No Longer an afterthought, the integration of a security system’s components with each other is probably the largest physical part of a security installation project, according to Rob Hile, director, integrated security segment for Siemens Industry Inc., Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, Ill.

“The current evolution in integration includes the development of communication standards and product interoperability that enables integration,” he said.

The Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) is the security industry’s version of BACNet or LonWorks. It is an open communication protocol that provides standardization.

The first level of integrating security system devices includes access control, surveillance, intercom and emergency voice systems, according to Rich Sefrian, construction business development for Johnson Controls Inc., Glendale, Wis. From there, the security system is connected to the BAS to provide a user interface for entire building operations.

“Eighty percent of building owners want this high level of integration in order to maintain standardized operations and remove as much human error from the process as possible,” he said.

Customer demand for system integration, which comes with the assurance that the facility and security systems are communicating and operating optimally, is the main driver that will advance interoperability, Hile said.

Placing the building’s security system devices on the network backbone and integrating them with the lighting, power management, and energy and building management systems has led to the resurgence of a trend known as Internet protocol (IP) convergence.

“In the past, when all these systems were separate and proprietary, they didn’t operate or communicate well with each other. By utilizing IP convergence and putting them all together on a single platform, the building owner has superior control over all of them,” said Warren Rosebraugh, director of operations for the Security Center of Excellence at Schneider Electric Buildings Business, Dallas. For example, an access card activates doors, turns on lights and powers the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning in the appropriate areas.

Another trend, according to Rosebraugh, is the refinement of physical security information management (PSIM), which combines security system components to operate simultaneously when an event, such as unauthorized access, occurs. PSIM software documents events and enables management to analyze data for any legal investigation.

Hardware is trending toward high-definition (HD), high-resolution images, according to Sergio Collazo, director of sales and marketing, Toshiba Surveillance and IP Video, Irvine, Calif. Customers expect higher resolution as a result of both the digital technology in consumer products and the fact that the cost per megapixel for HD network cameras has decreased dramatically.

The integration of security with building systems is a huge opportunity for electrical contractors to partner with existing security system integrators and join their cabling expertise with the integrator’s security system design expertise to provide a turnkey building operation solution to the end-user.

“A strong partnership between contractor and integrator offers a design/bid/build solution that provides the customer with a single source that can integrate power, lighting, environmental, safety, IT, business process, and security systems on a single platform,” Hile said.

Rosebraugh said that electrical contractors are not engaged in the typical high-tech security market today.

“However, if contractors partner with a supplier or manufacturer of high-tech security systems, they will be able to leverage their existing low-voltage experience to provide higher value and reduced installation costs to the end-user,” he said.

Sefrian agreed that the economic climate is the perfect opportunity for contractors to add security system installation and integration to bids for traditional power and data and telecom portions of the project.
To be successful, contractors must meet the requirements and obtain information technology network expertise, product training and certification.

Hile predicted that the market will continue to see interoperability standards evolve to enable tighter integration and system collaboration, which will help drive down the cost of ownership through improved design, installation and commissioning.

“The stronger the partnerships that are built between electrical contractors and security system integrators, the more both can share in the material costs and increase their combined competitiveness,” he said.
But electrical and low-voltage contractors need to decide whether they want to remain strictly structured cabling contractors or take on the security and integration solutions market.


BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 and darbremer@comcast.net.