Electronic Security 101

What You Need to Know About Electronic Security

We’re often asked to design security systems for our clients. However, the term “security system” can be deceptive. Today, most organizations, facilities, and communities rely on multiple interconnected systems for their security needs. These include physical barriers, a security strategy, and electronic security technology.

Let’s take a closer look at the basics of electronic security technology. Whether you have some understanding of this topic or you’re still wondering “how do security systems work,” read on!

Electronic Security 101

There are many different electronic security devices available today. We can group them into three broad categories: video surveillance, access control, and intrusion/alarm systems.

Video Surveillance

Video surveillance systems allow video footage to be captured, stored, and reviewed. Along with recording incidents, these systems can deter unwanted activity in the first place.

Any video surveillance system relies on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. These cameras can transmit a signal to monitors in another location. Unlike broadcast television, the signal is not openly transmitted, though it may employ point-to-point (P2P), point-to-multipoint (P2MP), or mesh wired or wireless links. Most cameras fit this definition, but the term is usually applied to security cameras.

The cameras you can use in CCTV systems have different resolutions, such as 1080p, 5MP, and 4K. There are also many kinds of cameras, from classic dome cameras to more specialized designs. Your security design consultant can help you determine whether you need advanced features such as:

  • Motion sensors
  • Automatic license plate recognition
  • People-counting capabilities
  • Analytical tools like virtual gate/marker creation

The higher your camera’s resolution, the more storage space and bandwidth you’ll need to store footage. As a rule of thumb, make sure your video recorders and servers can store at least 30 days’ worth of recordings. You’ll also need to meet local laws and regulations while ensuring your system will be fully functional ASAP.

Finally, many clients need a security monitoring station to view their security footage. Whether you’re constantly reviewing footage or you don’t usually need to check camera streams, we can help you find the monitoring option that’s best for you.

Access Control

Access control systems will allow you to physically secure your facility (and areas within your facility), along with monitoring protected spaces.

One element used in many access control systems is radio-frequency identification (RFID) or Near-Field Communication (NFC) card readers. RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. An RFID system consists of a radio transponder, a radio receiver, and a transmitter. When activated by a nearby RFID reader device, the tag transmits digital data back to the reader.

Near-Field Communication (NFC) is a set of protocols for communication between two electronic devices over a short distance. NFC offers a low-speed connection that can be used to bootstrap more capable wireless connections.

Card readers can be placed at any non-public door used relatively often. Employees may be allowed to access the entire facility or specific areas. While your door hardware will come from a different contractor than your security system, you’ll need to make sure these elements work together.

You can choose either simple card readers or more sophisticated models. Some card readers can work with elevators to limit access to entire floors. Other “card” readers communicate with cell phones, eliminating the need for physical cards.

No matter what card readers you choose to install, you’ll need a place to manage them. This space is called an access control workstation, which can be combined with your video surveillance workstation. There, you can:

  • Remotely issue or revoke credentials
  • Manage access control levels
  • Review a real-time issue log of controlled doors
  • View video footage of any potential problems
  • Schedule automated security changes

Intrusion/Alarm Systems

Alarms and motion detectors can help ensure security after business hours. While these devices are more straightforward than other security system elements, the role they play is equally important.

Commercial intrusion systems are larger than the average home intruder alarm system. Still, they rely on the same components. You’ll need to install motion detectors, glass break sensors, door contact sensors, and keypads, to name a few.

You probably won’t integrate these systems into your video surveillance and access control systems. Instead, your intruder alarm system will serve as a separate but complementary security system.

When a security system is developed with a trustworthy security technology consultant, the results will speak for themselves. It’ll be easy to use, effective at keeping your building safe, and packed with the features you need now and in the future.

Are you looking for high-quality security technology consulting services for your facility? If so, look no further than Thorburn Associates. Additionally, we can help with any acoustics or lighting design needs. We look forward to working with you, so get in touch today!