Getting physical

Physical security is a key element to consider when it comes to protecting your enterprise.

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By  Sean Robson Published  June 2, 2008

Physical security is becoming a key element to consider when it comes to protecting the enterprise. With a plethora of choices in the market, the question is how to pick the right technology and ensure effective integration into the security policy.

Physical security is becoming increasingly dominated by internet protocol (IP) based technologies and solutions. Datacentres which for so long have been serviced by more traditional options such as closed circuit television (CCTV) or physically-present security guards are now able to rely on a largely automated, integrated and networked solution.

"With the increase in IP based systems, it has become very easy to integrate all security solutions onto a single network. Physical security solutions for access control, fire detection and video-surveillance are installed and interfaced on an IT system using standard IP devices such as Ethernet cables, switches, servers and client devices. These solutions can then communicate with each other and be managed and monitored from a single control room," explains Gilles Ortega, regional manager of Axis Communications.

It is the play of IP. Bringing it all together makes a solution that is more powerful than the sum of its parts.

Magesh Srinivasan, regional marketing manager at Sony Professional Solutions confirms this rapid transition from analogue systems like CCTV saying, "We are seeing a huge transition to IP based technology and we are promoting technical awareness of this new technology, among both security consultants and end-users alike."

The advent of IP-based systems, biometrics and smart cards has meant that there is a plethora of different physical security technologies to choose from.

According to many players in the industry there are two aspects to be considered when making these choices namely the technology used and the features offered by the security system.

Indranil Guha, manager of IT infrastructure management at Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority, points out another aspect that should be considered before implementing a solution.

"There are certain governmental mandates that need to be fulfilled. For instance a firm cannot have a stand-alone IP system but must also install CCTV cameras, so in case there is a hiccup with either technology there is a back-up. We will, I believe, see more such mandates in the future," For Mohammed Sabunchi who is the director of IT infrastructure at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) it comes down to more than just what is purchased and implemented.

"The bottom line in my opinion is this - it is important to use the systems and procedures but just as important to maintain and improve them. It's not about just buying the best solution but also deploying and managing it well."

The old and the new

Physical security solutions have traditionally been broken down into three main areas - access control, fire detection and video surveillance. The advent of IP-based technologies is seeing these areas begin to merge and bleed into one another.

When there is an open architecture across networks, enterprises can do away with a single line to each individual camera and recorder. Single lines lead to increased expense and limited adaptability.

"It's about integrating building management systems with low current systems such as fire and life safety, access control and IP security systems or CCTV. More and more enterprises are beginning to have such systems deployed," agrees Srinivasan.

Niche technologies, such as smartcards and biometrics are now finding their way into the mainstream physical access technologies as enterprises look to more secure ways of safeguarding their datacentres.

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