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Sat 18 Aug 2007 12:00 AM

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Build it with a single network

Bill Stuntz, vice president and general manager (Physical Security), Cisco tells Rupert Cornford why developers should be using a single network for their security infrastructure.

Bill Stuntz, vice president and general manager (Physical Security), Cisco tells Rupert Cornford why developers should be using a single network for their security infrastructure.

What does your new role at Cisco involve?

My job is to build a physical security business within Cisco. Physical security is currently going through a major conversion from being lots of separate technologies, to a position whereby these technologies are moving onto a central network, which is more cost-effective and offers a higher performance.

Now you can collect information from multiple systems - access control, surveillance, building management systems - and use those to integrate your overall approach to security and building management.

How will this affect buildings under construction?

In the past you would have had to invest a lot of money to put in multiple networks. Today, as you are doing the construction development, you are able to put in network infrastructure at the beginning and use it for a lot of different applications, including communications and security.

Can this approach be used during the construction phase?

There are a lot of construction companies that use a network approach to protect the sites while they are being developed, so it can be applied in this way.

This year, there have been a number of fires in buildings under construction in Dubai. How can these systems help when such events occur?

When you have integrated systems on a central network they can be tied together. So when you have a fire alarm or any other type of event - a trigger - it can cause the surveillance system to record high quality video from 10 minutes before the trigger happened until ‘x' amount of time afterwards, and send that information to a secure outside location. This ensures that you have all the information you need to understand what led to that event happening.

Will this technology be taken up by the Dubai market?

One of the things that has really impressed me about Dubai is how progressive it is here. Not only are the infrastructure and building systems really modern, people's thinking is very progressive. They are not interested in putting old technology in; they have a longer-term view of the future and want to make investments in technology that will be in use for years and be at the forefront of the world, so there is probably more opportunity here than anywhere else in the world.

In this region, developers usually build to sell, so are not always looking at the long-term view. Will you have to convince people to adopt this sort of technology?

Primarily what we are seeing is that customers understand and want this kind of technology - but what has been holding up its installation is the supply chain that has been delivering these security systems and access controls. It has not been comfortable with putting this technology onto a central network and integrating the technology.

These companies concentrate on the best way to install cameras, so they understand the guts of security very well. But putting these onto a network has been a real challenge for them and many of them have not really had that expertise. So the industry has not really advanced as fast as the customer base would have liked, and as the demand suggested it should.

One of the roles Cisco can play is that by partnering with these companies we can supplement that capability, to ensure that customers will have a greater range of choice in terms of technology they can install.

‘Sustainability' is a buzzword in the industry at the moment. How will the integration of building management and security systems be sustainable?

Not many people realise the benefits. Putting security and management systems on to one network offers tremendous cost savings in the long term.

In the past individual technologies, such as cameras, had to be replaced every two to four years in order to be upgraded and part of the budget would have to be used to fund this.

But once these systems are on a central network, you no longer have to do that. You can use this same budget to increase the value or performance of the system by adding storage capacity. Once you look at total cost of ownership, the savings are huge once you put it on a central network.

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