Posted in education on December 1, 2015 9:46 am EST

Security Systems Design & Integration: Better NOT Left to Chance

Why and when church clients need you, the professional system designer or consultant, to stay safe.











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TAGS: architectural design, cameras, collaboration, infrastructure, integration, security,


By Andrew Robinson

With the proliferation of cell phones today, practically all security systems have the capability to be controlled through a mobile app.

Houses of worship are considered by most as safe havens, where crimes of violence and theft have no place. Unfortunately, statistics reveal how worship facilities are just as vulnerable as any other commercial or residential building. The Christian Security Network (CSN) released a report in 2010 indicating almost 1,800 crimes were committed against churches, mostly thefts, with more than $20 million in damage incurred. Given the difficulty in determining the circumstances behind these crimes, and the likelihood of great amounts of unreported crimes, Jeffrey Hawkins, then executive director of the CSN, believes these numbers are much higher than reported. According to Hawkins, churches are seen as “soft targets” by thieves, as most institutions are behind the curve in common security practices.

Faced with this reality, worship facilities are faced with the fundamental choice to be reactive or proactive. Certain security procedures can be implemented rather easily, such as emphasizing locking doors when the building is not in use, lighting dark areas at night, and asking the police to routinely patrol a church’s property. However, more sophisticated measures can be taken to ensure a facility’s security and safety of the parishioners. That’s where system designers and integrators can work together to make a difference for church clients.

Options and all-important cameras

There is a wide spectrum of security systems, and the most basic that can be implemented without the assistance of professionals at a minimum cost. However, some campuses require highly technical systems with greater capabilities and a much higher price tag. Ultimately, every institution must consider its unique needs and goals.

At their core, security systems involve surveillance cameras and a means to store their recordings. The cameras come in a variety of sizes and are designed for the outdoors to be vandal-proof. According to Charles McCready, inside sales representative at Panasonic Security in New York, the recordings of cameras are most commonly sent to a Network Video Recorder (NVR). Through software on the NVR, the cameras can link with access control, motion detection, and building alarm systems. These programs can be set to record on a designed schedule and/or record on motion.

Panasonic’s WV-SFV631L is a full HD vandal-resistant and waterproof dome network camera.

The more elements added onto a security system—from key cards for access control to sophisticated cameras to facial recognition software—the greater the need for church staff to hire a professional. While the cost increases with the extra elements, according to Larry Ottaviano of Hitachi’s Physical Security Solutions, with U.S. offices in Tarrytown, N.Y., it is common for all these security elements to be integrated and automated, providing a comprehensive and holistic security system.

The WJ-NV300 network disk recorder from Panasonic features a built-in video decoder and offers the ability to connect and record up to 32 network cameras.

Cost considerations

The sky is the limit for institutions with deep pockets, but for houses of worship on a budget, there are still a number of reasonable options. Lower-end systems, often designed for residential facilities that can be bought at most electronic retail stores, can be purchased for less than $1,000. The biggest negative of these systems is that they are unable to integrate with other elements in a security system, the experts report. They can, however, be automated and are overall quite user friendly.

With the proliferation of cell phones today, practically all security systems have the capability to be controlled through a mobile app. For integrated systems, this mobile capability can allow users to not only view live feeds from cameras in the building, but also set recording schedules, alarms, lock doors, and more.  continued >>