3 most common questions about unifying access control and VMS - Question 1

May 31, 2016


“How Much Will It Cost?”— It’s the one question that is top of mind for customers looking to integrate video surveillance and access control systems, and often the most difficult to answer. An accurate quote depends on many different factors including what systems are already on site, if any, the number of doors and cameras, high-level objectives, and many other technical considerations.

For instance, estimating the cost to install a unified video surveillance and access control system in a site with no existing security system is certainly more straightforward, allowing for much more leeway in the design and installation of a unified security system. However, walking into an existing install where video and access control solutions are already separately installed, can lead to complex yet still costly considerations. The age, architecture and technical abilities of each system must all be considered before proposed methods of unifying the solutions and the costs can be presented.

Generally speaking, three options to merge disparate video surveillance and access control systems will come with varying cost structures:

  1. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) systems are custom-built platforms which act as a layer over the integrated systems. A PSIM is usually considered the most expensive option to bring multiple systems together due to the extensive amount of custom development required. PSIMs also require ongoing capital investments for support and maintenance to ensure system integrations continue to function as each system is regularly upgraded.
  2. Integration or interfacing systems requires some basic development work using software development kits, and is generally a more affordable option. However, integration limits cross-system functionality to a few very basic capabilities such as receiving access control alarms in your video system or linking access control events to video. This drawback is an important consideration during mission critical event such as neutralizing threats. Also, operators might still have to work from different interfaces to undertake certain tasks due to limitations, causing a spike in training costs. Incompatibilities and system failures during version upgrades are common occurrences as well.
  3. Unification is the most cost-effective approach since both the video surveillance and access control systems are engineered to work cohesively within a single platform by single vendor. All core systems are designed to innately work together, so training, upgrades, configurations and maintenance are cost-effective and seamless. Through an off-the-shelf unified security platform, such as Security Center, unification offers features developed for mass-market applications which can be selectively implemented to achieve a certain level of customization without going over budget.

Regardless of the method you choose, there will be always be savings realized by integrating your video and access control systems. Operator efficiency will be enhanced through better workflows, leading to speedier investigations, and freeing up time for other security or business objectives. So perhaps the question to ask is not how much will it cost, but how much is it costing your organization to work with separate security systems? Read more about the opportunity costs of security system unification by reading a previous blog titled: How to build a Business Case for Security System Unification. And join us next time when we ask
Do I need to rip and replace my systems?”.


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