Tapping the Power of Multi-Location Remote Monitoring
Nov 1, 2003 12:00 PM
By James Gompers
From manufacturing and corporate offices, to municipal and federal governments, there are many environments that can benefit from multi-location remote monitoring. But how can multiple locations be managed and secured with maximum effectiveness and minimum resources? And how can advancements in technology be leveraged without one becoming overwhelmed by them?
Multiple-site solutions are propelling the industry forward, and it is essential to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. These findings can be tied together by examining how multi-site remote monitoring can help in the fight against terrorism.
It Begins with Convergence
In order to fully understand the benefits of multi-location remote solutions, it's important to first identify the key ingredient that powers this technology.
It all begins with convergence ¡ª the fusion of security and IT.
There is a perception that convergence simply means using the Ethernet network to run and manage security solutions; however, it really encapsulates a whole lot more.
As IT managers open up their networks and databases to security, greater collaboration is starting to take place. As a result, systems and subsystems are working together and sharing information in a more sophisticated, intelligent and unified manner.
Let's look at some developments that are shaping the future of security convergence.
Middleware is arguably the most important development in security convergence today. Just as people speaking different languages need a translator, applications running different types of software or operating on different systems also need help in communicating. Middleware plays the role of translator.
In short, middleware enables applications and systems to interact in a heterogeneous systems environment. It functions largely behind the scenes, so that applications, information and functionality can be accessed easily and smoothly across different system architectures, communication protocols and networks.
In a practical sense, middleware enables the leveraging of an investment in existing security, access control, CCTV and other solutions by providing the benefits of integration while using legacy systems. Middleware makes it easy to move into the world of advanced integrated solutions without having to replace hardware that is already installed. Middleware also makes multiple interoperable system solutions possible and makes them easier to use and administer.
IP-based video surveillance, which uses a company's network and Internet technology to transmit and store images, is not only propelling the DVR industry forward, it is helping to drive the convergence of IT and security. One of the great benefits of IP video is that it enables users to deploy cameras for multiple ¡ª even non-traditional ¡ª purposes. By leveraging IP technology, a simple traffic camera, for example, can be used for traffic management, law enforcement surveillance, public traffic reporting and license plate search and notification.
Because IP video also enables security personnel to access and share information quickly and efficiently, this technology can dramatically improve safety and protect assets while cutting costs.
IP Access Control
IP access control is a term many end-users are likely to encounter in the coming years. As advances in networking continue to shape the security industry, more and more access control manufacturers are turning to TCP/IP as their method of choice for communications. As a result, the IP access control system, which connects the reader directly to a computer instead of to a box or a panel, has moved to the forefront. Among the benefits of this advanced technology are simplicity, flexibility and ease-of-use. Some vendors are even providing access control IP gateways, which streamline multiple location applications and create greater efficiencies in implementation and administration.
Multi-Site Remote Monitoring and the Fight Against Terrorism
How can multi-site remote monitoring help America's fight against terrorism?
An important first step in protecting the Homeland is to streamline communications between law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. To effectively share information among these bodies, however, another layer to the network and/or Internet dedicated exclusively to Homeland security must be created.
Once a good networking and communications plan is established, including wireless options, security technology and integration can create a secure Homeland environment. It is imperative that, when building an overall security plan, that key information from a number of departments and entities is included, including local, state and federal first responders, public works, transportation, hospitals and other public facilities.
The next step is implementing a national central command center. The center should be configured so that all control and administrative functionality from regional, state, county and local command centers is controlled from a single GUI (graphical user interface) to minimize response time and maximize resources. From this interface, all cameras can be controlled from a central location, including cameras for traffic, schools and universities, public buildings, and emergency response vehicles. By leveraging IP video, video streams can be transferred, when necessary, to authorized personnel quickly and efficiently.
To efficiently gain access to or control a given situation, interfaces to building control and traffic management systems must be created. Should something go awry, the ability to communicate simultaneously with all departments is necessary, in order to ensure an integrated and well-coordinated response.
For maximum effectiveness, the central command center should "fail-over" control to any location within the system. Finally, these solutions should be replicated and managed at the local, regional, state and federal levels.
The public sector can and will benefit from these advancements in technology, and the private sector isn't far behind it. In an effort to maximize safety and minimize resources, more and more corporate, educational, manufacturing and service industries are making "the big move" to multi-site remote monitoring. This technology will not only improve America's safety and security, but it will also allow companies and the government to be more productive and efficient.