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Unification for better efficiency, flexibility, and so much more than security
Wed, 20th Mar 2024

Physical security is – or should be – at the core of any business operation. Providing a safe and secure environment for employees and visitors is essential. As such, a baseline security system is necessary to shift focus from security to production, sales, and, ultimately, success. Video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, communications, license plate recognition, and analytics are all key components of a modern security solution. While video and video analytics provide high-value applications for improved operations and customer experience, access control helps ensure the flow of people, and ALPR and communications help eliminate bottlenecks caused by gates and human interaction. When these systems work together cohesively through a unified platform, they can not only secure a business but yield actionable business intelligence. Combining and leveraging this intelligence with operational data helps improve a company’s efficiency. As such, in selecting a security product to protect a business, you are not only investing in a system that works now but a solution that adapts and changes with the needs of your business.  
Physical security solutions should be unified and not just integrated.  

Like the rest of the software industry, the security sector has worked to develop a variety of methods to bring separate physical security solutions together via integration. Unfortunately, integration is simply a combination of individual systems that are limited in their communication and interoperability. Additionally, integrating separate security functions like access control and video surveillance using software development kits (SDK), application programming interface (API) programming or a Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) limits their potential and is often costly.  
Simply put, in an integrated system, the data is not centralized. While it allows for some combinations of events from multiple systems in a single interface, operators will often need to alternate between systems to complete more advanced activities. For instance, when an organization integrates access control with video from two different systems, the command centre presents its data either on a split-screen or two separate screens. Theoretically, in an integrated system, an operator could use video to compare the identity of a cardholder with a person at a door; however, if the person is denied access, understanding why would force an operator to use both systems separately. Switching between systems would require an operator to either use a toggle switch or move to another workstation. Consequently, this additional step takes up valuable time and can even lead to missed alarms or incidents in a different system. 
Furthermore, dealing with maintenance and system configurations on integrated systems can be expensive and inefficient. Maintenance on such systems requires more time as the administrator must configure and ensure the synchronicity of the independent parts. Also, many required configurations are redundant, forcing the administrator to repeat the same tasks across all systems. Upgrades can also wreak havoc on such systems as new updates can potentially render a part of a security system incompatible with the others. 
With products like Physical Security Information Management (PSIM), compatibility issues are not as expected. PSIM software offers a user-interface developed middleware product designed to patch the gaps between multiple distinct systems by offering access to all systems on one screen. Though it claims to increase control, situational awareness and management reporting, PSIM software does not have a built-in access control, intrusion, or video surveillance solution. This software is merely a superficial way of generating access to several different proprietary systems via one platform. At its core, PSIM software is a solution based on integrating multiple systems together, and compatibility issues can just as easily arise after upgrades or maintenance. Moreover, even with PSIM software, each individual system must be configured separately, doubling the time and effort required. 
Although the integration of separate security systems is still common, with better alternatives available, the technology might soon be outdated. However, it is important to note that the integration of systems paves the way for unification. In fact, integration is the ecosystem’s path to unification. To properly unify your data in our platform, integration is necessary to transfer outside data, enabling the flow of information.  
Without the proper foundation, integrations are just connections.  

Why Unification? 

Unification takes integrated systems to the next level by connecting and managing stand-alone components in a security system through comprehensive software solutions in a centralized and open architecture. Differing from integration, unification builds deeper connections across all independent systems than those connected through Software Development Kits (SDK) or Application Programming Interfaces (API).  
 A unified platform goes beyond tagging or bookmarking video when an access control event occurs or offering the capability to unlock an access-controlled door from within the video surveillance user interface. The platform combines information from all available sensors to provide greater awareness to operators, showing video feeds when alerts are triggered by the access control system but accumulating data from all related sensors in a single click from anywhere in the system.  
A unified solution is developed from the ground up to work together, purposefully intertwine functionality, and offer a powerful user experience that includes built-in reporting and alarm management functionalities. The solution allows for the configuration and management of video cameras, access-controlled doors, print badges, and even monitor intrusion panels all within a single software platform. Unification empowers users to best employ all of their security systems and ensure a high level of functionality and efficiency.  
A unified system is by nature highly flexible and can be expanded to meet customers’ changing needs. It is not an all-or-nothing solution, as the platform allows them to build the security system piece by piece. For instance, a small business may choose to start with the VMS functions. As the business grows the system empowers owners to strengthen their security, by adding access control, ALPR, analytics, and other third-party applications in accordance with the business’ needs. 
Take Security Center, manufactured by Genetec Inc, for instance. The product offers the only unified platform built from the ground up and coded together for seamless interaction and workflow right out of the box. With a unified solution like a Security Center, employees only learn and use one system, saving employers time and money. Administrators save time configuring the system and all questions and support requests are done through one manufacturer – Genetec. In Security Center upgrades, which usually wreak havoc on integrated systems, also apply to the entire solution resulting in a seamless upgrade experience for administrators and end users. Furthermore, concerns about cybersecurity are lessened as companies can rely on one vendor as opposed to a variety of vendors and platforms. A unified solution like Security Center provides visibility into cybersecurity compliance across the entire system. 
More than just security 

A unified platform takes full advantage of industry advances in analytics and add-ons by facilitating the implementation of new security technology into an existing system. Additionally, these advancements are faster and easier to incorporate in a unified system and yield strategic and actionable business intelligence. With ease of access, these upgrades can be used to improve operations and increase Return on Investments (ROI).  
For example, a unified solution in an airport can feed comprehensive security data into associated analytics software that can present a better understanding of terminal usage and density, as well as traveler and visitor flow, allowing management to take action and eliminate unnecessary waiting times. Retail customer intelligence gathered by a unified system can engage in visitor counting, conversion rates, queue management, heat maps, directional analysis, and face capture. This type of information can provide retailers with intelligence that allows them to better understand consumers, make real-time informed decisions, and increase both consumer engagement and in-store profitability. 
In Conclusion  

Unification brings together all security system components seamlessly in a single software platform with one user interface in a way that can vastly improve physical security management. Plus, unification can open up a new world of collecting and using actionable business intelligence that can greatly enhance business operations.