The ever-increasing integration of human, physical and electronic security measures is gathering pace on the crest of a technological tidal wave, an ever-evolving terror threat, Government demands and the day-to-day expectations of consumers. Chris Plimley offers his views on this highly topical subject.
The other day, I watched my wife doing our weekly food shop on her mobile phone from the comfort of a coffee shop and, perversely, began to think about how far security integration had developed – and, indeed, how far it may yet go in the next year or two.
In general, consumers expect to be able to run their lives from a single personal electronic interface. That’s one of the drivers of progress, of course, as is the advancement of technology and the ever-evolving terrorist threat (not to mention Government and legislators’ expectations flowing from that).
On that note, many advances in the areas of sensors, encryption and intelligent video tied to access control have been made as a direct result of requirements published by the US Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) held its first manufacturers’ training day a few months ago focused on a new standard based around Cyber Assurance of Physical Security Systems. The CPNI’s advice covers physical, personnel and cyber security as well as information assurance and, importantly, how best to integrate these physical, human and electronic elements to maximum effect.
Rapid technological developments and the increased adoption of Internet-based services throughout business and society as a whole have also led to an increased expectation of the abilities inherent within unified systems.
Joined-up physical security technology
The security market now demands more joined-up physical security technology, with the integration of security fencing and security lighting, access control systems, PIDs and intruder alarms, CCTV, video analytics, guarding patrols and Security Control Rooms now commonplace.
In the search for greater security control, enhanced employee safety and operational cost savings, some businesses have taken the matter a stage further by integrating fire-fighting systems, building services controls (such as lighting, air conditioning and lifts) and even business information systems and Human Resources records.
In such cases, the various facets work directly together to improve the overall management of a facility and make it considerably simpler and more efficient for its end users.
This has been facilitated through the development of systems and software capable of administering and simplifying the operator’s task of running multiple functions from a single portal and, it must be said, the advent of more open protocols and standards.
However, for all of the fantastic fancy stuff that’s now possible, we need to get back to basics and do only what’s necessary and cost-effective. That involves asking the time-honoured basic security questions… What asset base are we trying to protect – physical, human, intellectual and/or even reputational? What risks do (or might) we face in terms of damage, theft or sabotage? Who or what might pose these risks and how might they carry out their threats?
Only when we match the particular threat on the particular asset with the particular risk can we design the most effective mitigation solution and then integrate pre-existing security measures with their newer cousins to make it all work in tandem.
If an alarm is triggered, video can automatically be sent to mobile phones, PDAs, laptops or other devices such that the security team can decide how best to respond.
Integrated video and fire alarms
Continuing that theme, integrated video and alarm systems can help immediately target security breaches so that any 24-hour onsite patrol may react quickly and prevent property loss (or worse). Access control systems may be programmed to lock certain areas of the facility and confine any search for the perpetrator.
Often, a fire alarm is the first system to activate. In a modern integrated system this can alert Control Room operators and, if necessary, automatically escalate any warning to the Emergency Services, letting such personnel know who’s on site before they arrive and even any special medical needs.
CCTV can also be used to ascertain if people are trapped or areas are potentially dangerous before the Emergency Services arrive such that lives are not placed at risk.
In short, the greater the integration, the better capability everyone involved possesses in order to build more effective security plans and architectures, respond more quickly and appropriately to security threats and breaches and, ultimately, protect people and property better than ever before.
Chris Plimley is Sales Manager for High Security Products at Zaun