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Q & A with Dave Tynan, Security Director of Marketing, Engineered Systems, GE Infrastructure

IEN: Have strides been made in: Risk management? Integrated systems design? Emergency response? Hazard controls? Computer security? Crisis management? Please explain.

Tynan: There are at least two factors that are making physical security interesting to IT: you cannot have a secure network without a secure facility, and the total cost of ownership for physical security systems in these tight times. It is cheaper and more efficient to have one organization control security for the enterprise. People and resources can be reduced. Specialists in physical security can be housed in IT organizations.

The argument to converge physical security is becoming stronger for other reasons as well. IT security professionals have long struggled with the dilemma of misuse and the need to "open up" their systems and provide accessible information to authorized parties. The notion of "opening up" is repugnant to many security professionals since it makes rock-solid security so difficult.

What''s been needed for both IT and physical access is a complete command and control integration platform, such as GE''s Facility Commander, that integrates all aspects of security and facility management within a single screen. Such a platform provides a completely open architecture with published APIs, plug-and-play compatibility, cross-platform support, adherence to industry standards, and the ability to seamlessly create a modular facility environment. With it, organizations have a single, intuitive, integrated console that lets them protect and manage their businesses.

In this new world of physical access control and IT convergence, "open" is the operative word. Multivendor support is only achievable through the use of IT industry standards such as XML, TCP/IP, SNMP, LDAP, and SMTP. The platform must support commercial off-the-shelf operating systems such as Red Hat Linux and Microsoft Windows in its many flavors, database platforms such as Microsoft SQL Server, MSDE, Informix, IBM DB2 Universal Server, and Oracle Server, user directories such as LDAP and MS Active Directory, networks such as Ethernet, report generators such as Crystal Reports, and common administrative utilities for system backups and fault tolerance. Likewise, the platform must seamlessly integrate with external applications, such as time and attendance systems, and peripheral devices such as printers.

With such standards, enterprises are able to achieve real-time, bidirectional data exchange and actions between security systems and other infrastructure and applications, including HR and ERP systems. Management of people''s access rights become streamlined with policy-based management across physical and logical security. With one step, an enterprise can set up or delete a complete set of access rights for any employee.

IEN: What innovations can be expected in security equipment and systems, software, training, and elsewhere?

Tynan: At present, the various components used in the typical access control system are not only disconnected, but from different manufacturers. They do not and will not integrate with one another. All too often, they employ incompatible hardware or proprietary, unsynchronized databases or completely inconsistent user interfaces that compete for space and attention. Such systems are inefficient and need many people to manage them.

Although they have been frustrating access control people, who have been forced to use them, for some time, they will not pass muster with IT personnel. There is a good reason for this. Such systems increase employee and training costs, foster unnecessary equipment expense, cause security and safety breeches, and produce mission-critical downtime. Since IT budgets and management are responsible for many of these situations, they are beginning to dictate what will be used and physical access control must conform.

To meet such needs, GE''s Transition Series multitechnology card readers are multivendor 125 KHz proximity compatible with GE and HID Proximity cards as well as contactless smart cards that meet Mifare (ISO 14443A) and Vicinity (ISO 15693) standards. They are also specifically designed to work with most types of access control systems employing Wiegand-based data communications up to 64 bits, including the most popular biometric technologies.

IEN: Which R & D areas are closest to commercialization?

Tynan: Leveraging technology breakthroughs and foreseeing a need for increased security, companies will also begin to rapidly adapt smart cards, biometrics, and intelligent video into both their physical and logical access control systems. As a result, both security and IT managers will be faced with greater system complexity and forced along the pathway of integrated business solutions.

IEN: How significant a role will the web play in security? Wireless? Why?

Tynan: Digital video technology is continuing to improve at a rapid pace and it is undoubtedly the future of surveillance. That''s why all eyes are on IP technology right now. However, few organizations can afford to make an overnight switch to Internet- or digital-based IP video after years of heavily investing in analog video equipment. Companies large and small must be able to painlessly transition from analog to digital.

Today, users already invested in legacy analog systems can immediately begin creating an IP-based video network while continuing to use their existing analog equipment. Users simply connect IP Platform cameras, digital video recorders, PCs, and servers directly to the network. Encoders/decoders provide network access for currently used analog cameras and monitors. Such a platform can be used anywhere an organization needs to capture surveillance video and is especially beneficial in applications with multiple facilities such as banks and ATM kiosks, school campuses, office and industrial parks, and retail chains.

Harnessing this new technology, users bridge the gaps between analog and digital systems by connecting IP Platform cameras, digital video recorders, PCs, and servers directly to their networks. New GE encoders/decoders provide network access for currently used analog cameras and monitors. Such innovations provide high scalability and solve complicated security issues in small commercial to large enterprise business environments.

IEN: Are companies integrating security technologies with industrial operations? How?

Tynan: The new digital software platforms will not only provide IP-based management, configuration and control, but will additionally enable quick and seamless intelligent video deployment and provide an operations platform for business productivity solutions. We''ll move from a world of physical switching to one of virtual matrix switching and from physical recording to virtual recording and archiving.

For example, with intelligent video, plant management can focus a camera on a specific machine and, if something out of the ordinary happens, program the system to provide an alert.

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