When you’re preparing an initial security design for a client, how often do you have information on their integration requirements. Unfortunately, integration requirements often aren’t clear until the system is commissioned. Which means that, if the system you design don’t support open data interchange standards, your client could soon be looking at additional costs. And your designs may not be future-proof for at least a decade, which most systems need to be.

In today’s market, security system vendors are forced to deliver increasingly complicated devices and software. Users frequently want security systems to integrate not just with building systems, but also their internal systems. Integration with lift systems and time and attendance systems is fast becoming a standard. And integration with HR (human resources) systems can really aid automation.

System integration can be used for:

  • Process automation.
  • Safer and more efficient people flow.
  • Intelligent office development.

Process automation

Staff managing access control systems are often heavily burdened with repetitive tasks, such as changing access rights, blocking or unblocking users, registering guests or issuing replacement access cards. Automating such tasks can greatly reduce their administrative workload. One way to automate these processes is to connect your access control and HR systems.

With integration, new employees can be automatically added to the access control system, and staff who have left the organisation can be automatically blocked. By relating employee departments to the relevant access control rights, staff can be automatically granted the privileges they need to move around the building.

Safer and more efficient staff movement

Ensuring effective people flow inside a building can be a real challenge for those managing it. Especially during peak hours such as the start of work, lunchtime and the end of work, and in bottleneck locations such as entry gates and lift lobbies.

That’s why integration between access control and lift control systems is extremely important. It must support building security management while allowing fast and effective movement of people between the various zones and floors of a building. When the two systems are integrated, the lift system can be notified of the floor the employee is likely to want to go to as soon as they can scan their access card at the entry gate.

Intelligent office development

Businesses looking to rent office space are increasingly demanding buildings with modern systems that maximise convenience. When access control and building management systems are integrated more can be automated. Lights can turn on automatically when someone enters a room; room temperature can be set depending on the person; and lights can turn off automatically when everyone leaves a zone in a building.

Integration can also help with developing building management applications that offer functionality far beyond these simple examples.

To meet the expectations for integrations, vendors of access control and intruder detection systems provide interfaces that allow their products to interact with the environment. These include integrations using:

  • Inputs/outputs
  • Vendor-supplied tools
  • ODBC
  • Web services

Integration using inputs and outputs

This method has been used since the very first security equipment appeared. Mostly in simple installations where integration is limited to defined dependencies between system statuses. It’s also found in simple integrations of access control and lift systems. In more complex installations, using this method is not only difficult but often impossible.

Integration using ODBC

To help customers with integrations, vendors of electronic security system  may provide direct access to the system database via an open API, such as ODBC (Open Database Connectivity).

ODBC allows customers to retrieve any data they need from the access control or intruder detection system by reading directly from the database. To ensure data security, the system should allow customers to select a dedicated database user who only has access to the relevant data.

While this interface allows easy data retrieval, issues arise when third-party applications need to add or update system data. This requires detailed knowledge of the database structure, including relationships between tables and table fields.  Performing database modifications without this information is extremely difficult and can result in database damage  to the database or loss of consistency. Despite these limitations, ODBC is the most powerful method of retrieving data for reporting, statistics, or feeding into third-party databases.

Integration using web services

Web services are one of the most convenient ways to access data in computer systems, which data transmitted between systems over HTTP or HTTPS in XML-based data formats. This interface is also the most secure in terms of database consistency, as third-party systems may only perform the precisely defined operations they have access to. In effect, the interface acts as an intermediary to database access. This greatly simplifies integration, as you don’t need to know the database structure to integrate with a system.

Third-party software can also update database content — for example for the access control system — much more easily than via ODBC. Vendors of access control and intruder detection systems use open standards, including SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and RESTful APIs, to allow simple and effective data interchange.

By selecting security systems that allow your designs to support integration using open protocols, you can ensure your clients’ peace of mind.

Do you have any questions or want more information about integrating security systems and building systems? We’d love to hear from you at info@nedapsecurity.com

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