Security Makes Buildings Smart
Why security systems make the ideal operational core for smart buildings
By Frank Scala
Frank Scala II, CTS, PSP, is Technology Practice Manager, Associate, at WSP USA in Boston, Massachusetts
Most building owners would agree they’d like to improve operational efficiency, increase safety and security, leave a reduced carbon footprint and provide a better experience for building occupants. One of the best ways to accomplish all of these goals simultaneously is to invest in a “smart” building. A smart building threads a variety of technologies – security, audio/visual, fire, climate and controls – through one central management system. A growing trend is for the security system to centralize real-time data from other technologies, with the security team proactively monitoring what is happening in the smart building – even if it is not a direct security concern.
Security as the Operational Core
The security system is a natural choice to serve as the operational core of a smart building. With readers, cameras with analytics and sensors positioned all over the building, the security team already has a strong understanding of the building’s current state as well as who is in it. Security software with an open API enables direct integration with other systems, providing additional real-time data and alerts. This allows the security team to easily incorporate tasks into its workflow that enhance operational awareness and ultimately provide business continuity for the organization.
Keeping security staff informed of what is happening in the building outside of security concerns, such as an issue with the HVAC system on the 10th floor, has a direct impact on the business. With proactive monitoring, issues can be addressed before someone complains. In a true smart building, responses are automated. This means that when the security system receives an alarm about the HVAC system, the system automatically sends an email out to maintenance. With maintenance made aware of the issue in real time, security now has the means to follow up and escalate the issue if there is no response.
Building a Roadmap
When designing a smart building, a visioning session with the client’s stakeholders is key to identifying objectives as well as areas of risk and vulnerabilities. This provides a starting point for developing the overall program. Once defined, the program guides the initial design, including an overview of the recommended systems and how they will be utilized. Any integrations must be clearly thought out in advance. How technologies will be integrated and what they are expected to do must support the program objectives. This helps avoid any future misunderstandings or integrations that work differently than intended.
Making It a Reality
When done right, a smart building provides useful data, optimizes the end user experience and automates processes. For instance, understanding relationships between a vehicle and a person provides insight into how people move and flow throughout the facility, allowing the organization to plan for variations in occupancy as well as accommodate the individual needs of VIPs and other end users. Eliminating the need to swipe cards through facial recognition or mobile credential technology creates a seamless security experience. Temperature and lighting controls within a space can be adjusted according to the individual present, providing greater comfort and productivity. System operators can develop an enhanced view of how rooms are being utilized and which areas of the building have more maintenance issues than others.
Smart Buildings, Better Future
Smart buildings present an exciting future for end users, building owners and security professionals. Because security systems can currently centralize multiple technologies and data, they are the logical choice for building management. This ultimately creates a better user experience, better business continuity and cost savings for the corporate environment.