New prospects for building management and security system integration
Editor / Provider: Israel Gogol, Freelancer, a&s International | Updated: 2/10/2015 | Article type: Tech Corner
Combining security and building management gives an additional layer of information and operational capabilities. A growing number of network-based solutions will increase the benefits of building management systems and security integration. Even though the synergies between the two seem obvious, nonetheless, ownership issues are an obstacle to this integration.
A silver robot is seen gliding along the corridors of Akershus University Hospital (AHUS) in Oslo, Norway. AHUS is one of Norway's “digital hospitals” and among other cutting edge technologies it also uses automated guided vehicles, small robots that travel the hospital using a virtual “track” that deliver supplies (e.g., linens, food, and medicine) from storage rooms to the wards and clear waste. The robots transport special containers weighing up to several hundred kilograms, free up personnel, and increase the hospital's efficiency. However, unlike human employees, these robots can't swipe an access card or press an elevator button. Technology came up with a solution: “The robots are guided by the hospital's building management system (BMS) which is linked to our access control system. The access control system is in charge of opening the doors when a robot approaches, and operating the elevators to take the robots to the right floor,” described David Ella, CTO of AMAG Technology.
This is an example of how integrating security systems with BMS can add an additional layer of information and management capabilities to answer both security and operational needs. Currently these integrations are popular in large campuses like universities, hospitals, and large corporate headquarters.
The connection between BMS and the security system is two-way. “Our products can see the alerts in the BMS system and trigger an alarm,” explained Ella. For example, when a BMS sensor goes into alert (e.g., a heat sensor overheating), this can be converted to an alarm within the security system, prompting security personnel to check if there is a fire. If a fire is detected, the access control system can open doors to make evacuation faster, or provide a report describing which employees are inside the building and where. In the other direction, a swipe of an access card will instruct the BMS to switch on the lights and heating on the employee's specific floor or switch off the lights when the last employee has left. This way, it is possible to achieve cost efficiency, cutting expenses on lighting, heating, and other expenses as well as delivering an eco-friendly value.
Occupancy sensors, used by BMS to detect occupancy and automatically switch on the lights, can alert security systems that an intruder is in the building. For instance, if the security system detects an intrusion, it can switch on the lights in the area so that detecting the intruder is easier and the recorded video footage is clearer.
Market asks for Integration
The value of integrating an access control system with building management is critical in today's data-driven business environment. “More than ever, today's customers require that the systems they invest in be able to integrate with other network-enabled platforms, such as BMS,” explained Mitchell Kane, President of Vanderbilt Industries. The ability to change the environmental or power profile of a building based on information gathered in the access control system is highly valuable, and helps users reduce ongoing costs while controlling access points securely.
The main products integrated with BMS include access control systems (including readers, cards, controllers, and software used to create, manage, and use secure identities) and visitor management systems. “Other integrated systems are mobile access control solutions, including mobile IDs and mobile access apps that are used with mobile-enabled readers, door opening solutions, and lock systems,” said Simon Siew, MD of APAC at HID Global.
Access control and video surveillance are the two systems integrated the most. “By far, the integration between access control and video surveillance systems is the integration that customers request most,” Kane said. Video is a valuable tool when combined with access control data, as it provides visual verification of alarms and a variety of access control events. “The correlation of the data from these two systems also allows for an additional level of situational awareness. Video playback can provide security personnel or first responders with a better understanding of a security or life safety event before responding,” he added.
“In the last two years, we noticed that customers want to move from ‘traditional' BMS companies that are big, expensive, and not so flexible in integrating third party auxiliary systems,” said Rick Huang, Business Development Manager of Alstron. “The solution is software houses that provide third-party software that can connect to the energy management module, video surveillance, and access system. The limitation of these systems is that they have to rely on software development kits supplied by the manufacturer,” he added.
Integraing smart functions
Integration of systems is not the only thing that end users are looking for. In fact, the integration of smart functions, such as analytics is also in demand. “There is the growing demand of more intelligent security systems, intelligent electronic locking systems, and security cloud services that fill the gaps that current systems are either too expensive or cumbersome to maintain,” said Patrick Lim, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Ademco Security Group. “The biggest trend is in smart integrated security systems, or what we call human-centric security. The whole idea is to utilize security technologies to make a facility smarter and a lot friendlier to the inhabitants.”
“Currently, most systems are just integrated but not really smart. Using big data analytics, we can use security devices, which collect the data and have daily interaction with people to predict situations and automate intelligent decisions. This is very different from current solutions that are very rigid and mostly ignore human inhabitants for the sole sake of efficiency and energy saving,” Lim added.
Furthermore, through the use of big data analytics and correlating information from different sources, the systems will be able to predict situations and act accordingly. For example, if the system detects a buildup of people in the lobby of a convention center, this can trigger the air conditioning in the convention hall to start cooling the area in advance in a more efficient way. Currently, the systems only detect the people when they are inside the convention hall, forcing the air conditioning system to “blast” the venue to cool it quickly, which is inefficient and energy consuming.
IP IntegratIon and Its Challenges
Most companies and institutions today have installed a variety of generally disparate and isolated systems, ranging from security, access control, and video surveillance to incident response, perimeter detection, and alarm monitoring. “Although these systems typically cannot easily share information, if at all, there are natural synergies between each of them. IP-based solutions make it easier to integrate the information and provide the opportunity for a single new system that can be much greater than the sum of its individual, disparate parts,” Siew explained.
“IP-based access control is particularly important for organizations that want to integrate security and BMS,” he stressed.
Integrating access control with BMS on a single network delivers better facility management. “Today's IP-based access control systems enable facility managers to bring intelligence to each door for streamlined system monitoring, management, and reporting via standard web browsers. Facility managers and venue operators not only have immediate visibility when doors are forced open, but also gain valuable key remote-management, report-generation, and auditing capabilities. Additionally, points of failure in the system are reduced when deploying edge devices, since each device controls a single door,” added Siew.
In addition, there is a preference towards system integration in a single user interface. A single interface allows for centralized control and management and helps put in place standard operating procedures, explained Ken Lee, Director of Operations at KZTech. Lee also highlighted the role of PSIM solutions, “With more PSIM solutions getting cheaper, building security managers are moving into integrated solutions rather than multiple standalone systems.”
While IP integration may be the key to a more efficient system, there are still challenges. “When people say that systems ‘integrate' it is critical to understand what this means,” said Sean Ahrens, Security Consulting Services Practice Leader at Aon Global Risk Consulting Security Practice. “Is it possible to control the other system? Or only get information? For example, the access control and the video might not be completely compatible to each other. Integration should be seamless both-ways, with bi-directional information.”
The use of data communication protocols such as BACnet (building automation and control networks) or XML for buildings and ONVIF or PSIA for cameras greatly increases the potential for integration and the potential for limiting the control of proprietary systems. However, currently there is no open standard widely applied. “The more information we bring using common protocols, the more systems we can integrate,” summarized Ahrens.
Need for Network Savvy Integrators
With the growing role of IP-based systems, the importance of installers who are extremely network and computer savvy and are able to diagnose communication faults and port issues are also growing. “The key in choosing an integrator is having a knowledgeable integrator supported by a robust manufacturer that has quality and awareness to the clients, good warranty, and service, knowledgeable about information technology/programming and fast, accurate support,” explained Ahrens. “Installers nowadays need to understand also the network transmission and distribution levels and not just cameras and should maintain constant touch with manufacturers.”
“As a company, we [Vanderbilt] partner with systems integrators to deploy our systems and we provide them with the training necessary to gain the knowledge needed to best integrate our technologies with other IP-enabled technologies,” said Kane. “We invest in providing strong support and training to our resellers because it is their responsibility to explain the benefits of linking technologies together when possible. There are many instances in which a building's security is managed by a facility manager and a tenant's security is managed by the tenant. This can lead to the installation of multiple systems. If a systems integrator can bring these multiple stakeholders to the table to have a conversation about the integration of systems beforehand, an investment will be much more valuable to all parties moving forward,” he added.
Ownership problems and knowledge gaps hinder integration
The integration of BMS and security seems natural. However, few facilities choose this integration. “We started integrating BMS and security systems about 10 years ago, but this integration opportunity is not so popular. We sell about 2,000 systems a year, but less than 1 percent are integrated with BMS,” said Ella.
The main issue hindering integration is not technological but external. In most environments the systems are owned by different stakeholders; the BMS are owned by the landlords, whereas the tenants own the security systems. In many cases the BMS is already installed in the building and tenants can't change it. In addition, knowledge gaps exist between building and security systems professionals since each system has a different focus.
“End customers themselves are facing a dilemma regarding the integration of the systems and are looking for a system that can bring services together,” added Huang. “For example, installing anti-smoking detection sensors in ‘no-smoking' areas like hospitals, who should be in charge? The facility manager or the security manager?” As the industry is trying to find a balance between the two systems, Huang believes that there will be more integration in the future.
New regulation promotes Integration
The integration of BMS and security systems is easier to plan in advance when designing a new building. For existing buildings, the willingness to change systems is very low. A new environ-mental regulation is changing things in Singapore. The new regulation stipulates that all new and existing buildings needing extension or major retrofitting work, with an area of 2,000 square meters and above, must comply with the Environmental Sustainability regulation as stipulated in the Building Control Act. “As a result, this regulation became the drive for building owners to upgrade to BMS that can comply with the regulation and monitor and reduce their energy consumption. Along with the upgrade they also look for integration opportunities with other systems,” said Huang.
Similar initiatives around the world might prompt similar integrations in other places.
Industry players are noting many other trends, in addition to integration, when it comes to BMS. “There is significant interest in mobile applications. Users of all sizes, whether it is an enterprise customer or a small-to-medium-sized business, want to be able to manage their security infrastructure from anywhere in the world. As the industry and technology continues to advance, mobile applications and functionality will become highly adopted,” said Kane.
Siew also expressed a similar view, “the introduction and accelerating adoption of mobile access solutions is one of the most important industry developments of the past few years. We anticipate there will be growing demand for mobile devices that provide a better way to open doors.”
Lim also sees a change in business models: “The industry already sold a lot of integrated systems in the last decade. The growing trend is towards a managed service model where customers do not just purchase hardware but requires integrated 24/7 management services to run and support these systems. There is also an emerging trend of customers procuring systems as services.” Purchasing a service gives clients the option to change providers as their needs change. The industry is moving towards greater integration of systems and sensors. New environmental regulations, the Internet of Things, and different programs for smart building management are all drivers that will increase integration opportunities in the future. Additionally, as the number of sensors that are internet-ready increases, so will the role of cloud applications that will manage these sensors for different platforms. Hopefully as integration becomes easier from a technology point of view it will also help to mitigate the problems associated with system ownership and increase the benefits for both building owners and tenants.