State of Security


Security experts say digital technology is quickly becoming the norm, particularly in the CCTV realm, and that other, formerly exotic equipment, such as biometrics, is also gaining more acceptance.

CSE: What are some of the newest and trendiest security technologies being considered for facilities these days?

GARCIA: Trendy technologies would have to include video system enhancements, pedestrian access control, biometric access and automated vehicle penetration bollards.

For example, digital video devices, with larger storage capacity and more effective data retrieval, have replaced analog equipment. Digital provides these benefits through integration into existing facility LAN infrastructures.

Also, storage of video images on dedicated security systems is no longer the only alternative. The trend is toward images stored on computer mainframes managed by the IT departments.

In access control, the utilization of turnstiles in main lobbies has become more common, since they provide a means of establishing accountability for individuals entering and exiting.

The use of magnetometers and x-ray equipment is being seen more in manufacturing facilities and high-rise buildings. In some instances, this equipment is used at main entry portals—in other cases, for tenant, dock or mailroom areas.

And now that the cost of biometric devices has come down, we see these units helping facilities meet their needs for security.

Finally, more and more facilities are using automated bollards to restrict vehicle penetration into the building or key areas such as lobbies and docks. Several years ago these units were considered too expensive—and hence, unwarranted—for most facilities.

BORDES: Most of the newest technologies fall into the CCTV category with many new developments being introduced into the market, such as network video transmission systems, digital cameras, network video recorders and new systems architecture, that will ultimately eliminate the matrix switcher as well as the DVR in global system designs.

New improvements are also being introduced with field panels, smart cards and biometrics, the latter of which is expected to be the technology that will have the greatest impact on security applications, as well as day-to-day business transactions.

KIELBASA: I am also seeing newer technologies in visitor management systems as well as seamless integration of access control systems with event monitoring, review and control. Also, the use of twisted-pair video network; Anixter's closed-circuit twisted-pair video and power transmission; and new products from Nitek and Network Video Technologies are capturing interest.

CSE: How common is it for security systems to use the web?

ZIVNEY: Interestingly, it has been much more useful to the industry to use technologies born of the web rather than the web itself. In other words, technologies such as IP cameras, networked digital video servers/recorders, VoIP, HTML graphic pages, HTML e-mail alerts to PDAs and XML-based interfaces are just as exciting when deployed on an intranet as opposed to the Internet.

GARCIA: After being incorporated into many security systems for the last two years, web-based access has become a standard product offering for large system manufacturers. This same feature for security alarm and video monitoring is also largely available and has been used in less sensitive facilities. At the same time, although network protection is available for web-accessed devices, many higher security facilities are still reluctant to implement it.

BORDES: Signal transmission applications utilizing the web have become quite common ever since a major breakthrough in this technology came about as a result of video signal transmissions. Consequently, the industry has been able to transfer data such as access control information on the web as the systems send digital data.

The introduction of the digital camera, along with greater compression rates and reduced pricing for network interface components, have also had a major impact on getting the video signal into the network environment.

KIELBASA: More than half of the systems installed today operate over the end user's intranet or supplied network using network appliances. To get such a system up and running, the end user is responsible for supplying IP addresses to the systems integrator who, in turn, plugs the system in to operate over their network. At the same time, firewall issues are addressed.

In addition, when visitor management systems are integrated with access control or reviewing recorded digital video from DVRs or network video, the Internet is utilized.

Basically, most system designs seem to be moving in this direction, but there is still a service interruption concern with putting all the systems on a customer network and the issue of major security problems, alarm-wise, when a disruption occurs.

CSE: How about web-based hand-held devices?

BORDES: The use of devices such as PDAs has been catching on to a limited extent as the issue of being able to see streaming video on a palm-type unit is still a limiting factor. However, once those issues are improved upon, the hand-held devices may become more prevalent in the architecture of integrated electronic security systems.

KIELBASA: I agree. Using PDAs seems to be more of a sales feature, and in reality, is not readily used. However, more and more it's coming down to the Palm Pilot, Pocket PC and Blackberry.

CSE: Returning to the general topic of security technologies, what has essentially become standard in buildings?

GARCIA: Traditional security systems include access control, alarm monitoring, CCTV surveillance, digital recording and in most instances, dedicated communications systems. These systems have become staples in almost all facilities. However, the level of sophistication is dependent upon their perceived or known risks. Additionally, interface of video and access control alarm systems into existing or planned IT networks between distant facilities has become a standard.

BORDES: I would add intrusion detection to the list of basics. There also appears to be quite an interest in technologies related to portal-control devices, such as revolving doors and optical turnstile units that incorporate retractable barriers. Much of this interest stems from concerns related to an unauthorized person entering the workplace, as well as a higher degree of acceptance on the part of the workforce personnel.

Biometric technologies are also becoming more popular in office areas for such things as after-hours elevator control, positive identification of personnel entering higher risk areas and ensuring an accurate evidentiary audit trail for access-control transactions.

CSE: Is it safe to say that most facilities have switched or will soon be switching over to digital video? If so, what are the ramifications?

KIELBASA: Yes. Most are switching over to digital and network video. With digital video via coax and twisted-pair, analog cameras can be brought over very easily to the new digital video recorders. The digital video recorder usually has the ability to be viewed on a network via a static IP address and viewing software. This is usually for playback or live video viewing. Bandwidth is often the big concern, especially when network video is used with new IP cameras. The jury is out on streaming video over a customer's network due to bandwidth concerns. For this reason, I think we'll probably see use of separate video networks.

BORDES: That's my assessment too. Analog camera systems are basically a thing of the past. That said, one must remember that the introduction of the network transmission systems will have a major impact on the digital video world, because it eliminates some major components that have been depended upon in the past and will not be required in large network driven systems. What impact that will have and the time frame applicable to those changes will be driven by the availability of systems that work, are cost-effective and can be maintained by the industry.

The primary impact will be a lot less cabling, reduced cost, increased efficiency and hopefully cost-effective designs. By being able to incorporate the video system onto a network in the same manner as one does with data transmission, this will literally open the door to a true global system design.

GARCIA: Elements to consider in the realm of digital video are the camera, wiring, recording device, compression type and image review capabilities, both real-time and stored.

Most facilities today are using what are considered to be hybrid systems comprised of a combination of digital and analog components. The extent of digital components is often based upon cost, current infrastructure and specific needs at the facility. It is very rare at this time to have a completely digital system and network established in a facility.

It's true that digital components will continue to be introduced into facilities, especially as their integration capabilities and costs continue to match traditional analog systems. However, in my opinion, a full transition may not occur for another five to seven years, primarily due to existing equipment and infrastructures in many facilities.

But one series of developments that is driving the replacement of analog video recorders with digital is the ongoing development of software and hardware that will provide an effective digital video control matrix. Analog matrix units will, in the future, no longer be required for effective real-time monitoring of video surveillance cameras.

CSE: Describe any recent or anticipated changes that the industry expects regarding standards.

BORDES: The standards environment will soon become very confusing. Every major organization and association—including the U.S. government—is trying to write standards, and all are having a very tough time. For example, the government introduced and issued its chip card several years ago and now Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 201 is making its chip technology obsolete. Meanwhile, several hundred thousand cards have already been issued to military and government employees, among others.

ZIVNEY: There are new standards based on the Uniform Modeling Language due out from the Security Industry Assn. this month. These standards—all targeted at interoperability— address access control, digital video servers and credential readers. The good news is that these proposals are sensitive to the standards just introduced by the government for Homeland Security under Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), which is based on FIPS 201.

CSE: What other general trends are you observing with security designs?

GARCIA: The most obvious is the need to communicate with IT departments. Many systems are interfacing to existing networks in some capacity and the IT groups want to legitimately know what is being terminated onto their networks. Security of the network and bandwidth utilization are common topics of discussion within these groups.

BORDES: There has been an increased willingness on the part of corporate management to devote more resources to the security function at their respective companies. However, the industry needs more incentive such as tax credits or similar deductible categories that can be applied toward security equipment purchases and program upgrades. For example, there is really no incentive for better trained security officers. Hence, the selection decision is based, in many instances, on the hourly charge as opposed to quality of the officer.

There has also been an increasing awareness on the part of the general workforce. People are more willing to accept video surveillance, identification processes, screening and other security "inconveniences" that, prior to 9/11, would receive a high level of resistance. The mindset of the general population is changing, and security, to some extent, is benefiting from this change.


Ray Bordes , President and CEO, Bordes Group, Orlando

Henry R. Garcia , CCP, Vice President, Kroll Schiff & Assocs., Chicago

Mike Kielbasa , Security Division, Manager, MidCo, Burr Ridge, Ill.

Rob Zivney , Vice President of Marketing, Hirsch Electronics, Santa Ana, Calif.

Establishing a Standard

A big problem in writing standards for security systems is identifying a purpose: Design standards? Application standards? A mixture of the two? Unlike the one-size-fits-all type standards for fire and sprinkler systems design, security equipment is chosen based on function and the ability to meet the application. For example, two buildings that are identical in design could require different security applications due to differing building uses.

The situation can be very confusing for end users. The result may be inadequate protection programs that increases a firm's exposure to possible litigation for negligent security.

However, we cannot demand that standards be accepted by end users. All we can do is develop standards and request that other concerned parties—such as insurance underwriters and risk managers—insist on them being enforced. Currently, in some jurisdictions, law enforcement is attempting to provide this service, but for the most part, is not really doing a good job due to lack of consistency. Furthermore, the level of expertise required for this type of analysis is well above the training received by law enforcement personnel.

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