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Chartered Security Professional (CSyP) and certified technical security professional (CTSP)

Author Bio ▼

Peter is an expert in the physical security industry having spent 35 years gaining considerable knowledge and understanding of security technology and the principles and practices of protecting people and assets, along with the ethics necessary for leading a respected company. Over 20 years as MD of multi-award-winning security system integrator 2020 Vision Systems, the company achieved a high standard of recognition and the patronage of many respected organizations. Through his dedication and leadership, 2020 obtained industry approval with the SSAIB and Quality, Environmental, and Health and Safety accreditations.Peter is a member of the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB), a UKAS accredited Certification Body, and its representative on the British Standards Institute (BSI) technical committee responsible for drafting European CCTV Standards. He is also a member of the Security Institute and Security Leaders Technology forum and the author of a number of published security articles.
October 19, 2015


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The Pros and Cons of Integrating Your Security system Onto a Common IP Network

convergence ipThe growth in IP security and surveillance and the continuing convergence with IT provides a powerful platform for transforming the security industry.

New opportunities and threats are being introduced to the security world as systems migrate from traditional analogue to IP network-enabled systems, particularly in video surveillance.

It is true to say the rise in network video cameras has raised user expectations and changed the way systems are conceived, implemented and managed. They have become more of an operational tool aligned with business objectives than simple security devices.

Internet Protocol (IP) provides an open platform for integration at the data level of multiple security and life safety devices and applications.

Information systems, intruder and fire alarms, perimeter detection, access control, analytics, intercom, sensors, BMS, voice/data, staff safety and other emerging technologies and then manages interactions between devices/systems through ‘cause and effect’ responses or ‘what if?’ scenarios. All communications are done via and residing on a common IT network.

Our integration

For example, my organisation’s building is protected by a network video system.

A combination of static cameras and PTZ domes cover the front and rear elevation and car park. The PTZ cameras use video analytics, backed up with external PIR detectors to detect movement and trigger pre-set views.

These are supplemented with internal static HD cameras monitoring the entrance and exit and key internal areas. The network video system integrates to an external PA system along with the intruder system and ID management and access control system,, all residing on our corporate IT network.

Systems communicate at data level, with the system information and alarms viewable remotely via an alarm receiving centre and the mobile devices of key employees. Due to current standards and infrastructure restrictions, we chose not to integrate the fire alarm system onto the network.

IP integration advantages

Integrating the systems onto a common network using IP protocol provides a host of  advantages.

Lower cost of ownership. Harnessing the IT infrastructure reduces installation costs in cabling, associated containment and fewer mains power outlets, with most devices utilising Power over the Ethernet (PoE). This also facilitates stand by power should the mains power fail.

The intruder alarm is a facility of the access control system, completely negating the necessity for separate intruder alarms in the various areas, providing further savings on hardware.

Liaison with our IT department reduced commissioning time as all staff records are imported from the access control database, with the access smart cards doubling as photo ID for staff. The use of common user management interface reduced operator training time.

Using the IT network provides flexibility and scalability. Many security products can be added and networked from virtually any location meaning the system can grow and be easily adapted in line with a user’s needs without expensive additional cabling or costly changes to the network.

The systems, particularly network video systems, can be as open or closed as necessary, making remote site monitoring and remote access easily and cost-effectively achievable.

The system can be configured to allow multiple authorised users to view live and recorded video at any time from virtually any networked location in the world. Video images, for example, can be streamed over the network to a remote monitoring station, a manager’s PC or laptop or a security officer’s handheld terminal or mobile device.

Higher security and resilience, coupled with improved user management. The network provides a robust fully managed and monitored infrastructure, which is rated five-nines resilient, and the applicable logical security measures exist to protect both the integrity of the physical security systems and the IT infrastructure. Conversely, the physical security measures protect the IT infrastructure.

The tight software integration between systems makes them more intelligent and reduces security gaps, speeds up response times and maximises operator efficiency by drawing attention to exceptions to the norm, sending SMS messages to alert staff.

Using the IT network as the transmission route for the security and video data increases network traffic, and makes that information more easily available to other relevant users.

The use of a network IP dependant system allows for maintenance provision based on a more managed and efficient strategy. Rather than programming routine maintenance visits to each part of the system and repeatedly carrying out the same tasks every six or three months, the service is provided by employing intelligent network management to alert service teams when a failure of equipment has occurred.

With automated notification from the control room operator via the control system to alert the service teams when a technical issue arises. Remote connectivity, via a secure link, enables service teams to review and assess system performance from their operating base.

Better environmental credentials from maximising the resource of a common infrastructure, PoE, and managed maintenance regime.

The culmination of the benefits of network video coupled with the convergence of information technologies has expanded the scope of video surveillance beyond security into its application-driven operational use as a management tool to assist in Health and Safety, productivity, personnel management and marketing. It is about providing an organisation with real-time visual intelligence or post-incident analysis from which informed decisions can then be made.

Finally, IP-based video systems have produced great improvements in video image quality, recording storage and review facilities. You certainly get a lot more features in the camera than was previously possible, everything from video analytics applications such as ANPR, face recognition, people counting and intelligent video motion detection to software vastly improving camera performance in adverse conditions like electronic image stabilisation.

IP disadvantages

Unfortunately, where there are advantages, the opposite is generally true and four potential disadvantages spring to mind.

The first – and arguably most important – revolves around network security and the hacker threat. While the system or app might have a high level of encryption, the protocol might be very secure but if basic network security is mismanaged then hackers are being allowed in the front door of the network undetected, giving them time to look around and see what is interesting to access.

Equally, if the security company do not understand the dangers posed by unsecured IP-enabled devices, and that IP cameras and access control panels are potential gateways for hackers to exploit.

Moreover, the risk increases if you access your camera from a phone or mobile device.

Make sure your security provider puts security features as a top priority and enables them. To do otherwise could leave you vulnerable to network hacker attacks, causing loss of data and intellectual property, open to legal action through negligence in securing video images, and could aid criminals to identify security vulnerabilities.

My advice is arm yourself with the right questions to ask your security provider by consulting an expert or by visiting one of the numerous online sites providing tips for protecting your IP-based security system such as the US Federal Government website.

The second is resistance from IT professionals to the incorporation of physical security systems onto their network and the network traffic priority.

In a university, for example the priority use is for student education not physical security. Equally, many IT networks are not supported 24/7 a must in the security world.

The final disadvantage is the threat to the security industry and thus security, from the IT sector. Many IT companies are realising the opportunities in security, particularly video surveillance, as the rise in network video cameras has changed the way systems are conceived, implemented and managed, becoming more of an operational tool aligned with the business objectives.

Seeking to take advantage of an industry reported by HIS to be worth $28bn globally by 2018 many IT firms are becoming involved in the design, procurement and installation of security systems. They often view this diversification as a simple extension of edge devices onto the network, but many fail to understand basic security concepts, other than logical security.

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May 27, 2016 8:58 am

Good article. Even though the security systems has some disadvantages, it is necessary to make us safer.


Arran Smith
Arran Smith
April 21, 2017 3:51 am

Hello There, Thanks for your excellent blog on security devices integration in common IP Network. I was struggling to monitor same IT network by using software. We are using nano software. However, it is charging lot . do you guys recommend any good software to monitor alarm system in same IT network.
Arran Smith

Kylie Dotts
Kylie Dotts
September 21, 2017 4:01 pm

Having information that is made more easily available would be really important to a network camera system. Allowing more than a single person to see what is happening as far as security goes would probably help things be more secure. That way you can have more than a single individual who can respond to a potential crisis.