How To Integrate Access Control and CCTV Systems
30 July 2019
In terms of physical security, the goal for any access control system is to prevent or at least reduce the risk of unauthorised access to areas around a building and the physical spaces within. Access control therefore protects individuals and assets within the building and restricts access based on the concept of ‘who, where and when’ credentials.
Integration with CCTV Systems
Whilst an access control system will alarm when a managed door is forced or left open, there is little information provided other than can be gathered from the credential or lack of its application to a reader. CCTV systems can provide both live and recorded images, from the IP cameras deployed and recording system. What the CCTV system cannot easily do (unless there is an alarm trigger) is associate a door event with the CCTV feed from a camera.
Integrating CCTV and access control systems therefore combines the benefits of both systems. Such an integration improves the physical security provided. The level of integration can vary depending on the developer/manufacturer of the access control system.
Separate Access and Video Recording Systems
A CCTV system can be set up to constantly record images on a connected digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR) or to only record when motion is detected. Each video frame has a timestamp for the date and time.
An access control system also uses timestamps for events, and these are recorded against the event records for the doors being controlled. Where a credential is used to try to gain access, the timestamped event will also record the credential holder in addition as to whether access was allowed or denied. If there is no credential presented to a keypad, card reader or biometric reader, i.e. a forced entry, then an alarm event is recorded.
An IT, security or facilities manager can respond to an alarm event by comparing timestamps between systems. This is a manual process that cannot be automated easily without the installation of an expensive middleware physical security infrastructure management (PSIM) package. Manual ‘integration’ like this is prone to problems including a slow response time if there is no one available to check between the two systems. The upside is that it is budget saving in that any access control and CCTV system can be used.
Integrated Access Control and CCTV Systems
The key advantage provided by integrating the two systems is the association of a specific IP camera with a door. Within integrated access control software packages like EntroWatch, it is possible to react instantaneously to an alarm event and view video for the associated door within the platform. This can be ‘live’ or a selection of video frames pre and post event.
Aside from being automatically alerted to an event, this level of integration provides more enhanced security for the building and its users. The access control event is linked to a credential user and any issues with their access to an area can be addressed. Areas can be added to a credential or the denial of access be used for further investigation and training. If there is a forced entry alert, the CCTV system will capture an image of the person or people attempting to enter the building or area. In addition a security manager can respond accordingly to investigate the event further and/or report this to the local police.
Not all access control system manufacturers integrate with CCTV systems. The integration relies on development work between the access control and CCTV systems by the access control system manufacturer and an SDK (software development kit) or REST API from the CCTV manufacturer such as HIKVision. A comprehensive integration like this provides a security, facilities or IT manager with a single platform through which to manage and monitor the physical security of a building. The events database will provide a complete overview of the system and its usage in addition to providing access to recorded images associated with specific door events.
Access control systems will generally offer an ONVIF type video stream and/or an integrated CCTV system solution. Whilst ONVIF provides a video feed that can be seen within an access control software platform, there is no association of door events to CCTV images. A fully integrated connection as with the EntroWatch access control platform and HIKVision CCTV system provides a fully automated approach and one that is easier to use in an emergency such as a forced entry and attempted break-in.
A further enhancement is integration with external security barriers and a perimeter intrusion detection system (PIDS). If external CCTV cameras are also deployed outside the building to cover strategic access and remote points, alarm events from the PIDS system for example can also be automatically associated with CCTV images to provide a fully comprehensive building security system.