The integration and convergence of multiple functions into a single network system has rapidly emerged as one of the leading trends in contemporary building security - particularly among large-scale commercial properties which are regularly accessed by numerous individuals.
In the past, large-scale commercial properties typically possessed a raft of discrete systems for the handling of a broad range of building functions, each of them possessing their own dedicated networks, access points and control personnel.
This led to a complex and unwieldy situation in which building managers were forced to deal with multiple systems, some of which potentially overlapped in function, stymieing efficiency and generating redundant capabilities.
In order to dispense with the inefficiencies created by this needless proliferation of different systems, property owners and managers and increasing opting to incorporate security and other building functions into a single local area network (LAN).
The use of a LAN is capable of integrating literally dozens of disparate building functions into a unified, overarching system. This means bringing together a raft of areas which may be ostensibly unrelated, yet facilitate ease of management when incorporated into a single management platform.
Water conservation systems, access to HVAC, visitor management, lighting control, video surveillance and security can all be drawn together within the penumbra of the one local area network, greatly increasing the efficiency and simplicity of operation for building managers and security staff.
This increased preference amongst owners and managers for integrated building management systems – which incorporate security and other functions – has led to convergence at multiple levels within the industry.
The security industry has recently developed the concept of physical security information management (PSIM), which integrates multiple security systems into a single operating platform via the use of open architecture software.
Facility managers in turn have building automation systems (BAS) which bring HVAC, personnel access, water conservation, lighting control and other systems together, leading to heightened efficiency which has served to expedite the spread of green building and sustainability practices.
Building managers are also now bringing PSIM and BAS together to achieve total systems convergence, creating single platforms which provide for comprehensive control of the full suite of functions required by commercial facilities.
Open standards are expediting this heightened level of convergence, with the building automation industry currently host to two chief standard protocols – BACnet and LONWorks, and the security industry belatedly moving towards open architecture under the aegis of chief main standards-setting organizations – ONVIF and PSIA.