Here’s how systems integrators can enhance their value for end customers by tying building automation systems to security.
Business leaders’ and organizations’ interaction with digital technology is growing exponentially. Its adoption and integration will continue to climb in the security industry and rapidly evolve around solutions that were impossible to comprehend just a few short years ago.
With that being said, there are many issues and challenges that arise when integrating this technology, and perhaps no better illustration than the convergence of building automation systems (BAS) and physical security systems.
The core functionalities of BAS are to keep the indoor climate within a specific range; address lighting needs based on a schedule or occupancy; adjust monitoring when devices within the system are malfunctioning; and, provide customized alarm reporting.
Controlling mechanical, electrical, energy management, climate control and plumbing from one dashboard or platform has led to breakthrough technology while delivering the promise of convenience and customization.
Here’s a typical scenario: It’s 6 a.m. on Monday morning and the building’s automated scheduling activates the HVAC system, turns on lighting in specific areas, runs several systems checks to ensure comfort during business hours.
Then, at 6 p.m., the BAS programming ensures the building runs efficiently during nontraditional hours. At any given time, the various systems can be audited and addressed via the BAS dashboard. The ITdepartment and budget has slowly absorbed this aspect.
Building a Bundle to Manage Convenience, Raise ROI
The physical security space has had its own version of convergence for many years. Here’s a typical security system scenario: It’s 7 a.m. and the building front doors automatically unlock; the intrusion system is automatically set to a “disarmed “state; the video surveillance continues to run, providing recorded events upon specific alerts, while the fire alarm system continues to monitor the entire building in the background.
At 7 p.m., the building perimeter locks down, the intrusion system sets to an “armed” state, and the surveillance system becomes more active using video analytics and perimeter detection.
The internal facilities department, the security department, and the security integrator have all been key in addressing this convergence. These days security integrators are successfully tying together BAS and physical security systems in project applications.
No longer is there a “wait and see” mentality with respect to these two worlds meeting. Efficient operation of building systems, reduction in energy consumption, lower operating costs, and improved lifecycle of utilities are now being written into project specifications.
A few proactive measures will help address some common integration missteps.
Understand budget impacts
There are new and unique costs when deploying physical devices that enable this solution, as well as cost savings from integrating the various disparate entities.
Total systems convergence is easiest when designed into new construction projects. ROI from properly installed IoT sensors, switches, and rule-based analytics can occur in as little as six months.
Additional benefits related to fewer service tickets and truck rolls, sustainability, and environmental stewardship can also be realized, with detailed data to support them.
A second factor for a successful deployment is end-to-end ownership from a usability perspective, as well as yearly budget ownership. This solution is never “complete” once it is installed; in fact ROI is enhanced with each integration.
The largest challenge in deploying integrated security and BAS is understanding the various existing and/or modern technologies. Transitioning to newer technology is never easy, but today’s solutions are well tested and can significantly simplify the adoption process.
Looking for those that are “open source” in nature help interoperability. Open standards have enabled end-user convenience, efficiencies in services, lower utility costs, employee adoption and greater scalability.
In the building automation industry, the two major standard protocols — BACnet and LONWorks — allow for real-time, remote interface between systems and controls.
The security industry is notably slow to adopt open architecture, but most leading security equipment manufacturers are developing or have on their short-term roadmap an open architecture design.
With innovative technology and new system implementations, many are resistant to change. A good example is the IT director may not be aware of the functionality of the security system and will have legitimate concerns about placing specific data or processes on the network.
When there is a critical failure on the HVAC system, it may not be fully understood how that failure affects the security system. Creating a systematic and step-by-step approach to implementation and how each system works as a standalone unit will enable greater knowledge across the organization.
With all its benefits, it’s easy to see why building automation is the way of the future. And, it can be customized to meet clients’ specific needs, allowing efficient running of a business and property.
Building owners, facility managers, security directors and IT professionals see the value of converging potentially dozens of systems onto one network with a single control point. Security integrators and their customers both stand to capitalize.