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How is the globalization of the IT world leading to the transformation of security systems?

Blog
06.10.2021
How is the globalization of the IT world leading to the transformation of security systems?

It is generally accepted that the security industry, even in 2021, is quite conservative and that products on this market rarely meet modern standards of development vision and user experience.
However, if you look into the specifics of the systems' implementation and their technical solutions at complex facilities, you may find that things are completely different.


A security system at an object often looks like a set of independent, unrelated specific systems, such as a security and fire alarm system, a video surveillance system, an access control system and a building automation system. Moreover, there are solutions where two or even three different systems of the same direction can function at one facility - for example, ACS. This approach leads to the most negative conditions for the operation and usage of the system.

The modern security system at the facility is an interconnected set of solutions from various systems. This kind of solution more and more often continues to be not only the means of ensuring security from external and internal threats, but also becomes a way of communication with an end user - a person. Such interaction should be as comfortable and understandable as possible. In order to link these systems, certain developer tools are required. These tools must be user-friendly and responsive - both the developer and the customer will benefit from it.

Integration tools

There are many tools to interact systems with each other: from hardware interaction using actuators to more functional software interfaces (API). Within this article we do not have a task to consider each of these methods, so we will focus on the API.

API (Application programming interface) is a way for two different programs to communicate with each other. In security systems this interaction can be carried out between ACS and VMS or between ACS and some kind of global information system. Moreover, there can be a whole cascade of interaction between many systems.



The market demand for the implementation of a complex solution through the integration of various systems sets the task not only to make this complex system stable and secure, but under all these conditions, to remain flexible for modernization and expansion. The most obvious problem of the API is that each developer lays down his own methods of interaction and can use unique data transfer formats, which greatly complicates the integration development processes and does not allow to provide the flexibility of the system.

The solution to these problems can be a step by manufacturers and developers of security systems to standardize the tools for interaction between their products. REST API is intended to become such a tool.

What is REST API

An API, or application programming interface, is a set of rules that define how applications or devices can connect to and communicate with each other. A REST API is an API that conforms to the design principles of the REST, or representational state transfer architectural style. For this reason, REST APIs are sometimes referred to RESTful APIs.
Source: www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/rest-apis

To say simplier, REST API is a more standardized and streamlined tool for integration of access control systems with various security systems and with external information systems. It allows to unify the interaction interface, ensure the scalability of the solution, ensure the subsequent simplicity of making changes to the functionality of the system during maintaining the stability of the integration.

Within this article we will not describe how REST API works and how a programmer should approach work with it: there are many more detailed publications on this topic. From our point of view, it is more interesting to review the interconnections between various systems using the example of a real case - a business center with the possibility of temporary lease of a workplace and other functions typical for coworking.

Exchange of various data between systems

In this case the ACS server is the head system responsible for creating access to the object. The formation of the base of the business center's employees takes place in the usual way for the HR department from ERP. The processes of employees' synchronization with the access control base are automated and occur automatically. In turn, the ACS, according to certain rules, uploads time attendance data to the ERP system once a month.

Of course, there are also tenants of office premises in the business center, as well as there is a coworking space, which can be used with the help of a separate 'coworking service and rent working hours for any person for a certain time. The coworking system in combination with a mobile application for residents allows to manage the rental of premises or workplaces, as well as enter data not only about the employees of the company, but also invite visitors.

The time spent at the rented workplace is calculated in the ACS

The architecture has a video surveillance system with face recognition functions and thermometry, which allows to identify an incoming person, measure his temperature and transfer the data back to the ACS server. The ACS server automatically synchronizes data about employees with their biometric characteristics in the system, the staff database. In turn, when a person is recognized, the database gives information about his identification at the access point and his temperature. After this the system makes a decision to allow or to deny access.

The interaction of the ACS with the VMS also allows to link the events occurring at the point of passage with the archive of video recordings, which helps to register and identify various emergencies more quickly and efficiently.

Summary

Physical security systems are undergoing a transformation process at the moment, and the most striking example of this is the convergence of access control systems with the IT sphere. The current requirements for the interaction of access control systems with business processes, as well as with facility's monitoring systems, imply this convergence, which, in turn, requires a radical change in the approach to product development and the implementation of modern integration tools.