Genetec Synergis IX Unifies Access Control & Intrusion
Genetec will be launching Synergis IX, a new line of hardware that unifies access control and intrusion within Security Center 5.8, at SecTech Roadshow 2019 during May. We got a preliminary peek at the system during last year’s Security Exhibition – now hardware, firmware and management software have had their final touches and are ready to go.
GENETEC is releasing Synergis IX at SecTech Roadshow – IX is access control hardware that further empowers the company’s Security Center Synergis system and Genetec’s over-arching Security Center platform. At the heart of release is Genetec’s continued push to enhance efficiency and security through the unification of access control, intrusion detection, video surveillance, communications and more. Obviously, this is much easier to say than it is to achieve.
Something to bear in mind is that with CloudLink Genetec already supports access control hardware from brands like HID Global and Mercury Security, as well as electronic locks from Salto, ASSA ABLOY, and Allegion and will continue to do so. What Synergis IX offers integrators and their customers is another hardware option for expansions and greenfield sites that unifies not only access control but intrusion detection, in a hybrid controller. In lock-step is Genetec Security Center 5.8 – this new version was developed with Synergis IX in mind, giving developers a chance to re-imagine the possibilities of the interface.
I sat down with Genetec’s Lee Shelford and Rick White in Melbourne recently to get a sense of where Synergis IX fits into the Genetec product stack. That wasn’t the easiest thing – Security Center is an holistic, open management solution designed to be all things to all verticals. This fundamental makes the solution hard to confine to a simple explanation. Suffice to say, this further push into OEM access control hardware from Genetec and its ANZ supplier Hills isn’t really about hardware but about expanding the functionality of Security Center by unifying access control and intrusion detection with video surveillance and automation.
As Shelford explains, Synergis IX is enmeshed with Security Center 5.8.
“Synergis IX is tied to SC 5.8 and they are being released together in ANZ,” Shelford explains. “Manufacturing of the hardware is local – it’s beautiful gear, well-made and thoroughly proven.”
The OEM hardware is teamed up with Genetec firmware inside Synergis CloudLink to deliver unification of intrusion alarms and access control to Security Center’s Synergis access control. Synergis CloudLink is an integral piece of the Synergis IX puzzle. Shelford calls it an IP or serial translation device that sits between Synergis IX hardware and Security Center.
“CloudLink takes the notion of open platform CCTV and applies it to access control,” explains Shelford. “It manages the communications protocols of all the access control manufacturers, including IX, and converts them to Genetec language so they can be unified within Security Center. Synergis IX takes the access control and intrusion capabilities of Genetec’s new hardware, passes it into CloudLink, which merges the Synergis access control capabilities that we already have as part of Security Center.
“There’s an LCD keypad for arming areas, which is important – we’ve not had that before in Security Center. Over the last couple of years with Plan Manager into the core we’ve been able to do a lot more with maps and it feeds into this. Bringing intrusion and Synergis into the core is what’s enabling us to do more.”
When it comes to specifications, Synergis IX directly manages 2 doors and supports up to 32 downstream RS-485 modules expandable to 64 doors (128 readers) with 8 inputs and 7 outputs. Synergis IX is a well-rounded solution that conforms with Class 5 – a standard for end-to-end encryption of internal system communications within an alarm ad access control solution. Important, too, Weigand readers can be managed by Synergis IX while in higher security applications, Synergis IX readers are supported by a secure protocol over RS-485. And Synergis IX hybrid controllers feature integrated communications to professional alarm monitoring stations using Contact ID or IP monitoring.
From the point of view of deploying Synergis IX, you can use Synergis Cloud Link, or a Streamvault appliance, or your own server if Synergis CloudLink firmware is installed. On bigger, more complex sites, Synergis Cloud Link is better suited to manage Synergis IX field devices and allows easier enterprise scaling. For instance, up to 2064 readers are supported by Synergis Access Manager server when paired with Synergis Cloud Link. Meanwhile, Synergis Cloud Link supports up to 32 Synergis IX hybrid controllers (or 256 readers).
When the installation calls for centralized Security Center/Synergis servers and devices in remote locations, Synergis Cloud Link principally acts as a gateway appliance that consolidates connectivity between dozens of Synergis IX hybrid controllers and centralized Synergis servers. Integrators and end users are not on their own in putting big systems together.
“As our ANZ project engineer, Rick White, says, Genetec is about removing the pain of staying the same,” Shelford explains. “We have a professional service team to assist – if you have an existing system that is reliable, you can keep it but gain functionality by integrating that system with Security Center and Synergis – everything is already supported. We can use CloudLink as a bridge to bring that existing system over and migrate the database. Later, you can use IX for system expansion and on green field sites.”
Rick White joined Genetec 10 months ago to beef up the company’s access control capabilities has spent much of that time talking to integrators around ANZ so they are prepared before launch and can start showing Synergis IX and Security Centre 5.8 to their own customers. White runs me through access control and intrusion working together with alerts. The key takeaways here are that the intrusion and access control sides of the system are seamlessly presented in Synergis within Security Center. Basically, Genetec can support any access control solution as well as offering IX – end users don’t need to worry about the back end, Synergis will allow management of alarms and access in the front end where the operator will be interacting the system.
“While the integrator cares about the hardware they touch, the end user is focused on unification of user functionality,” White explains. “That means intrusion and access control, as well as video surveillance and automation. With solutions like these you must talk to site operators and find out what they need from their solution – you can’t just install a unified system walk away and send an invoice.”
Security Center 5.8
After we’ve gone through the hardware, we take a closer look at Security 5.8. As soon as Shelford starts opening dashboards and dipping into Plan Manager, the importance of IX becomes clear. Doors, cameras and alarm input states combine with layered mapping in Security Center 5.8 to give more profound situational awareness. Genetec has always been capable and the addition of Synergix IX functionality into Security Center 5.8 takes things to a new level.
“Security Center 5.8 is a huge release for us – we took our time because we wanted to be sure it was ready and we wanted to be sure IX was ready as well,” Shelford explains. “There are systems that are already lined up to be installed in ANZ and as soon as IX and Security Center 5.8 are released, those installations will begin.
“Live dashboards, additional security, mobile app with plan manager, LPR and GPS capabilities in maps – everyone loves that ability to share video with the responder closest to an incident,” Shelford says. “It’s sounds like intuitive functionality, but no one has gone so far as to bring in GPS and metadata from mobile device, visualising it in something like Plan Manager and allow operators to act on it by pushing information back out to the mobile app. In terms of access control functionality with IX, it’s the Synergis that people know and love, with the same look and feel but from a system management point of view the main difference is intrusion.”
Along with the new customisable dashboards, Plan Manager stands out during this demonstration as the strongest expression of Security Center and Synergis IX.
“I don’t know any other security management system or VMS that can do what we do with maps, zooming in and out,” says Shelford. “The control we have in the mapping engine is huge and there are clever new features like optimisation of input/outputs, wall height settings so you can see in the Plan Manager if a camera has line of sight.
“Mapping is another part of this and it’s not just site mapping but incorporates Google Earth to give a more complete picture of an organisation’s arming status and alarm states – an operator might create a map that covers a site, a city, a state or an entire country, showing which sites are armed and which are in alarm. They can then drill down into those sites with a click.
“You can also arm from the map using entry delay or instant arming functions and hover over the alarm to acknowledge, to investigate, to do something else – snooze, forward or open an alarm procedure – and all this functionality is inside the map which opened with the alarm event.”
Obviously, Security Centre’s raison d’etre is video surveillance and that fundamental empowers the alarm and access control side of Security Center 5.8.
“We’ve associated cameras with Synergis access control, which is one of the real benefits of unification with Security Center,” Shelford explains. “They come up in Alarm Areas and Plan Manager as part of event reporting and operators can go through footage. Such an event might be a door-forced alarm or an intrusion alarm – we present all the footage from cameras in the area, from PTZs which have swung to their alarm event preset positions.
“As you can see with the functionality in this Plan Manager screen, we are trying to keep operators in the map task as much as possible by adding alarms, layers, opening doors – the controls on the monitoring task are available in the mapping task – we want to optimise people attention without them getting confused about which screen or which system they were in.”
Next, we look at door-forced live view – this is very seamless, ideal for following fast-paced incidents.
“What Genetec is doing is providing functionality for operators before they know they need it,” Shelford explains. “There’s an art to being an effective CCTV operator and a thoughtfully-designed and installed system supports CCTV operators through configuring of maps and visual tracking. The operator knows which camera is adjacent to an incident by hovering over an icon to view a thumbnail that leads to another camera with a click.
“This piece of software can be configured to cover verticals – we have an airport team, a retail team – but it’s not bespoke. This means there is a lot of functionality that does not apply to all solutions we can tune out for a given application.”
When it comes to driving Security Center 5.8, Live Dashboard stands out.
“Previously we had a stack for events – access, LPR, health monitoring – then we went a step further with reporting into health statistics reporting,” Shelford says. “We wanted to make information easier for people to digest – the live dashboards bring it real time which is easier for airports and other customers who need to edit and personalise their dashboard and personalise their system without having to pay a PSIM developer to do it for them.
“An operator can this dashboard editing themselves and we can make operator edits public or private so other operators can pick the versions they want to use. Also simplifying the experience of Security Center 5.8 is that operations, investigations, maintenance have been divided into colours – access control is red, video is green and LPR is yellow. But we can remove all buttons if all an operator does is monitor video – they can have only that functionality.
“Security Center 5.8 has default encryption with no overhead from certificates – it’s encrypted in flight – everything including video is encrypted and secure,” Shelford explains. “And we’ve added a security score function which tells you how the security protocols applied to your system rate. This score considers workstation security, port lock-down, camera passwords and is not static but a complex procedural functionality with a link to our hardening guide.
“The system’s cyber security capabilities now go as far as telling you there’s a firmware update to resolve a vulnerability and downloading the update and presenting it with a 1-click upgrade option – Genetec update service is now inside Security Centre.”
Another core aspect of Security Center is analytics.
“Genetec acquired Kiwi last year, so there are data scientists on staff,” Shelford explains. “We wanted to unify analytics with Security Center 5.8 so it could be mass-deployed in a way that was cost, time and resource effectively – instead of 10 cameras on a server, we can support 100 – we have 4800 cameras using a camera integrity analytic on a single server.
“The key thing with analytics is reducing processing but given there’s only light processing power at the edge, if you want things like people counting, object detection and direction control you need a GPU. The more cameras are using proper deep learning analytics, the more the solution learns and the more effective it is. Feeding into this, the more data you have, the more powerful analytics can be with sufficient processing capability.
“Having a unified system means we can do scenarios like object and motion detection and deep learning people counting – the can support existing assets but do it accurately – we are in the high 80 per cent at face level and into the 90s counting from the top down, which is tangible data. In the future there will be some behavioural stuff.”
Spending time with Genetec’s Synergis IX is instructive. Combined with Security Center 5.8, this new Genetec hardware gives Genetec users granular and enterprise enhancements to existing and greenfield solutions. Typical Genetec, developers have refused to leave well-enough alone – they’ve polished and streamlined functionality and its intuitive expression to new levels of sophistication.