Integrating life-safety technologies

In the past, life-safety systems were controlled by different devices. The move now is toward a single set of controls

August 01, 2003 |

Every building owner and operator will agree that the most important issue facing them today is the life safety of their building's occupants, be they full-time employees or visitors. Individual buildings, whether they may be a low-rise school or church, high-rise office building, or a major international airport, each have their own set of criteria for proper security. The challenge lies in taking the proper steps to provide the right tools for these facilities. Emergencies — fires, bombings, toxic agents, shootings, and hostage situations — each demands its own special requirements.

Many of the security systems on the market today include fire-detection and alert systems, security systems, closed-circuit television, access-control systems, smoke-detection systems, intrusion systems, emergency control of elevators, HVAC systems, access control systems, and control of uninterrupted power supply. In the past, these systems were monitored and controlled by different monitoring devices. The move now is toward consolidating these systems into a single set of controls, all working together with the ultimate goal of saving lives.

The Honeywell Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI) provides a single source for enterprise control. This system pulls together all core building systems and integrates information from many different enterprise subsystems, from industrial manufacturing and process automation to financial and personnel records and environmental controls and data warehouses. With the EBI, you have the information you need to make critical decisions quickly.

The EBI comprises components such as Honeywell LifeSafety Manager, Building Manager, Security Manger, and Video Manager. The company's LifeSafety ManagerT provides primary monitoring and full control of a building's life-safety systems designed to provide early warning of smoke and fire conditions and safe evacuation of building occupants. In addition, its seamless combination of event information, response prompting, and tracking capabilities makes it an exceptional incident management and regulatory compliance tool.

The product allows building operators to control and monitor access and security at one or more installations. This application provides centralized alarming, cardholder management, and the ability to acquire and use data from human resources databases.

The security application has comprehensive reporting capabilities, with pre-configured standard reports and the ability to create reports customized to the facilities needs. Asset Locator makes it easy to continuously track and monitor mobile assets throughout the facility.

Honeywell's EBI monitors and controls all these functions. The system's Event Manager component uses one homogeneous interface to monitor and control these systems.

Thanks to the system's digital cockpit, these sophisticated tools can determine the proper sequence of actions that should be taken during an event: lock access doors, power down zones, turn smoke controls, and send proper messages to occupants. In the case of a fire, these systems can send out multiple messages to multiple areas of a building based on where the fire occurs, unlike previous systems that sent out general announcements, which may not apply to occupants on different floors.

Although many EBI systems in place today have propriety interfaces, many vendors are clearly moving to Web-based technology for their monitoring and control systems. Honeywell is concerned about the need to address many of the security flaws in today's Windows- and Linux-based systems.

These systems, no matter how sophisticated, are only as good as the level of training, proper security procedure enforcement, and ongoing maintenance. Building operators must have continuing education and training on these systems. New and rotating staff should have redundant skill sets so that there is no single dependency on one person. There must be regular testing and drills with the operating staff and occupants. Frequent communication with the vendor's central station must be had to establish a comfort level in the event of an emergency.

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