BMS and security can get along

May 2016 Integrated Solutions

As the scope of building management systems (BMS) continues to expand beyond simply managing facilities, the line between security management and BMS becomes increasingly blurred. For example, Johnson Controls offers Metasys, which is a web-based integration platform capable of integrating multiple systems over numerous protocols.

The system incorporates many energy management algorithms capable of optimising any facility, and is scalable from simple one-controller needs to complex facilities covering several continents. Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Johnson Controls’ Neil Cameron where this trend is heading towards.

Cameron stresses that, while it is true that many of the features are similar, such as the ability to integrate, each system is designed around a different need. “Building management systems are found in almost every facility around the world, and therefore get a vast amount of R&D spend to fast track innovation. BMSs are used by facility owners to get real-time information about the facility and also to reduce energy consumption.”

Platforms such as physical security information management (PSIM), on the other hand, revolve around reporting critical events and are used to keep a consistent response to crisis situations and keep a business functioning and the employees safe. PSIMs are very expensive and therefore not readily deployed into standard non-critical facilities. There is still currently a need to incorporate both systems simultaneously if required. The PSIM mostly takes data from systems like BMS and use this to report on crisis situations.

The BMS industry is maturing as a result of end users demanding more from their systems, believes Cameron, with the primary drivers being lower energy costs and optimising air conditioning, lighting and water systems in a facility. Alarming, trending and scheduling also come standard with a BMS and are easily deployed.

When it comes to security systems and BMS, he believes integration of the two is a win-win situation, and they should continue to evolve separately while enhancing their ability to securely share non-sensitive data. “These systems can run together,” he says. “It is necessary to separate them, as it would not be recommended to have your air conditioning teams have access to security platforms. Likewise it is normal to not have security personnel trying to operate and optimise the air conditioning in a building. What is recommended is that these two systems share information, such as occupancy, so that AC units and lighting can be switched off when there are no people in a certain area.”

For more information contact Johnson Controls, +27 (0)11 921 7141,,

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