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Consolidating intrusion panel monitoring with the rest of your security system

Intrusion and alarm panels are typically a given in most commercial installations.

They not only provide basic protection of your customer’s facility but also give them the option to have their site centrally monitored by a remote central station or alarm monitoring service.

May 4, 2011  By Jimmy Palatsoukas

From a historical perspective, access control and intrusion panel integration came long before video and access control integration. But over the last couple of years, the latter has taken much of the spotlight. That does not take away from the fact that intrusion integration is an often-sought and very powerful feature. This month, we will discuss intrusion integration, its benefits, and the key functionalities you should be looking for in a security platform that consolidates all these essential security systems.

From a purely technical perspective, integrating an access control or video system with an intrusion panel can be carried out in several ways, with the most prevalent method being electrical wiring. In many cases, an intrusion panel will activate inputs monitored by a door controller, allowing an access control application to display intrusion alarms. Or an access control system will trigger an arming relay to arm the panel. Electrical wiring requires little in terms of programming but can be labour intensive depending on the number of intrusion panels that are integrated. 

Over the last couple of years, integration via software has been adopted as a preferred approach. Here, information between the intrusion panel and a video or access control system is shared over a serial or IP connection using a protocol or software development kit (SDK). Setup and configuration is quick and there is little to no wiring required.

On the other hand, if the integration between the two systems is not available out of the box, then it has to be developed. The development between systems can take some time and users always have to be aware of compatibility issues and know whether the software integration is compatible with specific versions of the different systems.


There are several benefits to intrusion integration. First and foremost, your customer can consolidate monitoring of intrusion events and alarms into a single unified security application that includes access control and video. Secondly, end users can run intrusion reports from this consolidated interface, allowing operators to work with one application instead of several. Moreover, your customers can get access to advanced reporting capabilities typically available in a unified platform.

Integration of intrusion and video offers customers the all-important feature of video verification. This is the ability to determine whether an intrusion alarm is an actual alarm and not a false alarm by reviewing video associated to it.

Ultimately, video verification can help reduce costs associated with false alarms. End-users can make sure that security personnel or local law enforcement are only dispatched for real alarms while avoiding charges incurred with false alarms.

Lastly, a user can even create a monitored door (no access reader) in the access control system with the door contact being connected to an intrusion panel and not a door controller. The benefit here is that multiple contacts do not need to be installed for the intrusion and access control systems as both can share the same wiring.

If you are working on a project that requires your customer’s video and access control systems to be integrated with an intrusion solution, there are a number of questions you will need to ask vendors of security platforms. How is the integration accomplished? Integration via a protocol is the preferred approach. Does the integration allow you to arm and disarm the intrusion panel? Flexibility in being able to arm or disarm a panel on schedule, manually in the user interface, and automatically based on access or video events will give your customer greater control.

Does the integration allow you to configure the intrusion panel or is the configuration done outside the unified security platform? This may be less important if the intrusion devices are already installed but worth consideration. Does the integration allow you to view video associated to intrusion events and alarms? This is a key requirement for video verification. Can a user run intrusion reports within the unified platform? Consolidation of reporting can improve a security department’s efficiency.

Is the intrusion panel configuration automatically imported by the security platform or does it have to be manually entered? This specific requirement can save you many hours of programming. Advanced integrations will automatically detect an intrusion panel’s configuration, partitions or areas, programmed zones as well as extension devices, and add them all to the security platform. The process is simple, automated, and reduces your installation costs without question.

By asking these questions up front, you can eliminate surprises and offer the best integration possible to your customers.

Jimmy Palatsoukas is a Senior Product Manager at Genetec.

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