Businesses are unique beasts, but they all have one thing in common: a need for physical security. Even the most profitable companies can be hit hard by property damage, vandalism, and burglary, and since business owners and property managers can’t stand guard at their facilities 24/7, the task falls to professionally installed alarm systems to take on security threats big and small.
But because each business is different, cookie cutter solutions won’t cut it. The system that provides adequate protection for a mom-and-pop store is unlikely to provide comprehensive security for a large retail store, a chemical plant, or an office building. As such, it’s imperative that those responsible for securing their businesses arm themselves with knowledge before arming a security system.
The good news? EPS Security has more than six decades of business security knowledge and experience. We’ve designed systems for businesses of all shapes and sizes and are well-versed in commercial security technology. We’ve heard the concerns before–my business is too big, too complicated, too busy for a security system to function properly—and in response, we’d like to introduce you to a little something called alarm system partitioning.
Every security system is set up using zones. In most cases, a “zone” is a specific device on the system and the area/component said device is monitoring—for instance, a hallway motion sensor or a front door contact. In standard instances, each zone functions as a single system. If a smoke detector goes off in the west wing of your commercial complex, the sirens and strobes will go off throughout the entire building to alert occupants to the threat.
Using a “standard’ setup can get tricky for businesses with many moving parts. Some businesses have an office or customer-facing area that is open for the standard workday while also having warehouses or plants that run 24/7. The last one out of the office at 5pm would be unable to set the alarm for the whole building without someone in the warehouse setting off the motion alarms. The alternative, however, is leaving the office unprotected by the security system overnight, leaving cash, products, and sensitive personal information vulnerable to both internal and external theft. While video surveillance cameras are a great way to deter theft and vandalism, they are meant to work in conjunction with a comprehensive intrusion alarm system and do not react themselves to an emboldened burglar or environmental disturbance.
This is where alarm system partitioning comes in handy. Most people are familiar with the concept of a partition as a physical wall or divider, and an alarm partition is quite similar. Alarm partitions are used to “split” a single alarm control panel into two discrete units. Essentially, partitioning allows for the zones on a standard alarm system to be controlled as separate, isolated systems. In the earlier example, the office staff would not be able to set the alarm at night due to the presence of warehouse staff. By grouping the office zones in one partition (the “office” partition) and the warehouse zones in another (the “warehouse” partition), the office staff could arm the devices in their portion of the business while keeping the intrusion devices in the warehouse offline while workers are still present.
A partitioned solution sounds great for a setup where office workers use a separate entrance than the warehouse workers, but what if the warehouse workers have to use the same entrance as the office workers? Hypothetically, an office worker would arm the office partition at the end of the workday, only to have an office worker trip the alarm on their way in or out. In practice, this problem is avoided by common zones. By allowing partitions to “share” certain zones, areas such as entrances or lobbies can are armed and disarmed on a “first in, last out” basis. In the office/warehouse example, the first person to disarm either partition would also disarm the common zones (the front door, the lobby) even though the rest of the devices on the second partition would remain armed. The opposite would also be true: the front door and lobby would remain disarmed even after the office system is armed at the end of the day until the warehouse partition is also armed.
Splitting a building with multiple areas of differing security needs isn’t just easier for everyone involved—it’s also much cheaper than buying multiple panels and installing multiple systems in a single facility. The lower expense is one of the several reasons that office buildings housing multiple businesses and tenants often use partitions to allow those businesses to arm their offices independently of each other. Plus, with the ability to designate the shared entryway as a common zone, the lobby or entryway would be disarmed by the first worker in that morning and armed by the last worker out, minimizing the risk of false alarms by customers and other employees. Depending on the brand and type of security control panel used in installation, a heavy-duty system can be partitioned as many as eight times for ultimate control over several areas of a building or business.
Depending on a business’ needs, various levels of permissions can be granted to users of all partitions of an alarm system. The custodian or business owner in the earlier office/warehouse example may need the ability to disarm both partitions while the receptionist or warehouse shift manager may only need access to one partition. Each individual worker can be granted permission to either certain partitions or all of them depending on their access requirements, funneling personnel into only the areas of the business they need to be.
For cut-and-dry setups, a “standard” intrusion alarm system can provide the necessary amount of security to protect a business. However, larger and more complicated facilities often stand to benefit from the greater control and flexibility that a partitioned setup allows. Because more complex scenarios require more complex solutions, its best to entrust the engineering, installation, and maintenance of your business’ security system to the professionals—and you’d be pressed to find a better option than EPS Security. Our trained staff of consultants, engineers, and technicians work with business owners to devise solutions that fit their custom needs and help simplify the oft-involved process of building the perfect security system. With more than 65 years of partnering with Michigan businesses under our belt, we’re confident we can devise the unique security solution you’ve been looking for—whether your system requires partitions or not.