First, Sonia Soltani reports on the new systems that integrate CCTV, access control and more besides …

The world of security technology is undergoing rapid change. The current trend is to fit buildings with integrated security systems, which means components such as CCTV and access control can communicate with each other through the internet. The other key question for specifiers, in the context of heightened security concerns, is how visible they want security measures to be.

“IP [internet protocol] has changed the face of security in commercial applications,”

says Rob Walker, director of consulting engineer RW Gregory. It is also easy to set up. If a building has structural cabling, the security device can be installed on the same cabling infrastructure.

IP-based integrated systems offer more efficient protection to buildings. And a truly integrated system that comprises access control systems, CCTV and PC log-on is what clients want, says Peter Goodenough, marketing manager of Frontline Security Solutions.

“People want to have a future-proof system,” he says. “Security is very expensive work to undertake, so nobody wants to have to fit a new system just after three years.”

The good news for specifiers is that they do not have to choose a customised and costly solution. Goodenough says that in most cases, what specifiers want is available off the shelf – as long as they do some forward-planning. Between the time of specification and the completion of a project, security systems might have already become obsolete.

Credit: Sarah Nayler

The new security guards

The use of IP in integrated systems has also brought a new professional to the forefront of the specification process: the IT manager. Since security is nowadays linked to a building’s IT network, IT managers have become much more involved in the specification.

Goodenough says: “Today the key person is the IT manager. They are more influential on the layout of a building because they are responsible for deciding where to put the services room.” This is more likely to be the case for large corporations that are keen to standardise security systems across their sites – so that, for example, entrance cards will give staff access to all of their buildings worldwide.

The move towards integrated systems means specifiers are advised to collaborate with security consultants from an early stage. Simon Lambert, independent security consultant and member of the Association

of Security Consultants, says it is challenging to devise an effective security system when the issue is an afterthought.

If stylistic debate gets in the way, specification can become even more difficult. “It’s important that specifiers are aware that aesthetics don’t take over the security issue,” says Lambert. “A building can have a beautiful shape with a lot of sophisticated forms but the CCTV person will complain that the lines of view are obstructed and prevent from recording people’s movement.”

Although Lambert thinks security systems are slightly better-looking than they used to be, this doesn’t always make them more acceptable to architects. “Architects love their building to have clean lines and shapes, so it’s very difficult to have them agree to hang CCTV cameras on the wall. They are concerned with what the eyes see and it’s true that security products are reasonably ugly technology.”

Lambert wishes more project teams would follow the example of BAA at Heathrow Terminal 5, where work on security systems was integrated from the beginning. He admits, though, that this approach would not suit every project – and that security is not such a high priority on all developments. “Obviously you can’t do that on Windsor High Street,” he says.

Jurek Tolloczko, operations director at Corus Bi-Steel, says specifiers must also choose between discreet security systems that include monitoring, CCTV and security guards, and a more visible presence characterised by physical barriers.

This is certainly on the mind of specifiers who will work on highly sensitive projects such as facilities for the 2012 Olympics. Tolloczko thinks that, despite the potential threats, security is best kept low-key for the end users’ sake. He says: “I wouldn’t like to go to Olympics stadium and feel I am entering a fortress. Nobody would enjoy it.”