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Avoid 5 Common Mistakes Designing Electronic Security Systems (ESS)


Designing electronic security systems for your business or organization is a serious undertaking. The typical goal is to provide safety and security to individuals and assets. There are risks involved with health and safety, and there is money involved in the form of real property and physical assets. There are also compliance requirements for some organizations that require a well-planned, audit friendly physical security strategy.

When designing an effective electronic security system, organizations can save headaches, time and money by avoiding common missteps in system design. It’s possible that you’ll want to engage a system design professional such as a security system integrator or consultant that has deep experience and access to the latest technology. Ideally, facility and IT managers should work closely with their partners with a mindset beyond design, considering how they will administer and maintain their systems on an ongoing basis. Companies and organizations undergo constant change and so do security technologies. A collaborative effort will reduce mistakes and provide the best security solution.

The 5 most common mistakes in designing electronic security systems (ESS)

  1. Poorly defined project scope / unidentified user expectations: It’s important to start with the end goal in mind. Expectations of what you want to achieve, scope, and budget are all inextricably tied. Is the goal to protect property or bodily safety or both? It’s essential to have a clearly defined scope and goals that can inform the type of system and elements that work together to achieve the goals. Knowing the scope will also inform the budget and ensure the best system is designed for the organization’s needs now and in the future. A system design professional can walk your team through the questions and the thought process.
  1. Insufficient information about the job site: Job site information includes items such as a detailed floor plan of the space, the power grid or electrical access, as well as the schedules and habits of people who regularly interact with the space. Obtaining complete knowledge about the site is crucial because it ensures that you’re covering all of your bases when accounting for an electronic security system; that includes access points, points of vulnerability, and so on. This information will influence needs for video surveillance systems, electronic access control systems, intrusion alarm systems, etc.  One of the reasons that information is often insufficient is that site survey information is captured manually by scribbling on outdated CAD drawings and paper floor plans, by using cell phones to take photos, and capturing requirements on a notepad. Back at the office, it’s hard to tell whether you’re looking at the front conference room or the back conference room and which camera needed what resolution. As a result, information is insufficient to build an accurate security plan and access to records to reference for ongoing administration. Look at apps and providers that capture information all in one place and electronically that allows for collaboration, secure record keeping and modifications to the plan. View a concept video outlining the problem.
  1. Compatibility / capabilities of existing system infrastructure: Many times organizations need to upgrade security systems because they are either outdated or insufficient based on current operations. When it is time to upgrade or modify a security system, knowing the details of the current system infrastructure is important because the new system will either have to replace or coexist with the current system. This may or may not involve arranging system components in a specific way or sourcing particular components so that they all work in harmony. Public sector, schools or government organizations that are funded through local, state or federal budgets require comprehensive records to justify upgrading key components. When information and records are not accessible and current, the job becomes more difficult for facility and IT managers.
  1. Covered dishprojects: A covered dish project is like a covered dish supper— it’s a system where everyone brings something different to the table, and not one person is responsible for the entire meal, or system in this case. Having a security system potluck can present problems, because when an owner or facility manager, a system integrator and an equipment supplier all provide different parts of the system, no one is responsible for the entire system. This should be considered when developing a strategy and partnerships and identifying who will take overall ownership.
  1. Lack of technical expertise: Security is not a light matter. Organizations with physical sites are responsible for protecting safety, lives, and investments in assets, property, and equipment. Designing effective security systems is a complex and technical business requiring the organization to be two steps ahead of malicious intent. Security system solution providers have access to thousands of cameras, software, access systems and the latest technology to design a strong, effective security system. Identify your internal and external technical needs before jumping into designing a system.

Keep these common mistakes in mind when designing and planning for a new or updated electronic security system. Moreover, use technology to capture this critical asset information and look beyond the design stage, a physical security system is only as good as it is maintained and managed.

System Surveyor for iPad is one of the latest tools at the disposal of facility, IT managers and system integrators to simplify the design, installation and maintenance of complex electronic security systems. Download the app or learn more.