Decision Support Systems: Another Side to Security

Simon Cook

Simon Cook

The main goal of any security system, operator or department is to prevent bad things from happening, writes Simon Cook. We work to secure people, places and assets because safety is so important. However, we live in a world that harbours a wide range of risk: from the insignificant to the catastrophic, from the threat of cyber attacks and terrorism to an extreme weather event or IT failure. We know that attempting to prevent all of it – which is an impossible task – would radically change the fabric of our society.

Whether it’s securing an office building, a retail outlet or an entire city, we work to find the acceptable level of risk that keeps our spaces safe without sacrificing ease of movement and personal freedom. This doesn’t mean that we do our best to mitigate risk and then walk away. On the contrary, we also work to help security personnel manage situations efficiently and effectively and, in the aftermath, assist both individuals and organisations to return to normal as quickly as possible.

In many ways, our job is divided in two: risk prevention and incident management. As our cities and spaces become more integrated and complex, the incident management side is becoming ever more important.

Maintaining resilience

Being able to resolve situations quickly is an asset to any organisation. Streamlining incident management plays an integral role in defining a resilient resolution process. The ability to make the right decision at the right time and at a moment’s notice, particularly over multi-site environments like airports, businesses and campuses, is absolutely key to returning to normal as soon as possible.

Traditional systems leave the job of identifying and responding to possible threats to security personnel. This cannot help but allow for human factors – including emotion, fatigue and poor decision-making – to enter the resolution process, in turn leading to oversights and errors.

However, by taking advantage of advanced decision support capabilities, today’s organisations can minimise the impact of these factors. By analysing qualifying data from thousands of sensors and security devices, operators can effectively be guided through the process and supported in identifying the inputs that are most significant. Working with these insights, a security team will be faster and more consistent in dealing with potential threats.

Situational awareness

We also know that having all of the relevant information in a single accessible place can make any job easier. This is especially true for security. When operators have the data and tools they need to respond to a situation both confidently and intelligently at their fingertips, it improves their ability to do their jobs.

When we eliminate the need to navigate or search for information and place everything – from trigger to resolution – on screen and within reach through an interactive and intuitive graphical environment, we’re giving organisations and security operators a complete picture of the security environment. Once an organisation or operator has the full view, then they can effectively identify and manage any incident.

Guided response

When it comes to managing an incident, security operators and personnel need quick access to all of the necessary analytical data to minimise the impact of an incident and speed up the time it takes to return to regular day-to-day operations. To help point to emerging trends and ‘hotspots’, advanced decision support capabilities can provide documents that pop up dynamically. These reports afford operators essential data and maps of past incidents.

To help build an even clearer picture of a situation, decision support systems can also provide operators with the ability to add video segments, snapshots and documents.

The work doesn’t stop when things return to normal, though. We always need to know how to do more and how to do better.  Some decision support solutions allow organisations to review and retrace each step of the resolution process. Raw data can then be exported to help organisations start building a detailed report of an incident such that they can use this to analyse how things were done and how they could be done better next time.

By reviewing the process from incident detection through to resolution auditing, organisations are able to make predictive changes, create new Best Practices, plan for the unexpected, identify weak spots, determine areas that require extra training and shore up defences.

Benefits for business

Advanced decision support capabilities provide greater situational intelligence and effective guided responses. When examined alone or in combination, the benefit to an organisation’s overall business strategy is undeniable.

With a better return on security investment, an enhanced business reputation and increased marketability, decision support systems can be an invaluable component of any strategic plan.

Simon Cook is Sales Engineering Manager (EMEA and APAC) at Genetec

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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