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June 18, 2021

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Case study

Harris County improves security via integrated and connected solution across region’s 150 buildings

IFSEC Global gets the lowdown on how Harris County, the third most populous county in the United States, has reduced false alarms and improved its security system via an integrated solution of access control, alarms and monitoring across the county’s nearly 150 buildings situated over 1,777 miles in Houston and the surrounding areas.

The new security system is designed to make the county’s buildings more efficient and easier to operate, replacing multiple, disparate systems that previously didn’t talk to one another. Texas-based security integrator, ESI Fire and Security Protection, worked with Harris County to identify its needs and implement a streamlined security platform using Honeywell’s Pro-Watch Intelligent Command security management system to network video recorders, video cameras, thermal readers and thermal cameras. The new system is said to provide detailed, real-time information about alarm events, access and safety across the county.

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“The security and wellbeing of the Harris County employees, visitors and residents is always a top priority,” said retired Maj. Gen. Rick Noriega, Interim Executive Director, Harris County Universal Services. “This project allowed us to improve our systems and gain better insights into the county’s buildings to provide a safer environment. The solutions provided by Honeywell and ESI also better set the county up for the future – we can test and actively add technologies to address new needs with this flexible but scalable system.”

Immediate benefits for the county are said to include:

  • Saving taxpayer dollars through better analytics that reduce false alarms and help first responders
  • Monitoring from a single central control station for improved situational awareness
  • Creating healthier building environments by leveraging people-counting technologies and analytics to manage health and safety compliance, such as social distancing
  • Streamlining systems to create operational efficiencies and save the county resources that can be redirected to other critical infrastructure or services.

Harris County Universal Services is looking into deploying biometrics solutions from IDEMIA to enhance access control at the courthouse. Using facial recognition, a camera mounted on the entrance turnstiles will recognise employees and frequent visitors, such as judges and lawyers, using data stored in the ProWatch system without the need to physically scan a badge or remove facial coverings. This frictionless access system will allow employees and visitors to enter the building in an efficient and secure manner, it is believed.

This system can also alert a precinct when a public park is reaching capacity and monitor building occupancy levels to comply with local health regulations. Harris County is actively testing and implementing new features that will add additional capabilities countywide. The upgrades are designed to proactively manage situations and respond faster when required.

“Harris County lacked a holistic, real-time view into its various facilities with its previous systems,” said James Humbert, Business Development Manager, ESI. “We’ve partnered with the county and Honeywell to create positive change in just about every way the county operates by improving intelligence and transparency, reducing response times and helping to save taxpayers’ dollars. We look forward to continuing to work with Harris County and Honeywell in creating an efficient and safe environment for residents and employees that is ready for the future.”

“Through a collaborative effort with the county and ESI teams, we created a more efficient and safer environment for people who work and visit Harris County public buildings,” said Rick Koscinski, General Manager, North America, Honeywell Commercial Security. “With a county as large as Harris County, it was no surprise that they had multiple, disconnected systems put in place over the years which limited efficiency and connectedness. Now the county has a fully customised solution that is built to evolve with its needs that will not only help increase safety and awareness but also create an improved building experience for its employees and building visitors.”

With a population of nearly five million people, Harris County employs more than 15,000 workers to support its residents with services including public safety, jails, law enforcement, courts, library services and licensing facilities.

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