Flexible or hybrid workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment More than half (53%) of organizations surveyed by Forrester are looking to introduce a flexible work schedule for their employees as they make decisions about returning to work and keeping employees safe post-pandemic. Such flexible – or hybrid – workforce models require a suite of security solutions to help ensure a safer, healthier environment for all who traverse a facility or work on-site. One of the central safety and security challenges raised by these hybrid models is tracking who is present in the building at any one time – and where or how they interact. Leveraging security technology With staggered schedules and what may seem like a steady stream of people passing through, it can be difficult to know who’s an employee and who’s a visitor. Access control will be key to monitoring and managing the flow of people on-site and preventing unauthorized access. When access control systems are properly integrated with visitor management solutions, businesses can unlock further benefits and efficiencies. For instance, integrated visitor management systems can allow for pre-registration of visitors and employees – granting cellphone credentials before people arrive on-site – and automated health screening surveys can be sent out in advance to help mitigate risk. Once someone reaches the premises, these systems can also be used to detect the person’s temperature and scan for a face mask, if needed.  We will likely see these types of visitor management and advanced screening solutions continue to rise in popularity, as 47% of organizations surveyed by Forrester report that they’re considering requiring employee health screening post-pandemic. Defining the office of the future A modern, dynamic workforce model will require an agile approach to office management. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring Businesses want to create an environment in which people feel comfortable and confident – a space where employees can collaborate and be creative. It’s imperative to strike the right balance between making people feel welcome and reassuring them that the necessary security measures are in place to ensure not only their safety but also their health. In many cases, this balancing act has created an unintended consequence: Everyone now feels like a visitor to a building. Protocols and processes With employees required to undergo the same screening processes and protocols as a guest, we’ve seen a transformation in the on-site experience. This further underscores the need for seamless, automated, and tightly integrated security solutions that can improve the employee and visitor experience, while helping to ensure health and safety. Ultimately, the future of the office is not about what a space looks like, but how people feel in it. This means adopting a “safety-always” culture, underpinned by the right technology, to ensure people that their safety remains a business’ top priority. 

Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics
Access The Right Areas - Making A Smart Home Genius With Biometrics

Household adoption of smart home systems currently sits at 12.1% and is set to grow to 21.4% by 2025, expanding the market from US$ 78.3 billion to US$ 135 billion, in the same period. Although closely linked to the growth of connectivity technologies, including 5G, tech-savvy consumers are also recognizing the benefits of next-generation security systems, to protect and secure their domestic lives. Biometric technologies are already commonplace in our smartphones, PCs and payment cards, enhancing security without compromising convenience. Consequently, manufacturers and developers are taking note of biometric solutions, as a way of leveling-up their smart home solutions. Biometrics offer enhanced security As with any home, security starts at the front door and the first opportunity for biometrics to make a smart home genius lies within the smart lock. Why? Relying on inconvenient unsecure PINs and codes takes the ‘smart’ out of smart locks. As the number of connected systems in our homes increase, we cannot expect consumers to create, remember and use an ever-expanding list of unique passwords and PINs. Indeed, 60% of consumers feel they have too many to remember and the number can be as high as 85 for all personal and private accounts. Biometric solutions strengthen home access control Biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control Doing this risks consumers becoming apathetic with security, as 41% of consumers admit to re-using the same password or introducing simple minor variations, increasing the risk of hacks and breaches from weak or stolen passwords. Furthermore, continually updating and refreshing passwords, and PINs is unappealing and inconvenient. Consequently, biometric solutions have a real opportunity to strengthen the security and convenience of home access control. Positives of on-device biometric storage Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint recognition uses personally identifiable information, which is stored securely on-device. By using on-device biometric storage, manufacturers are supporting the 38% of consumers, who are worried about privacy and biometrics, and potentially winning over the 17% of people, who don’t use smart home devices for this very reason. Compared to conventional security, such as passwords, PINs or even keys, which can be spoofed, stolen, forgotten or lost, biometrics is difficult to hack and near impossible to spoof. Consequently, homes secured with biometric smart locks are made safer in a significantly more seamless and convenient way for the user. Biometric smart locks Physical access in our domestic lives doesn’t end at the front door with smart locks. Biometrics has endless opportunities to ease our daily lives, replacing passwords and PINs in all devices. Biometric smart locks provide personalized access control to sensitive and hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, safes, kitchen appliances and bike locks. They offer effective security with a touch or glance. Multi-tenanted sites, such as apartment blocks and student halls, can also become smarter and more secure. With hundreds of people occupying the same building, maintaining high levels of security is the responsibility for every individual occupant. Biometric smart locks limit entry to authorized tenants and eliminate the impact of lost or stolen keys, and passcodes. Furthermore, there’s no need for costly lock replacements and when people leave the building permanently, their data is easily removed from the device. Authorized building access Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door Like biometric smart locks in general, the benefits extend beyond the front door, but also throughout the entire building, such as washing rooms, mail rooms, bike rooms and community spaces, such as gyms. Different people might have different levels of access to these areas, depending on their contracts, creating an access control headache. But, by having biometric smart locks, security teams can ensure that only authorized people have access to the right combination of rooms and areas. Convenience of biometric access cards Additionally, if building owners have options, the biometric sensors can be integrated into the doors themselves, thereby allowing users to touch the sensor, to unlock the door and enter. Furthermore, the latest technology allows biometric access cards to be used. This embeds the sensor into a contactless keycard, allowing the user to place their thumb on the sensor and tap the card to unlock the door. This may be preferable in circumstances where contactless keycards are already in use and can be upgraded. Smarter and seamless security In tandem with the growth of the smart home ecosystem, biometrics has real potential to enhance our daily lives, by delivering smarter, seamless and more convenient security. Significant innovation has made biometrics access control faster, more accurate and secure. Furthermore, today’s sensors are durable and energy efficient. With the capacity for over 10 million touches and ultra-low power consumption, smart home system developers no longer have to worry about added power demands. As consumers continue to invest in their homes and explore new ways to secure and access them, biometrics offers a golden opportunity for market players, to differentiate and make smart homes even smarter.