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The integral role of security in smart buildings

The integral role of security in smart buildings
Keeping buildings safe is a priority for any building operator. As such, deploying a security system is quite obvious when it comes to commercial buildings; however, security and safety systems also play an instrumental role in the “smartness” of a smart building.
Smart buildings are made up of a vast number of systems, but no building can be smart without the proper safety and security measures in place. Smart building providers stress the importance of integrating fire, security, intrusion and access control systems, as they are key components of a smart, connected building.

Enhancing Security Measures

MarketsandMarkets named an increased need for better security and safety systems as a main driver for the global smart buildings market.

“A safe, secure environment is a comfortable, productive environment,” said Joe Oliveri, VP and GM of Security for Building Technologies and Solutions in North America at Johnson Controls. “With integrated, comprehensive security and fire and life safety system oversight in place, facility managers are better equipped to minimize disruption and focus on creating what matters most: a safe, secure environment, maximum efficiency and uptime, and a healthy bottom line.”

He added, “As smart technologies evolve, so too do security solutions to better protect and maintain physical building systems and improve occupant experiences. The best security systems are integrated with other building systems to deliver value greater than the sum of the individual parts. When your life-safety system works in cooperation with other building systems, you minimize risk and maximize building efficiency and productivity.”

In terms of security systems and what is necessary, Aseem Joshi, Country GM of India at Honeywell Building Solutions pointed to an integrated system of fire, access control and intrusion detection; HD video surveillance and analytics; and secure credentials as some of key security features to focus on. Additionally compliance management with rule-based access control and the ability to generate customized audit and transaction reports, along with cybersecure communications that encrypt and secure data storage and transmission were also named.

Additionally, the digitization of buildings, according to Luis Suau, Technical Leader of Kinetic Industrial Products at Cisco Systems, is slowly impacting all building systems; although at this time the life safety system (e.g., fire alarm) is still a closed loop system from a building code perspective. “Fire alarms systems do have interfaces that allow other systems to receive notification of alarms. The roles of the digital building technology today include: providing secondary mass notification in reaction to an alarm in order to facilitate the safe exit from a building; facilitating the safe exit of building occupants; assisting in the identification false alarms through sensor correlation; and identifying occupied spaces (and count occupants) during building emergencies in order to assist first responders.”

Security Integration: Hurdles and Benefits

Integrating diverse business systems is paramount to achieving a smarter, more optimized and energy efficient building. This, however, is not always easy.

Many are finding it a challenge to create a smart, efficient, connected environment when following the traditional building and technology integration approach, according to Jim Nannini, VP of Building Wide Systems Integration for Building Technologies and Solutions in North America at Johnson Controls. “By involving key stakeholders early in the process, buildings can be conceived, designed and delivered with the end in mind. They cannot simply be a collection of systems, but integrated as a functional whole.”

“The benefits of implementing facility-wide systems integration include: optimization of systems, software and network infrastructure; the ability to stretch technology budget; attract and retain employees, tenants, students and fans; improved communications; increased productivity and workflow; a futureready infrastructure and flexibility as spaces change, and the ability to grow as technology advances and communications needs evolve,” Nannini explained.

It is important to note that integration after systems have been installed and construction is completed ends up being more costly, difficult and time consuming. That is why Nannini recommends technology systems and integrations be coordinated so that the systems are smart and sustainable today while also supporting future innovations.

In regard to integration of specific systems, Oliveri pointed to the importance integration with access control. “Access control has historically been a key components of a building’s security system. Today, the role of access control is of increased importance and can be integrated with other systems to provide a holistic view of building operations with more intelligent analysis and decision making,” he said.

As an example, Oliveri described how access control can be integrated with fundamental building systems, such as heating and cooling, for increased efficiency. “When these systems function as one, heating and cooling sensors can use the data aggregated by access control systems to better automate temperature controls based on the number of people in a particular room or area. Another example is lighting — lighting can be integrated and managed with access control, by turning lights on and off as people enter and leave rooms and, in more sophisticated applications, by dimming or changing lighting colors based on individual preferences and settings.”

Integration of fire safety systems is also essential, according to Oliveri, to minimize the risk of false alarms. “By integrating fire and security, buildings are able to take a much more holistic approach to command and control. For example, when an operator is notified that a smoke detector has been activated, using a wider range of resources (e.g., video surveillance, temperature control), the situation can be evaluated and managed, and provide answers to vital questions such as: Is it a false alarm? Is there a need to deploy the fire service? What is the risk to building occupants? Is mass notification necessary to provide instructions to safety?”

Safer Buildings Make Smarter Buildings

According to Honeywell, people spend 80 to 90 percent of their lives inside buildings. As a result, it is imperative that buildings account for the safety of the people, vehicles and material inside them. This can be achieved with smarter, more productive buildings.

Since, as a place of work/residence/entertainment, a building primarily exists to service its occupants, this means ensuring buildings are secure, monitor against intruders, provide safety measures, provide distaster response measures, and account for the health and safety of workers/occupants, said Joshi. Productive, smart buildings do this in the most efficient way possible and provide measures to ensure that their occupants can carry on with their personal and professional tasks in the most convenient, comfortable way possible.


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