Page 73 - Security Today, January/February 2021
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video phone or on software on their com- puter. They are then able to answer and have a conversation with the visitor. If the request- to-enter is deemed appropriate, the door is released through the IP phone.
Integration with the campus telephony sys- tem through the SIP protocol allows users to make calls from one place to another from the intercom, and to tie the intercom into the pag- ing and emergency call system. Most universi- ties have a paging system, which is used for audio communication to classrooms, zones (parts of the campus), or the entire campus, for making announcements or alerting people to emergency situations. An intercom can integrate with these third-party systems, allowing it to become a speaker end-point where the announcement can be heard. Due to their programmability, the intercom also can become an initiation point of the alert.
Integration with the video management system (VMS) allows for video feeds from intercoms as well as other cameras to be monitored centrally such as in a security center and/or distributed to people in remote locations on campus or further away. In addition, by integrating the intercom camera feeds into the VMS, they can be recorded, searched and archived.
If there is an access control system on campus, by integrating the intercom it becomes another reader on the network, col- lecting data on card swipes, Bluetooth reads and key fobs.
Examples of Integrated Applications
Dormitories are one example of where an
integration can benefit users from a security standpoint. By integrating the intercom to a campus access control system, the users’ access cards allow authorized students into the residence building during scheduled hours, but after-hours they can no longer enter by using only their cards. Instead they have to use the intercom to call the desk attendant to ask to be let in. This provides a way for the university to double-verify who’s actually getting in and to make sure there isn’t a big group of people entering with the authorized student, which is a good method for controlling the spread of COVID-19 by limiting large gatherings on a campus.
In buildings that house offices of profes- sors and counselors, intercoms can take the place of a receptionist. Students who wish to see a professor can scroll through the inter- com’s virtual phone book to find the person they want, and then have a video call with that person, vetting them before remotely releasing the door.
Intercoms can provide gate control for entrances and in parking garages. With built-in access control with RFID or Blue- tooth capability, as a user approaches the gate, the intercom will automatically open the gate. Integration with an access control system can provide additional features such as audit trails. Guests who don’t have creden- tials will push the intercom’s button, which would call a guard center somewhere on campus and a guard would perhaps ask to see a driver license that they can check against a list before raising the gate.
Intercoms can act as emergency call boxes.
When the emergency button is pressed, it will call the campus guard or university police for assistance. Integrated on the uni- versity’s network, the system can pull in video from that intercom or from adjacent cameras so police will have situational awareness. It may also be able to fire a strobe for immediate attention to the area.
Beyond Simple Communication
Today’s intercoms are generally easy to pro- gram and can be programmed for many addi- tional functions that weren’t offered in older models, such as triggering silent alarms, detecting motion, and detecting sounds.
For example, an intercom on a campus can be programmed so that if it’s 2 a.m. and there is a high level of noise or there is motion by the door at which the intercom is installed, it can then send a message, trigger an alarm, turn on a light or fire a strobe. A unique code can be set on the unit that opens the door, but also triggers another action without warning the person. Some intercoms can do time-and-attendance, which could keep an audit record of students’ work-study hours as they enter and exit a building.
With these additional features, as well as the capabilities offered by integration, it’s easy to see how an IP intercom fits into a whole solution for a campus. A campus can do all kinds of things from a security stand- point with what was once considered just a simple convenience device.
Craig Szmania is the business development manager, Intercoms, at Axis Communication.

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