The importance of an integrated fire and security system in hotels

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EMEA Programmes Leader, Security and Fire, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies

February 13, 2018


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The hotel lobby is a busy place.

Huge numbers of people pass through every day, for example guests, visitors, staff, suppliers, and even conference attendees.

Understandably, it is quite challenging designing the right integrated building system in such a public space – where so many people come and go. A reliable and accurate system has to be in place that can protect against everyday risks, such as theft or damage, as well as emergencies. In addition, a flexible system is required to ensure effective protection. This should be kept in mind at all times.

One solution is integration. An integrated solution has the potential to combine intrusion detection, video surveillance, and access control. As the individual components are compatible, the system can be implemented modularly. Should the needs or requirements of the hotel change, for instance if a new wing is built, then the existing solution can be expanded at any time.

Access control and video surveillance

The best safety solutions are the ones that can detect potential dangers as soon as possible and provide dependable protection against them. With this in mind, it is critical that the safety solutions in hotels can offer protection against a range of issues, particularly any threat that puts the guests’ lives at risk, as well as burglary and theft.

How these systems come together depends on the environment. For hotels, an access control system denies unauthorised persons access to areas such as guest rooms and personnel areas.

This also applies to public areas that only guests should be able to access, for example a gym. The management team also needs to ensure that certain locations, like a spa, are only accessible during set hours. These areas are best protected and managed with a comprehensive access control system.

A video surveillance system is a better solution for publicly accessible areas, such as the lobby, the reception area, or the conference area. Advanced video analytics software systems are extremely useful to hotels as they can efficiently monitor publicly accessible, busy areas. Additionally, the system can automatically alert busy staff members when specific abnormal or suspicious behaviour is detected.

Analytics are  increasingly used to identify blacklisted people, using facial recognition software, as soon as they walk into the hotel

If hotels can evaluate a CCTV image in real-time, they can stop criminal activity from occurring on their grounds. Analytics are also being increasingly used to identify blacklisted people, using facial recognition software, as soon as they walk into the hotel.

The database of unwanted people can be limited to the hotel itself, but can also be networked to include other hotels in the chain and even other hotels in a local area to increase protection. Analytics does not have to be limited to security though.

The same analytics can be used to, for instance: identify VIPs as soon as they arrive, identify people with special needs as soon as they arrive and car park management, greatly improving the level of service that a hotel can provide to its key customers.

Protecting against fire

When protecting against fire, hotels need to comply with the requirements outlined in the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order (RRFSO). Under the RRFSO, the building owner or operator will most likely be the person responsible for ensuring that a risk assessment is carried out by a suitably trained expert and that measures are in place to ensure any occupants are safe.

Hotel owners must comply with regulations by keeping their fire alarm system properly maintained as well as meeting the demands that come with different rooms and environments. More dangerous areas, such as the hotel kitchen, may understandably call for further protection.

Similarly, a guest room with a particularly high ceiling may require a tailored installation. The safest way to achieve this is by choosing an independently accredited fire specialist to advise on the most suitable detection and evacuation technologies for specific areas whilst minimising the risk of nuisance alarms.

As was the case previously, integrated safety technology can assist in bringing these different elements together. A video surveillance and management system featuring access control permits security officers to manage the security and fire system for the entire building from a single point.

An integrated system with fire protection, burglar protection, video surveillance, and access control provides hotels with a range of different benefits.

The security demands of the hotel will often dictate to a certain extent the level to which fire protection and safety systems can be integrated. But in the event of an incident, an integrated system can seamlessly work together.

If an evacuation alarm is triggered, for instance, the doors can all be automatically opened with access control

If an evacuation alarm is triggered, for instance, the doors can all be automatically opened with access control. Security staff can also pull up the video feed to determine whether there is an emergency or not. In this example, integration between systems means reducing false activations and bringing about a faster response from site staff.

Video analytics is also highly useful in an emergency, as the data obtained through it can help security managers to quickly and properly allocate and deploy security resources. If there is smoke in the building, an analogue or digital security camera either captures an image or records video footage of the scene.

Proprietary software then processes this to confirm whether smoke from a potential fire is present. If the specialised algorithms spot a noticeable change in brightness, contrast, shape, motion or colour matching, then it is highly probable that this is the case. If required, the system can alert and draw a bounding box around the detected smoke cloud, and then transmit images to a central monitoring station. This allows security staff to visually verify an alert.

Why installers are key

When it comes to the development of a reliable security system for hotels, the value of specialist installers cannot be overlooked. Their experience in designing a system to meet a specific set of hotel needs in the most efficient way can be of huge value. If the system is tailored to combat the specific challenges posed by the hotel environment and can be expanded at any time, then guests and employees are afforded the greatest possible security.

Hotels must keep pace with the trends and patterns of the overall security industry. At this moment in time, one of the most notable developments is the rise in hotel guests’ expectations.

After all, they require a highly sophisticated security system in their own homes, and expect no less when staying in a hotel. Customers have been bowled over by technology’s capabilities today and thus demand more from their security systems. A qualified installer plays an important role in hotels, bringing an understanding of the building codes and the latest technologies to help keep guests and employees safe and secure.

With hotels around the world facing a range of unique threats, a robust security system is required. Integration permits hotels to combine intrusion detection, video surveillance, and access control. With an integrated security system, guests and employees can rest assured that they are adequately protected, whilst, at the same time, the hotel can use the same system to increase its level of service.

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