Physical Security: A New IT Challenge

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physical security

When the IT department is involved from the onset of an IP surveillance initiative, it improves the chances of a smooth, on-time and on-budget implementation.

My first step was to assemble a team that consisted of two to three representatives from facilities management, IT and security.

From a technical perspective, DMACC faced two challenges: obtaining the desired high-definition resolution without overburdening the college’s IP network, and incorporating as many of the existing analog cameras into the system as possible to minimize costs. Needless to say, without our systems IT group, we would have been left in the dark.

After a thorough evaluation process, DMACC settled on an integrated security system from Avigilon. It includes IP cameras and analog video encoders to improve the performance of the analog cameras already in place, as well as software.

From our point of view, one of the most interesting features of the technology is that it provides HD video streams only on an on-demand basis. Lower definition (and therefore lower bandwidth) video, which is more than adequate for situational awareness, is used to view our stations on a continuous basis. HD images, such as those required to read a license plate, are sent only when requested.

With this approach we have minimized the load on the network without compromising the needs of the security staff for clear detail that can be used as evidence. And we have experienced a 10 percent improvement in operating efficiency and fortified security.

Our successful implementation of an IP-based surveillance system can serve as a model for IT involvement in a variety of traditionally non-IT initiatives. For example, IT can make important contributions to facilities management, particularly in the area of energy, where the right technology can contribute to greener operations while also cutting costs.

The fact of the matter is that computers now play a central role in almost all activities that go on in any large institution. Because of this, IT involvement at the early stages is more important than ever.

Ned Miller is director of campus safety and emergency management at Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa’s largest two-year college.

This article was originally published on 2014-04-28
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