Facility Monitoring Systems—Going Beyond Environmental Threats
It’s not a secret that environmental threats are one of the largest causes of downtime in critical facilities. We’ve spent more than 30 years developing new technologies to alert facility managers early and often when problems begin: fluid intrusions, changes in temperature and humidity levels, smoke, power surges and failures, even rodents chewing on cables. However, a recent job that we completed overseas was a reminder that not all threats come from Mother Nature.
The client runs a mission critical data center that handles sensitive information for a company in Western Europe and had a very reasonable request: wanting to know when someone was accessing a section of their data center and their identity. Of course, there are a variety of tools in the data center industry designed to increase security: cardkey systems with passcodes, biometrics, security officers, etc. In this instance, the client didn’t need and wasn’t asking for anything this sophisticated. The simple request got our engineers thinking….
Fig. 1– The data center is comprised of 41 cabinets spread across 3 rows, laid out in this configuration.
If notification and identification of personnel accessing the data center is the only concern, the solution is evident: cameras. RLE’s versatile line of facility monitoring systems goes beyond simply tying environmental sensors and cables to central management systems. In fact, they were specifically designed to be flexible and vendor neutral to help with ease of integration to solve a variety of problems.
In a novel approach to satisfy this client’s request, magnetic door sensors were installed on the front and back of 33 of the cabinets and cameras were installed at both ends of each aisle (see Fig.1 ). The sensors and cameras were tied into RLE’s Falcon Facility Monitoring System (FMS), which acts as the “brains” for the operation. Now, when a cabinet door is opened, an alarm condition is created and the FMS triggers the appropriate camera(s) to email both an image and a video clip of the event. Additionally, the data center map seen above is uploaded to the FMS and provides the client with a GUI of the site for a quick reference to the status of all conditions. Thus, when a data center cabinet is accessed, only the appropriate camera records the information and sends it to the necessary staff within seconds! The lynchpin for the project is the Falcon FMS, which ties all of the other tools together and forwards the critical data at the high rate of speed that the client needs.
Fig. 2– The FMS web interface can display a facility map or live feeds from web cameras.
So the next time that you’re investigating facility monitoring systems, remember to ask yourself whether you want a solution that simply handles environmental monitoring, or one that is capable of doing much more. Chances are, when the need arises, having the ability to tie a wide variety of tools into your existing management system (NMS or BMS) will be extremely appealing.
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