From telephone entry through emergency communications to intercom networks
 
From telephone entry through emergency communications to intercom networks

Mar 1, 1999 12:00 PM
MICHAEL FICKES

While closed circuit television systems (CCTV), access control and intrusion alarm systems have always provided the lion's share of security in modern commercial facilities, security experts agree that voice communications can support and enhance security goals in important ways.Telephone entry systems can use voice communications, telephone keypad codes, and microprocessor technology to provide access control services appropriate to certain kinds of commercial buildings.Emergency communications systems can enhance security across far-flung public and private facilities.And intercom communications systems can integrate with CCTV and access control to form powerful, integrated and interactive security networks.

Telephone entry systems with access control featuresToday's telephone entry systems, for example, can provide a full complement of access control services for smaller commercial office buildings. For higher level needs, some telephone entry systems can even serve as field control panels for card access readers.Chris Ipiotis, president of Security and Access Systems of Albuquerque, N.M., a security integration firm, has designed different types of telephone entry systems using units manufactured by Marlee Electronics Corp., Philadelphia. "These systems can often be tied into most generic card readers. If you decide to use this kind of configuration, an important benefit is that you can enter the database information into the telephone entry system. You only have to enter it once."Ipiotis recently installed an after-hours access control system in an Albuquerque, N.M., office building owned by NationsBank. The building houses a number of tenants, including the NationsBank property management division, a large law firm, and six to eight radio stations."We installed a Radionics ReadyKey access control system that tenants use to card-in after business hours," Ipiotis says. "To manage after-hours access by visitors, we used a Marlee VF telephone entry unit at the front door."Owen Barclay, director of sales for Marlee Electronics Corp., says Marlee's systems go beyond standard telephone entry systems. The VF Series of Entraguard telephone entry systems, for example, contains a microprocessor and database storage and can work with standard readers to provide card access control as well as telephone entry control, he says.The system can provide three levels of security. It can:- control visitor access after hours;- control access throughout the day, with tenants punching in codes on the telephone entry system to gain access and admitting visitors once inside by taking calls from the system; and- double as a field control panel for generic card readers. Tenants carry badges, which they present to card readers controlled by the entry system unit.Ipiotis opted for the Radionics access control system because it integrates with an intrusion alarm system and also manages access zones for tenants. As a lower level access control device, the VF series offers neither of these functions.

Managing extensive emergency communications networksWhile CCTV, access control, and intrusion control systems limit access to a facility, an emergency communications system is the only way for people inside the facility to call for help. Emergency communications have been used for years in mass transit stations, parking lots and garages, elevators, stairwells, college dormitories, malls, airports, highway tunnels and bridges, prisons, and other public or controlled access facilities.With the advent of control systems capable of managing large networks, emergency communications systems are seeing even wider application.An example: The New York City Transit Authority, the largest subway system in the United States, recently installed 310 emergency telephone units on station platforms, in elevators and in maintenance areas across the city. The Authority plans to add more emergency phones as a planned series of station renovations proceeds. The Authority selected Vandal-Proof Products Inc., Trenton, N.J., to supply the emergency communications system.Vandal-Proof filled the order with T1240 wall-mounted telephone units, which feature hands-free, full duplex telephone communications at the touch of a button. Someone in need of assistance simply presses the button on the face-plate and the unit dials up to four pre-programmed telephone numbers, one after the other until a connection is made.The hands-free design and Braille information plate on the front of the phone brings the phone into compliance with standards related to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).As with most emergency communications systems, the call stations can be designed with strobe lighting and mounted on walls or poles.An advantage of the Vandal-Proof system is its technical infrastructure, the PR1150 Supervision System. The Windows-based PR1150 software runs on an IBM compatible PC equipped with an industry-standard telephone interface board. It communicates with the emergency phones in the field over a telephone line plugged into the back of the computer. The supervisory system performs management tasks such as remote diagnostics, polling, programming and reporting, while receiving emergency calls from the field. The system can supervise an unlimited number of telephones and eliminates the need for physical inspections of the units.The system can be placed in any location that has access to the telephone network connected to the emergency phones. If the emergency phones use the public telephone network, the supervisory system can reside anywhere in the world. The same is true if the emergency phones use a private network connected to outside lines.

Integrating intercoms with other components of the security system"Everyone understands that pushing the button on an intercom will produce a response from someone at the other end of the line," says Dan Rothrock, national sales manager with Kansas City, Mo. based Stento. "But what if you used that button to send a message to a camera switcher to move a camera into place? "What if you set the access control system to alert security officers when someone tries to enter a facility using a card that has been canceled? Instead of receiving a message about a bad card read several days later, the system could open a connection between the security station and the appropriate intercom, while moving a nearby CCTV camera into place."It's what we call an active system, and it's a useful way to integrate voice, access control and CCTV in a facility's security system."While this level of integration has always been possible, analog audio technology combined with digital CCTV technology made it difficult and expensive. When Stento brought out its first digital intercom product - AlphaCom - in 1995, it was only a matter of time until someone developed an economical way to tie the digital voice system together with CCTV and access control.Integration arrived last year with the introduction of the Oasis software security management product from Orion Automation Inc. of Branson, Mo. The system can combine CCTV, access control, alarm, building management and intercom subsystems into a single coordinated system.Stento developed a computer interface module (CIM) capable of connecting its digital AlphaCom intercom networks to Oasis. The Oasis workstation operates in parallel with the AlphaCom computer control panel as well as control panels operating the CCTV and access control systems. Any call request or other function sent through any of the security subsystems shows up on the graphical screen.John Lothrop, vice president of sales for Advent Systems Inc., a security system integrator based in Elmhurst, Ill., says his company has successfully integrated several installations with Oasis, using both TOA and Stento intercom systems.In its first major project along these lines, Advent integrated an intercom system with CCTV and access control systems protecting a five-building campus with three parking structures. The campus houses offices for 8,000 employees of a major insurance company. The CCTV system includes 120 American Dynamics cameras, both fixed and pan/tilt/zoom, monitoring indoor and outdoor locations. An American Dynamics matrix switcher controls the cameras, while Robot multiplexers manage real-time American Dynamics videotape recorders. The access control system uses 320 Casi-Rusco proximity card readers and a Casi-Rusco Portrait Perfect badging system.Five Stento AlphaCom exchanges linked together into an AlphaNet provide integrated intercom communications from parking gates around the perimeter, from entrances to all of the buildings, and throughout the 60 elevators serving the five-building complex.The entire system communicates over a fiber-optics network.Orion's Oasis software plays traffic cop and manages the fully integrated security system with a single graphical interface."When you press an intercom button, for example, a signal routes through the software and calls up a floor plan or map of that area of the facility," says Hal Bauer, a project manager with Advent. "The operator uses a mouse to click on an intercom icon on the map and talks to the individual. The operator can use the same screen to call up nearby cameras and make it possible to see who is using the intercom. It's the same process when a door alarm goes off."A system operator can pick and choose how alarms and calls are routed, Bauer adds. The central security station may receive calls and alarms from certain areas of a facility, while other calls and alarms travel to security substations. In short, the system makes complex security technology easier to manage and use.The Oasis software represents a significant advance in security system integration, particularly for voice systems integration, says Lothrop. "It has always been difficult to integrate voice systems smoothly into CCTV and access control systems," he says. "Now that's changing. As a result, I think you'll see better uses for voice communications in security in the future."

SCAN-ing for security in Tampa

Security Forces Inc., Tampa, Fla., provides security officers to patrol sites for commercial, industrial and residential clients. The company also provides roving security patrol response services for clients.Among Security Forces' clients are a number of businesses that belong to a Tampa business association called the West Shore Alliance. Several years ago, the Crime Committee of the West Shore Alliance and the Tampa police department implemented a program called the Security Communications Assistance Network or SCAN. Under SCAN, guard services providing commercial security across Tampa carry communications equipment supplied by Nextel Communications Inc. of McLean, Va. When the program began, Nextel supplied a device that combined two-way radio and cellular phone communications in a single palm-sized unit. Recently, Nextel updated the original equipment with a new unit, the I-390, a device manufactured by Motorola that adds paging to the two-way radio and cellular phone capabilities. With the I-390, the SCAN program ties security efforts together across the city with a separate two-way radio frequency that allows the guard services and the police department to listen to and interact with each other."SCAN has worked effectively with this equipment," says Julie Frenzel, Security Forces' corporate marketing representative. "If there is a burglary down the street, we can be updated instantly over the radio.In providing services for customers not involved in the SCAN program, Security Forces equips its officers with devices appropriate to the job. Officers patrolling large corporate facilities, for example, will carry pagers and two-way radios.Pagers allow Security Forces managers or client managers to contact officers in the field, who then find a telephone and call in. Using two-way radios, the officers in the field can communicate with each other and coordinate activities.In some cases, Security Forces officers carry only cellular phones. For example, the company frequently sends single officers out to keep an eye on small Florida Power construction sites. A single officer has no need for two-way radio communication. But a cell phone is necessary because no phone is available at such a site. "The equipment we supply to our officers depends on what we have to do. We provide security services for Chase Manhattan Bank, for example. In that case, the site security supervisor carries a Nextel combination device. He uses the two-way feature to talk to officers on patrol and the cell-phone to stay in touch with the client."Frenzel also notes that the Nextel cellular phone features can be programmed for limited use. If, for example, a large, wide-ranging security patrol were equipped with cellular phones, it might be wise to program those phones to be able to call only the home office, a property manager, the owner, and the police. Such restrictions protect against expensive personal calls. "We don't use these features," Frenzel says. "We control use of the phones by monitoring the itemized billing logs to make sure that no one is making too much personal use of the phones."

 
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