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Watching You, Watching Me! SPONSORED ARTICLE

12 April 2011

COAL Services solutions based services are all encompassing. Laurence Burton looks at how COAL’s technology expertise in-house can benefit FMs making decisions about their organisation’s security needs.

SYSTEMS ARE PREDOMINANTLY GRUDGE BUYS; let’s be honest who wants to have to spend money to prevent theft and damage to our property? Most security procurement is often a knee jerk reaction to an event and the old adage of stable doors and horses spring to mind. But it happens and these systems are an integral part of our lives, are in continual use and all around us.
The technology has evolved over the years with many evolutions along the way from relays, switches and solid state devices to modern microprocessor and PCB design. Modern intruder alarm systems have event logs to record their use. Modern dual technology movement detectors have drastically reduced false alarms. Gone are the days of a spider happily walking across an infrared detector inducing a false alarm and the need for a call out
to reset the system at 3.00 in the morning. Old tape diallers that just called 999 are collectors’ items with secure phone lines now monitored with Redcare or GSM options.
Twenty years ago CCTV cameras were bulky cumbersome, of a low quality and expensive. The CCD revolution and high speed dome cameras have superseded these. Modern cameras now have in built Infra red lighting and the chip technology will see with tiny amounts of light. Many modern cameras are now working in high definition to give high quality images.
The cost has plummeted too with budget cameras costing less than £100.00. We now live in society where you may well be recorded 300 times a day, big brother stuff.
The recording of CCTV has also been revolutionised. The old VCR recording in timelapse mode to achieve 24 hours of recording on a three hour tape took its first real step forward with the multiplexer. You could record 16 cameras on to a single tape. It was then a case of ensuring you had enough tapes to record on to. Unfortunately most never changed their tapes and after two years with the same tape continually used wondered why they had no images of the incident that just happened.
Digital video recorders (DVR) have evolved. These storage costs have tumbled and basic units have vast capacity to record at higher rates and better quality. Current basic systems can record 8 cameras for thirty days and only cost 25 percent of an equivalent system recording to tape 10 years ago.
Access control systems have really only been around for the last 30 years and have likewise evolved. Early stand alone systems with keypads and code numbers to gain entry, moved to barcode card technology, then wiegand with embedded magnets in the card, then proximity and hands free RF system using various forms of frequency division technology. Passive cards, active card, tags of all shapes and sizes are carried by us all to get round our places of work.
The current trend is to now move to smart card technology, multipurpose cards that can be utilised across a corporation, more of that to come. The software is now the driving force.
Gone are the days when only the companies in the upper echelons can afford Unix and VAX based micro systems. Most simple systems will happily sit on a modern desktop PC on someone’s desk happily lurking in the background behind Outlook until needed. Larger systems now have a head end server residing in the sheltered environment of a comms room with client PC’s used to access the database and monitor.
We are now at the next stage of the process, IP and integration is the buzz word. As the systems have evolved and become more advanced, they are now set up with laptops, monitored by PC’s and are often sitting on a PC type chassis with an embedded operating system. The network and IP addressing is the way forward.
Already large corporations have multiple sites sitting over their WAN to central locations to control the access control database and monitor and record CCTV images. Control rooms in Slough can monitor and watch who is going through a door in Milan.
Modern retail outlets now have a central IT resources and the CCTV can be piggybacked over this for offsite storage and monitoring at head office. You can see how busy your shop floor is how long the queues are at the tills without being on site. This is now something any small retail outlet or business can do. The DVR sits on the network IP ready, install the software, configure and you have become big brother of your own empire!
The latest access control software is IP ready and the panels just plug in to the network that exists. There are single door controllers, twin door controllers and multi door controllers.
Existing controllers can often be migrated over to IP controllers and this is becoming a prerequisite for many new versions of software. The technology with most access control providers is moving forward rapidly to adopt the IP culture and old systems may well get left behind.
The smart card is now the high security key for the door. The readers and card interrogate each other before even asking the software to open the door. When all these parameters are met you can go in, all within a second. Proximity is now the generally accepted standard but other technologies mainly different types biometrics are catching up, hand, iris and fingerprint recognition are all improving, in use and getting cheaper! Not only will smart cards open doors they can be linked to photocopier and printing services, be used to log on to computers.
Many modern intruder alarm systems can now integrate with these systems and the Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC) can access the site to verify the condition on site with CCTV before alerting the Police. Specific cards can set and unset the intruder alarm through the access control system. Other forms of alarm can also be controlled and monitored. Access control systems can cope with high amounts of inputs and outputs. These all report back to your central control, be it BMS system problems, fire alarm activation, intruder alarm activation it can all come back to a central controlled point for due administration.
These systems are integrating further with other packages like time and attendance and cashless vending. Your access card can monitor your time on and off site, this can be related to the HR and payroll department and the data supplied will help reduce your payroll costs. It could monitor your staff patterns to ensure that you always have enough first aiders on site for the number of staff at work.
RFID (Radio frequency identification) is another technology that has been lurking about for years but never really achieved any real potential but is still being developed. Core assets are fitted with smart ID tags that can be read from a long range. Couple this with the access control and if Fred Karno tries to exit the building with his access card but is carrying Joe Bloggs’ iPad then alarm bells would ring.
Software is now available for CCTV systems to monitor behaviour. This software is intelligent and actually learns. Complex algorithms monitor the movement of people allowing for less CCTV operators to monitor high traffic areas. The software highlights these suspicions and allows CCTV operators to assess what is likely to happen.
There is a vast array of packages that can all work together and it is imperative that once you have a system in place it is suitably maintained and upgraded, you can then continue to evolve and upgrade or add specific requirements.
Security systems are a grudge buy and once fitted often get neglected for many years. Security systems are evolving and must be invested in over time, this ensures you will always be close to the current platform and then, when required the system will perform.
By continual upgrading security systems they will reduce your management costs, you will need less guards to monitor systems, less control rooms, by integration less administration, maybe employ fewer staff and they will use less power as the technology improves. This could help your CRC but what these systems do primarily is work night and day monitoring....watching, they are in the background we know they are there but most take very little notice of them, they are grey systems.
? For further details and a free review of you current solution and future needs contact
Jason Maclaine General Manager Email:
Tel: 01708 559799 or email:

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