Integration not simple, but beneficial

April 2016 Editor's Choice, Integrated Solutions

Commercial environments are no longer looking for individual security solutions. Today they want a package that offers all the aspects of security they need. Part of the reason for this move is cost based – it’s supposedly cheaper and more convenient to get it all from one supplier. Another reason is the need for integrated solutions that talk to each other for easier management and improved security.

Well, that’s what we’re being told, but it seems that for every company looking at integration and expanding the scope of their security kit beyond simply raising an alarm or getting blurry images after the fact, there is another who follows the Twitter hashtag and simply #carryon as always.

In reality, however, there are benefits to integration and making better use of the data your security installations collect and many organisations are on track to exploit the new possibilities.

“We have found a definite upward trend towards the desire for integrated solutions. The end-users are becoming more educated with regards to integration and the benefits thereof,” says Gus Brecher, MD of Cathexis Africa.

Gus Brecher, Cathexis Africa.
Gus Brecher, Cathexis Africa.

“When one demonstrates how you can increase efficiency and effectiveness of a security solution control room environment by integration, it is easy to convince people of the benefits.

“The term integration includes the integration of old systems (where possible) and new systems. For example, we are busy with the University of the Western Cape project which includes integration with existing fire panels, alarm panels, DVRs and access control. All of these third-party devices being several years old.”

Bosch Security System’s Charles Coetzee also sees a move to integration, but notes it largely depends on the size and nature of the project and the legislative need. “For example, a company may purchase a stand-alone fire system instead of an integrated fire/voice evacuation system if the project is typically a warehouse environment rather than a hotel complex. Standalone systems are also more prevalent in projects requiring safety and security upgrades rather than a completely new installation. For the most part, new construction projects often require fully integrated safety and security systems.”

Charles Coetzee, Bosch Security Systems.
Charles Coetzee, Bosch Security Systems.

Coetzee also notes that due to rapidly changing technology and products, it can sometimes be difficult and expensive to integrate legacy multi-brand systems. “The market has come to understand this and therefore tenders for new installations often require fully integrated systems,with sufficient scalability to cater for new products and technologies.”

Standards, open or otherwise?

Depending on which article one may be reading at the time, integration may be a leading poster child for the adoption of open standards. If we believe the hype, any system developed on open standards will be able to integrate with other systems built on the same standards. Unfortunately, Brecher explains that there is no real ‘open’ standard right now that does the job completely.

However, Coetzee says that ultimately the customer is looking for a solution, not one that only works for now, but is certain to continue working in the future with new advances in products and technologies. “Open standards play a role in this as well as backward compatibility between systems.

“Most systems today are either an open source system or have a certain degree of integration capabilities, for example, LON Works, BACNet, MODBUS, OPC, ONVIF etc. These are predominantly the standard communication protocols for systems to be integrated with one another.”

A platform approach

When it comes to getting different applications to play together, an option is to make use of one of the management platforms available that claim to be able to integrate almost anything. However, as many people have found, just as the claim to integration and openness isn’t always on the level, a management platform’s ability to integrate almost anything can also be limited.

Many of large management platforms are able to offer integration to a multitude of vendors. However, Coetzee explains, this often tends to be somewhat rudimentary, resulting in the key features that make the field device best of breed being underutilised or in some cases completely neglected. “Using a management platform from a single vendor that also offers a full range of hardware solutions, which are designed and developed to work with one another, will in the majority of cases outperform a multi-vendor solution.”

“A lot of the PSIM/BMS systems may use OPC or BACNet protocols (which were originally designed for process control, not security) to integrate some of the systems,” adds Brecher, “but these protocols have limitations, especially when there is video involved. So right now, video management systems have proprietary SDKs.

“Having said this, there may be a trend towards using the enhanced ONVIF protocol from the VMS in the future enabling the ‘head-end’ to talk to VMS systems using this protocol.”

When asked about the Cathexis management platform, Brecher adds, “We have integrated scores of third-party systems in the access control, fire, alarm, weighbridge, money counters, perimeter intrusion detection (PIDS), point-of-sale etc. We try to make the integration as simple and seamless as possible, and also to include functionality that can really enhance the operation of the site.”

From the Bosch perspective, Coetzee says the Bosch Building Integration System (BIS) is “a flexible, scalable security and safety management system that can be configured to handle an enormous spectrum of operational scenarios. It contains a huge range of applications and features which enable both the integration and coupling as well as the monitoring and control of all technical building systems.”

The BIS engines provide fire and intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance plus the monitoring of HVAC and other vital systems. The system is modular, meaning users can add or remove single elements or create new combinations as required. The Building Integration System works with tested open global IT standards such as OPC, SML, HTML and Windows – which makes it easy to integrate both third-party security and building management systems.

For more information contact Bosch Security Systems – South Africa & sub-Saharan Africa, +27 (0)11 651 9600, [email protected], Cathexis Africa, +27(0)31 240 0800, [email protected],


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Local manufacturing is still on the rise
Hissco Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
HISSCO International, Africa's largest manufacturer of security X-ray products, has recently secured a multi-continental contract to supply over 55 baggage X-ray screening systems in 10 countries.

NEC XON shares lessons learned from ransomware attacks
NEC XON Editor's Choice Information Security
NEC XON has handled many ransomware attacks. We've distilled key insights and listed them in this article to better equip companies and individuals for scenarios like this, which many will say are an inevitable reality in today’s environment.

The future of digital identity in South Africa
Editor's Choice Access Control & Identity Management
When it comes to accessing essential services, such as national medical care, grants and the ability to vote in elections to shape national policy, a valid identity document is critical.

Do you need a virtual CIO?
Editor's Choice News & Events Infrastructure
If you have a CIO, rest assured that your competitors have noticed and will come knocking on their door sooner or later. A Virtual CIO service is a compelling solution for businesses navigating tough economic conditions.

AI-enabled tools reducing time to value and enhancing application security
Editor's Choice
Next-generation AI tools are adding new layers of intelligent testing, audit, security, and assurance to the application development lifecycle, reducing risk, and improving time to value while augmenting the overall security posture.

Perspectives on personal care monitoring and smart surveillance
Leaderware Editor's Choice Surveillance Smart Home Automation IoT & Automation
Dr Craig Donald believes smart surveillance offers a range of options for monitoring loved ones, but making the right choice is not always as simple as selecting the latest technology.

MySecurityApp for SME security firms
Surveillance Integrated Solutions
Solution House Software has introduced MySecurityApp, a platform that expedites security operations management for startup and growing security companies by delivering a comprehensive and user-friendly mobile app designed to simplify setting up and growing security companies’ operations.

MySecurityApp for SME security firms
Surveillance Integrated Solutions
Solution House Software has introduced MySecurityApp, a platform that expedites security operations management for startup and growing security companies by delivering a comprehensive and user-friendly mobile app designed to simplify setting up and growing security companies’ operations.

AI enables security solutions to define business strategies
Regal Distributors SA Editor's Choice
While allowing technologies to do exactly what they should do with even more efficiency and precision, AI is also empowering these same technologies to break through their traditional boundaries and create an ecosystem where one interface delivers outcomes across highly segmented verticals.

Putting cyber into surveillance
Dallmeier Electronic Southern Africa Cathexis Technologies Technews Publishing Editor's Choice
Cybersecurity has become an essential part of the physical security industry. However, unlike other IoT technologies, of which security products are a part, surveillance technologies have more to protect.