Integration, Convergence, and Unification: How your Business can Benefit

Integration, Convergence, and Unification: How your Business can Benefit

by John Floyd, President

Integration, convergence, and unification are three buzzwords that frequently get mentioned during conversations concerning security and life safety systems. Ever wonder if there’s really any benefit to making your various systems work as one? Is it worth spending the time and money to change or upgrade? Most of our customers continually look for ways to streamline and simplify processes and procedures in their business, and electronic security and life safety functions are no different.

We’ve broken down two tactics, one simple and one advanced, to consider when determining if your business should invest in integrating your life safety and security systems.

The Simple Solution for Basic Needs:

A single, easy to use interface that can manage all functions within a building, and at a lower price point has been viewed as the “Holy Grail” of the low voltage systems industry for quite some time.  Traditionally relied on relay outputs from one system being wired into input contacts of another system, this simple form of making systems communicate with each other has been around for decades. This is how an access control system could disarm a burglar alarm or an alarm event could cause a camera system to call attention to a particular scene. 

Although this type of integration is still used today, it is often viewed as limited in terms of functionality and flexibility.

The Advanced, Flexible Solution:

The next level of system integration involves software programming, either via specifically developed code that allows two disparate systems to share information, or by using a common protocol such as BACNet or, likely in the near future, by leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT).  In any case, greatly increased functionality and the ability to more easily change programming are big advantages over traditional relays and input points.

Systems typically used within the security and life safety industry can share information with other security and life safety systems or with completely different functions such as HVAC and building automation.  This type of convergence of functionality can lead to both greatly enhanced user experiences and significant cost savings.

Some companies label their products as “unified.”  This typically means that two or more functions, which have traditionally been separate, are now included in a single product with a single user client interface.  The most common unification is access control and video management with some companies including intrusion detection, license plate recognition, and other functions within their unified platforms.

What it’s Like in the Real World:

Let’s look at a real-world application where integration can lead to efficiency and convenience.  Arriving at work, you unlock the front door via an app on your phone.  The access control system records the event and links it with a video clip show you arriving, which is archived both on-site and at a remote cloud storage facility.  The access control system determines who you are and communicates to the HVAC system to change the comfort profile of the areas where you need to work, and lights are turned on and adjusted to your preferred settings.  The alarm system is automatically deactivated in your section of the building, while remaining armed for unoccupied portions.  As you arrive to your private office, a facial recognition scanner verifies your identity, and grants you access.  All of this technology is available today and can be easily integrated into a seamless experience.  Other technology can be added as well including the ability to verify fire alarm events via associated video cameras prior to evacuating a building, integrating gunshot detection systems to enable lockdown or evacuation, adding giant voice or text-based mass notification for emergencies, and management from a single map or blueprint-based user interface.

The Perks of Technology Advancements:

There is tremendous pressure on manufacturers to design products that can easily communicate with other applications, and many provide an API or even an SDK to enable customized integrations with their products.  This has resulted in systems that are far more powerful, easier to use, and efficient than what was available just a few years ago. These advancements of technology gives your business easy access to the best, most cost-effective and flexible solutions to fit your facility needs.

JSC Systems

The certified team of professionals at JSC Systems knows the codes for the area. Their job is to make sure that the building meets all requirements and to provide the protection that is needed. They test and maintain fire alarm systems to meet NFPA certification requirements. JSC Systems specializes in state-of-the-art technological advancements that are designed to keep people safe. Read more at to see their wide array of services and products.