Integrated Security Solutions

Marcomm Systems Group

Marcomm Systems Group Inc. (MSGI) has been designing, supplying, installing, and commissioning highly sophisticated physical electronic controls and security systems since 1991. The Ottawa based company can secure every aspect of a building, from the perimeter to the inner core, in what President Dave Trudel calls “an onion approach.”

The team builds layer upon layer of security and, “someone would have to penetrate each layer to get in,” he explains. This failsafe ‘onion’ might comprise any number of systems including perimeter detection, access control, video surveillance, intercom, Public Address, Duress, nurse call, guard tour, parking, and analytics.

The tricky part is making sure that each layer of security interacts properly to create a seamless solution. This is where MSGI really excels – the company is widely acknowledged as an industry leader in security integration. In fact, the team just won the prestigious 2013 Security Integrator of the Year Award (please see sidebar for further details).

“You need numerous systems to secure a large facility,” Mr Trudel explains. “We take all of these various systems and integrate them together.” The result is an effective, easy to use solution that can be operated by a single touchscreen. “We tie all these systems together into a single common user interface for the user. [The user] looks at one computer monitor with a set of maps. If he wants to look at a camera he clicks it. If he wants to open a door he clicks it. If he wants to bypass one of the alarm points he clicks it. He is talking to four different systems when he is doing this, but he just has one operator interface in front of him. That is what the integration that we do is all about.”

Integration is crucial, Mr Trudel explains, because, “there is no common interface protocol between all the various manufacturers. So if I choose a different manufacturer for card access, video, paging, intercom, and perimeter alarm system, none of these will ‘talk’ together.” MSGI’s proprietary software Dynatrol solves this problem. “It interacts over the network with all of these various systems. It is the translator so that systems talk to each other.” As a result, MSGI is free to select the most appropriate manufacture for each component. “It enables us to integrate the best video system along with the best card access system and the best alarm system for a specific application – regardless of manufacturer – and then blends them together so the client gets a seamless integration of those systems.” The team also builds in backup systems for complete protection. “There is no single point of failure; we build in redundancy. We have redundant networks with redundant computers with redundant systems.” If there is a failure somewhere, “the system will just redirect to the hard drive that has not failed.”

Video analytics also play an increasingly important role in MSGI’s fully integrated solutions. “Without analytics it would be impossible for [the user] to monitor the entire system,” Mr Trudel explains. The technology is advancing rapidly and can now be effectively used to identify a breach that would otherwise go unnoticed. For instance, video analytics will automatically allow the shape of a car to pass through security – but not the shape of a person on foot. If a person is detected sneaking in after a car, the system automatically alerts the guard and displays the video footage in realtime. The technology can also detect suspicious behaviour, such as a person wandering from car to car inside a parking garage or a person leaving behind a package. Analytics can even detect when an object is removed that should stay put. “We are heavily into video analytics, which gives the client more realtime use of the information that the video cameras are viewing,” Mr Trudel reports. “When we do a project, it is not unusual to have 400 cameras on a job. It is impossible to monitor all of those – the operator can’t look at all the entry points to his building or all of these cameras [simultaneously].”

Without analytics, video footage is recorded only to be archived, Mr Trudel says. “However, on an integrated system with video, we make the cameras zero in and automatically display [a potential problem] to the guard in realtime.”

Not surprisingly, MSGI’s reliable, integrated solutions have earned the company an impressive array of high profile contracts. Public Works and Correctional Service Canada provide a steady flow of work – $30 million dollars’ worth of contracts over the past six years alone. Two recently completed projects of note include the Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex and the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse in Belleville. Projects currently in the works include the Barrie Courthouse, Thunder Bay consolidated courthouse, Southwest Detention Centre, Sask Penn, Stony Mountain Institute, Regional Psychiatric Centre, CFB Petawawa Helicopter Hangar, NRC, and a high school in Baker Lake, Nunavut.

The team is eager to continue moving forward in order to stay at the leading edge of security technology. Wireless door access solutions are one of the most important new developments that the company is taking on. “Besides the advent of the IP camera and video, this is the biggest change that I have seen in the industry,” Mr Trudel remarks. Most important, perhaps, are the remarkable cost savings that the wireless technology offers. Standard door access solutions require monumental amounts of cable. “The infrastructure cost is huge.” Taking those cables away by going wireless slashes the cost of the job. For instance, wiring a building for 500 card readers could easily run half a million dollars; but, if MSGI installs a wireless solution instead, the infrastructure cost suddenly disappears. “We don’t have to wire up the whole building to do those doors,” Mr Trudel points out. “The client can save that money or use it to get more security.”

Indeed, many clients are choosing to switch to wireless to enjoy these substantial cost savings. In one recent job, the team could only secure 320 doors on the client’s budget. After considering the situation, the client decided to switch to a wireless solution. “Now, by going wireless, we can do 1,800 doors for the same price that we can hardwire 320 doors. It is quite a change.”

MSGI has also recently entered the Audio/Visual (A/V) sector, a move that takes the company beyond the security industry. The team will be applying the same skills and software that they have perfected while in security, however. A/V is simply an “integrated system of a different nature.” The company is making a remarkably successful debut, winning a multi-million dollar contract right off the bat. For this job, the team will integrate all of the A/V systems in a large hospital to create a seamless communication system. “We are bringing together all the board rooms with audio video displays so they can have video conferencing,” Mr Trudel reports. “The staff can share their results and ideas and have virtual meetings without having to go anywhere. We have roughly 60 rooms that people can jump into, have a complete video conference and jump out again.”

MSGI has been at the forefront of the security industry for 22 years. The team pioneered a fully integrated security solution with the Dynatrol software that they developed in house, and they have continued to improve key technology, such as analytics, and are at the forefront of the new leading edge wireless technology. Providing integrated A/V solutions was the next logical move. The only question is, what’s next for these industry leaders? Whatever the answer may be, the next solution is sure to be yet another game changer.

November 17, 2019, 9:17 PM EST