Security is paramount to the success of any business, which is why so many companies are devoting increasing resources to office security systems. There are many different companies that offer security systems to cater to the specific needs of commercial spaces. Compared to residential or single family home security, commercial building security systems need to be more robust, and provide different types of protection to account for the large numbers of people that come and go, as well as the amount of data businesses transmit and store. While residential security often consists of a front door lock, an alarm system, and sometimes camera surveillance, commercial buildings need more advanced security measures that do more than just protect the perimeter. In this article, you’ll learn how the different components of a commercial building security system can come together to create a holistic physical security strategy that addresses all safety and security concerns for your unique business.
Types of commercial security systems
In a commercial setting, there are a few common security systems that businesses can choose to employ. Because not every business will require every type of system, it’s a good idea to consult with a commercial security systems installer who can perform a security audit to determine the specific needs of a space. The most frequently used security systems in offices are:
Access control—An access control system determines who can gain entry to office buildings and commercial spaces, usually with authorized credentials that can unlock a door.
Security cameras and video surveillance—Mounted cameras in commercial buildings help security teams see what’s happening in key areas to monitor office security through video footage.
Alarm systems—Commercial building alarm systems can deter criminal activity, and notify personnel of a breach. Alarms can be directly connected to door locking mechanisms, or triggered by certain events on the property.
Sensors—Door contact sensors are installed to notify businesses when a door opens, or if it’s left ajar. For high-security spaces, some businesses may use infrared, laser, or microwave sensors for more advanced commercial building security.
Emergency and fire safety systems—Commercial building security systems need proper fire safety and emergency detection equipment installed to be compliant with current local safety requirements.
Cybersecurity systems—Many businesses choose to add security for their networks designed to protect proprietary information and private data. Commercial cybersecurity systems can include anti-virus software, data encryption, traffic monitoring, and firewall protection.
Criteria for comparing building security systems
There are a few key things to look for when comparing providers for the different components of a commercial building security system. Some office security companies provide an all-in-one system, which includes many of the above systems. Another option is to use different providers that focus on a specific type of technology. To get the most out of whatever commercial building system you choose, carefully review each provider and product for:
Interoperability—A system that can easily connect to other building management systems gives you greater flexibility to customize and adapt over time. A commercial building security system that can only integrate with a few third-party technology partners limits functionality and scalability.
Ease of installation—Always ask the installer about the scope of deploying a new system. If you want to avoid a full rip-and-replace or big construction project, look for security systems that use standard wiring, like Openpath’s plug-and-play access control hardware. Similarly, make sure the systems you choose are easy to configure and setup once installed.
Cost of maintenance—While up-front costs are important for budgeting, don’t forget to look into long-term maintenance costs of office building security systems. For on-premise systems, compare the fees for regular onsite maintenance and the average cost of software upgrades. For any subscription services, review the monthly cost and look at the price difference to scale the system or add customized features.
Customer service—Often overlooked, customer support is an important part of security infrastructure investments. Companies that are unresponsive or slow to fix system bugs can actually increase the chances of a breach while you’re waiting for assistance.
Another thing to check for when comparing commercial security system reviews is if the company is truly a best-of-breed technology provider. While an all-in-one solution is often tempting for businesses who want a quick-fix for their security woes, one-size-fits-all systems lack flexibility and limit customization. If the system is missing a key feature that you want, you’ll have to have third-party equipment or software installed, which will need to be managed separately. Alternatively, an all-in-one commercial security system might include more than you need, which will likely cost more than you would spend if you used integrated solutions from different providers.
The best access control for commercial security solutions
Over time, electronic key card-based access systems have largely replaced or supplemented the need for human guards and receptionists for commercial building security systems. However, key card systems are a hassle to manage and they’re very expensive. A recent study on U.S. student keycards found that 19% of students lose their access control cards each year. With replacement cards costing on average $22, this amounts to $83.6 million in losses each year. To avoid the security risks, hassle and cost of people sharing and losing their key cards, businesses are turning to smarter commercial building security systems, like smartphone-based technologies to manage access control.
A rising trend in commercial access control systems is the use of biometric two-factor authentication for high-security areas. Biometric-based access control systems use fingerprints, retina scans or facial recognition software to verify your identity. These tactics boost the efficacy of an access control system by eliminating the threat of access card theft, and requiring more advanced identification than just having a credential on-hand.
For example, Openpath’s solutions harness the biometric scanning tech native to the smartphone that’s already in your and your employees’ pockets. Before granting access, Openpath asks your employees or guests for a fingerprint or facial scan on their smartphone. That way, you know for sure that only the right people have access.
Openpath is the best office building security provider for organizations that want to take advantage of cloud-based, mobile access control. The Openpath system can be managed remotely, which is a great way to reduce overhead for enterprise security. Built with a truly open architecture, Openpath seamlessly integrates with other commercial building security systems via open API and mobile SDKs. This allows additional customization and flexibility, plus enables automations across the entire office security system, including other locations.
Best video surveillance for offices and commercial buildings
Security cameras are a smart investment for office buildings, as they add a visual component to the security strategy. As a best practice, security experts recommend using a cloud-based video management system (VMS) to monitor, organize, and store the footage. One of the benefits of a cloud-based solution is the ability to view the video surveillance from anywhere, often in real-time. This means a security team at a headquarters in New York could log into the VMS and view live activity at an office in Los Angeles.
The best video surveillance system for commercial building security is one that is interoperable with other security systems, such as access control. Openpath’s open platform makes it easy to integrate with the leading VMS providers, including Cisco Meraki, Milestone, AVA, Camio, and Rhombus Systems. Together, access control and video surveillance provide enhanced asset protection by linking real-time video with entry activity. Openpath’s VMS integrations also enable more detailed audit trails, with powerful insights to increase ROI, improve space management, enforce social distancing, and establish better overall security posturing.
One use case for an integrated VMS and access control system is a real-time forced entry. If an unauthorized person is trying to get through a door, the Openpath access control system sends out an alert to the security team. With an integrated system, the security camera pointing to that door shows what’s happening real-time, plus identifies exactly where that incident is occurring and an image of the person trying to entry. This helps security teams respond quickly and appropriately, helping them identify who is at the door, and how best to proceed.
An integrated access control and video surveillance system can also be used to automate occupancy tracking in the workplace. Without integration, a video camera can provide a visual of who’s at the office and when, but on its own the video system can’t limit access. However, when integrated with the Openpath access control system, admins can use the Occupancy Dashboard to set capacity limits. Once the VMS can detect which spaces are reaching capacity, Openpath can automatically disable access to enforce social distancing.
Alarm systems for commercial building security
When talking about office security, the best alarm systems are ones that offer more than just intruder protection. ADT consistently ranks among the commercial security alarm systems because they offer more comprehensive solutions. Alongside office intruder alarms, ADT’s commercial security systems include environmental alerts, a range of sensors, and business cybersecurity products.
While individual security products are better than nothing, having systems that can work together creates a stronger, more secure building. One of the benefits of the ADT alarm system is that it can be integrated with mobile access control from Openpath, and managed remotely using a convenient app. With both systems in the cloud, security teams can view real-time access activity along with alarm status, as well as create automations to reduce false alarms and improve response time. For larger buildings and enterprise organizations, an integrated commercial security system allows for greater automation across the entire operation with increased ROI.
For example, if the Openpath system detects an unauthorized user attempting to unlock the door, it can automatically trigger the ADT alarm to sound, and send security alerts to the right personnel. Admins can easily see in the Openpath dashboard who was attempting to enter that door, and remotely disable the alarm and even unlock the door if needed, reducing the chances of paying fees for a false alarm. The integration with Openpath’s cloud-based access control would also allow admins to remotely trigger a door unlock to either let employees out, or let first responders in.
Cybersecurity for smart offices and commercial spaces
The Internet of things (IoT) is integrating systems that used to run independently without communicating with each other, paving the way for smarter, more automated office buildings. In terms of office security, IoT connected solutions enable teams to monitor and manage entire systems—like your access control solution, surveillance cameras, burglar alarms, fire alarms, commercial building security systems, employee records, energy conservation systems, lighting systems, HVAC systems, smart coffee maker and other systems—all from a single, cloud-based control hub.
More business owners are now seeing the advantages of smart offices. Imagine what a smart office could do in the event of a fire: Activate the fire alarm and sprinkler systems. Call the fire department. Notify key management personnel. Close off the fire doors to areas of the office that have sensitive equipment and records. Keep key doors open so occupants can exit the building. Activate a fire ventilation system to clear smoke from the premises. Use surveillance cameras to assist the fire department in locating people trapped in the building. Of course, a system like this requires the highest levels of end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication to ensure that only the right people can log into it.
Cybersecurity strategies and IT-managed networks are great for protecting data, while physical security monitoring, such as access control, helps protect the physical components associated with logical security. Along with cloud-based security, we can expect continued advancements in server access control and encryption. Using highly encrypted systems like Openpath that operate in the cloud ensures businesses are running on the latest technology, with software updates pushed live instantly over-the-air. Comparatively, an on-premise commercial building security system will need manual software updates at each location or server every time there’s an upgrade.
Adding Openpath access control to your commercial security system
Openpath’s smartphone-based access control solutions allow businesses to merge top-rated access control with leading physical and logical security systems for a holistic commercial building security strategy. Openpath systems co-opt the biometric fingerprint and facial recognition scanners in your smartphone, while seamlessly integrating with existing access control hardware and IoT systems at your workplace—all through a cloud-based, highly-encrypted server setup. Plus, Openpath is quick and easy to install, and backwards-compatible with your existing legacy systems.