The Benefits of Unified Physical Security Systems

Advances in IP technology have greatly improved physical security solutions over recent years. While the industry has worked to develop a variety of methods to bring the different components of modern security environments like video, access control, automatic license plate recognition, communications, intrusion and analytics together via integration, the result often remains a set of disparate systems with limited communication and interoperability among them.

Unification is the superior method of achieving seamless, comprehensive physical security. True unification takes stand-alone components of a security environment as well as plug-ins beyond just being connected. A unified system provides one platform, built from the ground up, to work harmoniously together. A unified physical security solution maximizes usage of the infrastructure, makes upgrades seamless, and presents unified threat level management. Plus, training is simplified as there is just one system and one interface to learn. Support and maintenance are also more efficient, with one point of contact to find the root cause of issues and ensure compatibility between versions.

In this article, we emphasize the benefits of unified physical security systems and why they are better than integrated solutions.

Unified Security Solutions Are More Efficient, Flexible and Offer Much More Than Security 

Physical security is – or should be – at the core of any business operation. In order to focus on production, sales, and ultimately success, organizations have to provide a safe and secure environment for employees and visitors. Video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, communications, license plate recognition and analytics are all key components of a modern security solution. When they work together properly in a unified way, they can not only secure a business, but yield actionable business intelligence that can be leveraged and combined with operational data to help improve efficiency. When selecting a security product to protect a business, you are not only investing in a system that works now, but a solution that will be able to change with the needs of your business moving forward.

Your Physical Security Solution Should Be Unified and Not Just Integrated

While the security industry (like the rest of the software industry) has worked to develop a variety of methods to bring separate physical security solutions together via integration, the result remains a set of disparate systems with limited communication and interoperability among them. Integrating separate security functions like access control and video surveillance using software development kits (SDK) or application programming interface (API) only is limited and can be a costly approach.

Unification, however, takes stand-alone components of a security solution beyond just being loosely or superficially connected via an SDK or API. A unified physical security platform is a comprehensive software solution that manages the different components of a security environment through a centralized open-architecture built to provide complete access to all data. A unified platform goes above and beyond tagging or bookmarking videos when an access control event occurs, or offering the capability to unlock an access-controlled door from within the video surveillance user interface. It's a platform that combines information from all available sensors to provide greater awareness to operators. This not only means showing video feeds when alerts are triggered by the access control system, but also being able to see data from all related sensors in a single click, from anywhere in the system.

A unified solution is developed from square one to not only work together, but to purposefully intertwine functionality to offer a powerful user experience that includes built-in reporting and alarm management functionalities. With unification, it’s possible to configure and manage video cameras, access-controlled doors, print badges, monitor intrusion panels and have everything at the security person’s disposal to ensure a high level of functionality from within a single software platform.

For example, Security Center, manufactured by Genetec Inc., offers the only unified platform built from the ground up and coded together for seamless interaction and workflow right out of the box. With a unified solution like Security Center, employees only have to get to know and use one system. Administrators save time configuring the system and only have one manufacturer to contact – Genetec – with any questions or issues. Cybersecurity can be a problem when relying on a variety of vendors and platforms in an integrated system. But in a unified solution like Security Center, cybersecurity is applied – and updated – across all physical security components. Upgrades, which can wreak havoc and make disparate integrated systems incompatible, also apply to the entire solution, resulting in a seamless upgrade experience for administrators and end users.

It’s also important to note that a unified system is by nature highly flexible and can be expanded to meet customers’ changing needs. It is not an all or nothing solution as the platform allows them to start with just the VMS functions for instance, and enables them to add access control, ALPR, analytics and third-party applications etc. as their business requirements evolve.

Unification is About Much More Than Just Security

Advances in analytics and add-ons can also be more quickly and easily incorporated into unified security platforms, yielding strategic and actionable business intelligence that can be used to improve operations and increase ROI.

For example, a unified solution in an airport can feed comprehensive security data into associated analytics software that can present a better understanding of terminal usage and density, as well as traveler and visitor flow, allowing management to take action and eliminate unnecessary waiting times. Retail customer intelligence gathered by a unified system can engage in visitor counting, conversion rates, queue management, heat maps, directional analysis and face capture. This type of information can provide retailers with intelligence that allows them to better understand consumers, make real-time informed decisions and increase both consumer engagement and in-store profitability.

In Conclusion

Unification brings together all security system components seamlessly in a single software platform with one user interface in a way that can vastly improve physical security management. Additionally, unification can open up a new world of collecting and using actionable business intelligence that can greatly enhance business operations.

End users are demanding simplicity and greater functionality. Offer them both with a unified security solution. 

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