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Security has become a priority for commercial property owners in recent years, and it’s not just driven by rising crime rates. Building owners know that to attract and retain tenants, they have to provide a safe, secure environment. Similarly, they are also under pressure from insurance companies and regulators to maximize security and protection for building occupants and their property.
That makes it essential to have the best business security system in place – not the most expensive system, per se, but a commercial security system that meets the specific requirements of the property, now and into the future.
This article explains the scope of security for commercial property and describes the different types of security systems for commercial buildings while highlighting the importance and benefits of developing integrated commercial security systems and business security alarm systems by working with specialist building security companies.
Why commercial security systems are important for offices and buildings
A large office building is likely to have a number of different companies as tenants, with each company having large numbers of employees and visitors on site. Similarly to apartment building security systems, commercial building security systems must provide a convenient form of controlled access for those permanent and temporary occupants while preventing intruders from gaining access.
Within the building, security teams must be able to monitor all areas to detect incidents or any issues – such as smoke or fire – that threaten safety. Together with a network of office alarm systems and sensors, office building live surveillance is another essential building block of commercial property security. This is because office building real-time surveillance ensures that security teams have full visibility of activity throughout the property and can respond rapidly to any incidents.
Having security measures such as access control and parking lot security cameras outside commercial properties is also important. An office building may have a parking lot reserved for employees and visitors. Parking lot security gates and access control systems ensure that only authorized vehicles can enter, while both indoor and outdoor security cameras reduce the risk of theft or damage to parked vehicles.
In commercial campuses with a number of separate buildings, perimeter security forms an important element of a security system for commercial properties. Together with surveillance systems and sensors, perimeter access control systems control access and maintain awareness of any threats to the site.
But it’s not just physical security planning that’s important. Property owners and their tenants recognize that they must also reduce the risk of cybersecurity threats. Because the cost of losing commercial data or intellectual property is high, cybersecurity must be an integral element of a commercial building security system.
Business security system components
Comprehensive security systems for commercial properties incorporate a number of important components, including access control systems, security cameras – also known as CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras – sensors, detectors, commercial alarm systems and cybersecurity systems. While each of these components can operate as standalone systems, the best security systems for business work together to form integrated solutions.
Commercial access control systems
Modern access control systems replace the traditional methods of securing buildings with locks and keys. Traditional systems are expensive to maintain, and keys must be continuously issued, recalled, or replaced. Furthermore, lock and key systems offer minimal security as keys could be stolen or shared with no means of identifying who was in the building.
To combat these issues, access control systems replace traditional methods with an electronic solution that allows authorized users and visitors to request access by a number of different methods.
Access control systems are used to manage access to building entrances. Through these systems, security teams can manage entrances to specific departments, employee-only spaces such as on-site gyms or restaurants, or restricted areas of the office. Elevator access control can also be used as another security barrier to each of your commercial building’s floors.
In turn, authorized users, generally employees, can present credentials such as key cards or key fobs to a reader located at the entrance. Recent innovations have made this process easier and more accessible. The latest systems allow users to present credentials using an app downloaded to their cellphone or other mobile device, while biometric credentials, such as fingerprints or iris scans, are increasingly popular as a convenient, secure method of identification.
With this kind of centralized security solution, users’ credentials are transmitted over a secure network to a database for validation. If the user is recognized, the software sends a door release signal to an electronic door lock, allowing the user to enter.
Visitors, including delivery drivers, can request access by speaking to the front desk or their contact via an audio or video intercom. They can also present guest passes to the access control reader if an employee has provided one.
Commercial video surveillance cameras
CCTV cameras can be used for office building live security monitoring. Often used in vulnerable spaces as elevator security cameras or parking garage cameras, video security is used to identify any suspicious activity or in high-traffic areas to monitor any risk of overcrowding.
A commercial video surveillance system transmits continuous feeds to a recorder on the premises or to the cloud. Not only can security teams review and analyze the images and respond to any unusual activity, but the images are also stored for future analysis as part of an audit or to provide evidence in the event of an incident.
Additionally, as modern CCTV industry trends progress, video security cameras are now capable of capturing high-definition images, which helps security professionals identify subjects more accurately. With these images, security teams can use advanced video analytics or artificial intelligence tools to improve the interpretation of the video feeds and strengthen office building security surveillance.
Commercial alarm systems for buildings
Commercial building alarm systems, including alarm systems for office buildings, help protect occupants against internal and external threats and hazards.
For example, commercial alarm systems for intrusion detection fitted to doors and windows alert security teams to possible break-ins or doors or windows left open, which may pose a security risk.
Employee safety is of utmost importance. Business security alarm systems include motion sensors located in vulnerable areas of the building to help alert security teams or emergency services to suspicious activity. Furthermore, for the safety of those in the building, all commercial buildings should have a business fire alarm system, smoke alarms and sensors, and burglar alarm systems. These business security alarm systems should be installed by professional commercial alarm companies.
Environmental sensors monitor air-based and sensory changes such as levels of carbon monoxide, humidity or particle pollution within the workplace. This helps maintain a healthy work environment for employees, as well as reducing the risk of workplace absence through illness.
Cybersecurity systems for businesses
Cybersecurity is an integral element of office building security systems. It is designed to protect digital assets such as computers and networks against attacks that could lead to the loss of critical data or disruption of key operations.
Though physical security and cybersecurity have traditionally been seen as different roles, the lines between them are becoming increasingly blurred with the rise of interconnected systems, and many businesses are adopting converged security strategies.
Ensuring that there are no gaps in a security profile is vital. While physical building security systems are important for preventing unwanted access to a company’s critical assets, a physical and cybersecurity convergence strategy should always be in place to also protect network devices, applications and software linked to those assets. A converged security strategy ensures that both physical and cyber security teams are aware of potential threats by sharing security data and harmonizing cover.
Office building security system infrastructure
In planning a commercial business security system, one of the most important considerations is on-premise vs. cloud security, or whether the infrastructure for capturing and storing data from security cameras or access control systems should be retained on-site or hosted in the cloud. This varies depending on the needs of your management.
An on-premise solution requires an infrastructure in the building – servers or digital video recorders, software to manage the infrastructure and a network to connect the infrastructure with the security or access control system components. The size and number of servers or recorders are determined by the number of feeds from individual security components, and this solution will also generate energy requirements to power the storage devices and any associated cooling systems.
A cloud security system requires no physical infrastructure on the premises. In fact, the storage and management systems are housed in the cloud and, depending on the subscription, without a limit to the number of individual security feeds that can be stored. Storage does not require an internal network – because data is transmitted directly from the security source to the cloud via the Internet, it can be reviewed on an on-premise monitor or other remote or mobile devices.
Integrations for commercial building and business security systems
Businesses are under increasing threat, with 39 percent of respondents to the 2022 Thales Data Threat Report reporting a security breach in the previous 12 months and 44 percent reporting an increase in the volume, severity or scope of attacks.
While individual security components can be used as standalone forms of protection, the strongest business security systems integrate all components to provide security professionals with a single view of all building activity based on live data.
Smart locks – Similarly, smart locks provide data on movements within an area and provide higher levels of protection for restricted areas. Using smart locks enables security teams to restrict access to authorized users and detect unauthorized entry so they can respond to physical threats. The data from access control systems also enables teams to identify unusual patterns of behavior, which may represent potential threats that require a proactive response. This kind of integration enables security teams to make even greater use of the available data. Integrating access control systems with security video cameras, for example, provides data that can help security professionals identify suspects in the event of an incident.
Access control – Protecting your business’s data is of utmost importance. A wealth of valuable information lies in these security systems. Access control systems, for example, provide security teams with comprehensive data on access to campuses, buildings, restricted areas and infrastructure.
Visitor management and occupancy tracking – Access systems also provide valuable data for visitor management, delivery management and capacity management systems, enabling security teams to monitor and control movement within a building. This can be vital in the event of a serious problem when security teams need to be aware of the total number of people on-site, such as a fire or other safety threat. With this integration, business fire alarms and smoke alarms, for example, can be integrated with access control systems to automate lockdowns or restrict access.
Video security – CCTV cameras, such as pan-tilt-zoom cameras, are the most important components of office building surveillance security. Integrating CCTV cameras with motion sensors and commercial alarms for intrusion detection increases situational awareness so that the cameras respond faster to notifications from sensors and alarms. In addition, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can also be integrated with cameras to improve recognition and notification of threats.
Smart integrations for commercial and office security systems
Business security system integration can have even wider benefits as property managers adopt smart building technologies, which can be integrated into an intelligent building management system that provides a foundation for smart buildings.
Smart building technologies enable teams to monitor and automate control of environmental factors that contribute to the quality of the workplace, from lighting to heating and air conditioning. For example, smart lighting solutions use sensors to turn lights on or off in line with occupancy, while smart HVAC systems automate the control of heating and air conditioning systems, adjusting temperatures in line with occupancy levels and weather forecasts.
Access control and other commercial security system components can also be integrated with other building management and environmental control systems to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency. By analyzing access control system data on traffic levels and space usage at different times of the day, factors such as heating, lighting or air conditioning can be automatically adjusted, minimizing the need for human monitoring.
Planning a commercial building security system installation
Depending on the existing level of security and its effectiveness, property managers may decide to install new office building security systems or upgrade an existing installation.
A number of factors determine the need for a security upgrade:
The existing system is based on legacy components that do not provide the performance levels of the latest solutions. This can affect the quality of security, particularly if threat levels are increasing, and limit the opportunities for integration.
Access control systems utilize traditional keycard or key fob credentials, which do not offer the convenience or security of mobile or biometric solutions.
The infrastructure is based on-premise, and is therefore costly to maintain and scale and does not offer the operational flexibility of remote management via the cloud.
Office layouts and occupancy levels have changed following the pandemic, and the existing commercial security systems do not align with the new environment.
Planning and installing security solutions for commercial property can be a time-consuming, complex process, so it’s important to work with a professional security system installer or integrator. Professional installation experts can provide advice, services and support at each stage of the process.
Initial survey – Installers work with the security and property management team to establish security goals for the building. After carrying out a survey of the property to identify areas that require surveillance, access control systems, sensors and alarms, they set out the requirements for different areas of the building with a provisional list of the equipment needed to optimize security.
Equipment selection – Installers provide detailed recommendations for each area of the property, aiming to provide the best possible coverage with the least number of systems. For easier future integration, they select components that are reliable, scalable and interoperable.
Network design – Installers compare the costs and complexity of different methods of connecting and powering the building security systems, either with dedicated security camera cabling or with a data or wireless network. Though there are pros and cons for both options, connecting system components to a data network can reduce overall costs since the network can also provide power using Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) technology. Furthermore, networked-connected security systems are also more scalable, making it easy to add or move components without additional direct cabling costs.
Installation – Professional security installers carry out their installation in line with industry best practices and any relevant building regulations. They install cameras, sensors and alarms in the optimum positions to maximize situational awareness. Before handover to the security team and building management, they test the entire office building security system and provide any necessary training.
Integration – If the security components are to be integrated with other security systems or with the building management system, installers will also carry out the integration and ensure that all the components are compatible.
The cost of a security system for offices and commercial properties depends on a number of different factors.
Number of components – The main upfront costs are equipment purchase fees. The number of cameras, access control readers, sensors and alarms needed will be determined by the size of the site and the areas to be covered. It’s important to select components that provide the highest levels of security while minimizing costs. For example, property managers can minimize the number of cameras needed by selecting security video cameras that combine the widest possible coverage, such as 360-degree security cameras, while maintaining high image quality.
Infrastructure – Installing dedicated cabling for connectivity and power supply will cost more than connecting the cameras to an existing data or wireless network. If the system is to be hosted and managed on-site, the budget should include the cost of purchasing, installing, updating and maintaining servers and associated software. It should be noted that cloud-hosted systems will incur regular subscription charges with updates and maintenance costs included in the subscription.
Installation charges – Commercial security system companies will offer different rates and services, so make sure to do your research. Do remember that the cost of installation will depend on the size and complexity of the security system and the level of integration required.
Operating costs – Ongoing costs will include scheduled maintenance and update costs, as well as energy charges.
The best business security systems for your commercial building
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for large, medium or small business security systems. The right small business security system or security system for office buildings is the one that provides the highest level of security without feeling intrusive or sacrificing convenience.
The best security system for business use should integrate all security systems so that the security teams have a consistent, single view of all activity within a building and offer flexibility for future growth. Be sure to consult with commercial building security companies about the best security solutions for your commercial building.
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