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Tech Talk Live Blog

Security and IT

Brian Steigauf


Traditionally, the security system (door access, alarm systems, and cameras) have been in the realm of the facilities department or, if a school district was large enough, its own security department. The lines started to blur when IP cameras came on the scene. Analog Camera systems required dedicated coaxial cable and monitors specifically for those cameras. IP cameras allowed for the use of Category 5/6 cabling and software on a PC to view those cameras.

Who was in charge of the new IP system? All too often fingers would get pointed in two directions with the facilities or security department claiming they were the IT/Tech department’s responsibility because they are on the network, and the IT/Tech department claiming they do not know anything about the devices.

Traditional, proprietary security access panels were a mess of wires crimped together and tapped into screw-in terminals, often with external lead acid batteries housed in its own panel that hung on a wall. Newer, network devices like the Isonas PowerNet require no external panel and can receive their power via Power-over-Ethernet (POE). Depending on the power draw of the lock, the PowerNet can even give power to an electric door strike without any external power, vastly simplifying installation. The simplicity of installation can also eliminate the costs of hiring an outside company to install the card readers and door strikes.

Integration between the access control and camera system is also possible and relatively simple to configure. Milestone Systems Video Management System (VMS) can be integrated with many access control systems, including Isonas. This integration allows for doors to be controlled from one system and customizations such as displaying video from a camera when a card is swiped at a door, while displaying the cardholder’s picture.

Many of the system’s features integrate with Active Directory, eliminating importing or manually creating users and allows access to be controlled by groups already configured for other purposes.

Moving the security of your school to the network will not solve all the problems of a traditional security system. Careful network design is critical for a school that has many cameras. Today’s cameras are capable of capturing a large amount of data and that data must traverse the network. Backup power via uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) and a generator must be in place to make sure cameras and access controls are available in a power outage. The security of the network must also be maintained.

With recent events, the physical security and surveillance of schools will become more and more important. The convergence of IT and physical security is inevitable, but with that comes the ability to do more with less . . . and as with all things in the technology field, possibly another hat to wear!

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