Although it’s the big corporations that often garner the headlines, the reality is that a small to mid-size business is where most of America goes to work each day.
Statistics show us that 99 percent of independent enterprises employ fewer than 500 workers, yet account for more than half of the American workforce. Drilling down even further, nearly 20 million Americans work in companies with less than 20 employees.
Small business is really big business in the United States and although the scale is diminished, the issues these companies face are not. Like their larger corporate counterparts, they should be placing security concerns on the table alongside healthcare, payroll, and marketing.
Because as we all know, crime doesn’t discriminate by size. A small business is just as vulnerable and is probably less able to absorb the cost of a burglary, act of vandalism or a band of shoplifters.
Consider the example of thieves that recently targeted some car dealerships. These criminals stole wheels and rims from dozens of vehicles, costing these businesses thousands and thousands of dollars. While it isn’t known if these businesses had any type of security system in place, the reality is that small businesses often don’t make the investment because they see too many barriers.
Even if they can afford a system, they ask themselves: Who will run it? There isn’t likely to be a dedicated security director on board, but rather the task goes to someone whose job title involves finance or sales or even to the owner of the business.
And what about keeping up with technology? Again, asking someone to be responsible for managing a security system involving cameras, alarms and maybe even an access control system seems a daunting task, especially if they are dealing with disparate systems that require an individual to look at video, compare it to alarm or card data and then see how it all fits together.
Fortunately, the industry has responded by offering technology platforms that aren’t just enterprise-level systems passed on to small businesses, but rather are security offerings created to address the key concerns of these users: ease of use, minimal training, and the ability for the system to evolve along with the business.
Looking at a typical small business, such as a car dealership, we see that by bringing all the components together — video, intrusion and access control — it is possible for one person to easily move among different applications, especially when the system features a customizable dashboard. What can also make this type of system workable for the small business owner is that it is accessible not just in the office or at a specific desktop, but rather everything can be controlled via phone or a tablet-based app. This means that when an alarm goes off at the car lot in the middle of the night, the owner needs only sign onto his mobile device and manage the situation in real time. Or if an employee needs to get in after hours, he can unlock the door remotely to accommodate this request, but also monitor it via the video system.
Another plus of a system aimed at the small to mid-size market is that it takes into consideration issues such as training and expansion. Keeping operations simple means that even if someone hasn’t created a report or viewed video in a while, it is intuitive enough that they can do it without going through a thick manual or asking for assistance from the installer. And if access control or intrusion isn’t top-of-the-list at first, it’s easy enough to add in those features going forward because the foundation is there. The owner can even get coverage when he expands the size of his dealership, because the system is scalable for adding cameras or cardholders.
Security is important no matter whether a business employs 50 or 5,000. The good news is that now there are solutions that allow everyone to build an integrated system that suits their particular need.
What are the main security concerns of your small business? Are you juggling different systems and interfaces for your video, intrusion and access control systems? Do you integrate security? Please let me know your experience by leaving a comment below.
Cost efficient, powerful and effective, virtualization has become a well-used tool in today’s tech-savvy world. As demand for computing increases, so has the need to make maximum use of physical servers by creating virtual machines within them.
Most servers are idle for a good amount of time, so it only makes sense to deploy virtualization to make the best use of what is already in play.
Of course, not every user has the same needs and expectations. And so it’s important to understand virtualization and its opportunities and limitations for a particular security scenario.
Think about your individual situation as it applies to virtualization and a key security need such as access control. Where do you fit in?
A small operator, such as a convenience store with a few doors to control is looking for virtualization on a whole different level than a government-run operation that requires a high-degree of reliability — to the level of 99.999 percent.
In the first scenario, the end user may be OK with some degree of downtime. Servers running virtual machines will fail and restart and in the process lose some, but far from all, data. That high availability may be good enough for some access control requirements.
But others, large corporations or governmental enterprises as an example, are looking for virtualization that is fault tolerant, meaning that in the event of a system failure, there are duplicate components in play that will keep processing on the same CPU clock so that no amount of data is lost. They can’t afford to have doors that won’t open — or close — or present opportunities for cardholder information to be compromised.
Also part of the decision-making process when it comes to virtualization is the level of expertise you have and the degree to which you want to own the oversight of the system.
The mom-and-pop store operator who wants to partake in a virtualized access control environment may not have the expertise to do this on his own. Fortunately, there are solutions involving access control products and virtualization providers that can be deployed as a “black box” for virtualization without the need of an expert.
In contrast, companies with highly skilled IT departments that require virtualization can customize the solution to fit their needs. Those firms have the flexibility to implement a range of solutions from black box simplicity to high complexity and high cost.
While the computing world has certainly seen its share of fads, virtualization isn’t one of them. In fact, it is the gateway to cloud computing and when used properly can be a critical factor in your access control solution.
To learn if a virtual environment is right for your security needs, watch my recorded webinar on Virtualization in Access Control, held in conjunction with Stratus Technologies.
Decisions, decisions. We make them every day – some are fairly mundane, like what to eat for breakfast, and some are pretty significant like which financial investments to make.
Within a physical access control system, the decision to grant or deny access to a cardholder normally happens at the door controller located at the individual door or centralized with one controller handling multiple doors. The controller handles the authorization process, determining who has access to a particular door and if they can enter, or sometimes exit, an area.
Deciding which system architecture is right for a particular installation means closely examining the pluses and minuses of each of these scenarios and settling on the one that makes the most business and security sense for an organization. The good news is that with today’s technology, you can select a system that plays to the strengths of your specific situation.
Sometimes the decision is determined by the configuration of your building. Will the system be installed in a building occupied by a single corporate office, or in a building that houses office suites? Is it planned for a public space, or a private space?
For example, deploying individual controllers at each door location means that technicians will need easy access to service and maintain each one. Does the physical set up or aesthetics require the controllers to be placed under ceiling tiles? While certainly doable, you may have to reroute people to different access points while the controller in the ceiling is being serviced. This may be a small inconvenience, but it is sometimes an important consideration for hospitals and healthcare facilities, where ceiling disruptions require the area to be cordoned off for a period of time.
Think as well about how much your system will grow, and in what ways. Will you need to customize specific doors because of the type of area you’re protecting, or are you anticipating wholesale expansion that could bring dozens of doors online? Do you have clusters of access control doors located in close proximity to each other, or are they spread out?
An IP reader at the door, which bypasses the need for a control panel altogether, can provide easy installation and quick access to database information. The only caveat is that information and wiring located on the unsecure side of the door is prone to tampering, vandalism and hacking.
Another option is to locate the decision-making power at the server, which can be viewed as a more efficient choice. However, since each real-time access decision is taking place over the network, this option is inherently less reliable. If the network goes down, or the server goes down, so do all of your doors.
There is also the option these days of centralizing system management in the cloud. While this set up can work well for reporting and processing activities, putting the real time card access go / no-go decision making power in the cloud isn’t widely embraced yet.
The key is to look closely at what you want to achieve with your access control system, its size and potential for growth and then select a configuration of single or multi-door controllers that best meets the overall needs and security considerations of the business. It’s not a matter of right or wrong choices, but rather having the luxury of customizing your access control scheme.
Which type of system architecture have you deployed and why was that the right choice for your project?
We can update our Facebook status, find a ride, and make a dinner reservation through a few swipes on a smartphone, so why not apply that same intuitive user experience to security systems?
While the adoption of the latest technology has forged ahead on a consumer level, it has lagged a bit in some areas of business, such as managing physical security. But the continuing shift toward mobile applications and cloud-based systems has as much a place in the security world as it does with managing our day-to-day lives.
When we look at the spectrum of solutions offered for managing security, there are definite benefits in moving away from traditional models and introducing user experiences that employ the latest technological advances.
Consider, for example, the act of removing someone from the access control system when they quit or are fired. If they carried an ID badge, or were granted access to one or more buildings or rooms within those buildings, they may show up in several databases. To correct that, staff resources would need to be spent finding and removing that person from multiple systems under most existing systems.
But under the latest scenarios, it is possible to bring all those databases together on a single platform. So rather than taking multiple steps — logging in and out of various databases to make changes — now one person can do it all in a single step, ensuring that the ex-employee’s access privileges to doors, phones, computers and the like are all canceled simultaneously.
Along that same vein, another change in the user experience is just who is performing that maintenance. Again, the traditional approach is for companies to maintain their own systems, adding and deleting names and only calling upon their security integrators when the system crashes and all the data is lost. Today, however, more companies are opting to go with hosted or managed solutions that put system management in the hands of a third party, either completely or partially. The advantages of this approach include less burden on the IT department and more continuity with databases and their maintenance.
Of course, a discussion of the evolving user experience wouldn’t be complete without looking at the growing role of mobile applications. Not only do these apps move us away from reliance on desktops, but they also allow end users to take action quickly and efficiently, enabling them to respond to emergencies on the fly. So not only can a business owner unlock a door for an employee who forgot their key, but a school administrator can lockdown the building when alerted of a potential threat to the facility.
We all want convenience in our lives and now, through the latest developments in the marketplace, we can have that same easy usability and portability with our security systems as well.
Want to learn more, then watch my recorded webinar where I discussed the importance of the user experience in security and latest technologies in the market that are driving a new type of security – one that is all about usability, portability, and convenience.
What would you like to see added to simplify the Security User Experience? Please leave me a Comment below with your ideas.
A backbone in international commerce, ports provide their own unique security challenges, with threats coming from land and air as well as on and below the water.
Ports also house a wide variety of governmental and private commercial enterprises, spread out over a huge land and water mass. As a result, there are likely more than a dozen different systems —radar, sonar, security, fire and more — in action at any given time involving local law enforcement, Coast Guard, private security and other agencies, making the need for proper communication among system users crucial when an incident occurs.
So how can all these agencies best coordinate their communications so when an event does occur it can be responded to, recorded and reported on in the most efficient and accurate fashion?
Physical security information management (PSIM) has been employed in situations such as these so ports can be more proactive, rather than reactive, when addressing a particular threat or action.
Consider, for example, how a port could react using a PSIM solution when a fast-moving vessel is detected on radar. The alarm sounds as the vessel reaches a certain speed and sends an alarm notification to the PSIM system. The system operator, in turn, is alerted by the alarm and gets all of the details on a detailed map, but can also access information via video, if it is available. Along with the information is a pre-determined list of instructions on how the operator should react: Who to call, what actions to take, etc., in order of how they should be done.
There is still room for the operator to make his or her own assessment, such as dispatching the Coast Guard, but the information is also passed on to a dispatch group for further action. All the notes are recorded and updated as further actions occur and are available for an after-incident report, which can also include any video related to the event.
Similar scenarios can be set up for incidents that occur on land, such as a fire in one of the commercial warehouses at the port. The smoke detector or fire alarm triggers an alert, along with video at the location so the operator can verify that a fire is indeed in progress. If so, he or she is provided with instructions specific to that building and its contents, including which agencies to dispatch.
The advantage here of PSIM is that it is able to bring together disparate systems to a single operations center for an integrated response. Depending on the situation, it can be handled automatically, through a series of instructions, or manually, with the operator making decisions based on what he or she is finding out via alarms, video and other systems. But operators don’t need to train on a dozen or more systems — instead, they learn one that allows them to manage the entire port.
PSIM solutions also take care of storing all the information as it occurs, so the operator isn’t leaving out information when it comes time to prepare a report. In the heat of action, it’s easy to forget a step or two; but the PSIM solution will record the data and make the reporting function not only more accurate but also quicker.
Now a process that used to take days can be handled in a matter of minutes by using a PSIM solution. Additionally, the reports can give insight into incident management that could influence when, where and how to staff the port in the future.
In the end, it’s all about developing a methodology for responding faster and more intelligently and coming away with information that can be useful now and for planning in the future. For ports, that translates into smooth sailing.
Please leave any questions or comments about PSIM in the comments section below.
Just as coffee shops are now ubiquitous in cities large and small, retail banking locations have sprung up on nearly every major street corner — no matter where in the world those roadways are located.
Even with advances in financial services technology that would seem to render the need for in-person banking obsolete, bank branches offer a level of convenience sought by today’s busy consumers while also serving as a high-visibility marketing tool in a competitive marketplace. And so more and more banks are building their brand and service model by adding branches.
But as bank branches have proliferated, the security challenges have evolved as well. Banks require the highest level of security and monitoring, involving multiple cameras, doors and areas with restricted access. One approach would be to address each site individually, setting it up with its own security system under the watch of a dedicated individual.
Alternatively, banks can choose to deploy a single, integrated system that can bring all of these elements together for monitoring and reporting. This makes not only for a cohesive system as the bank expands, but a more cost-effective one as well.
As a growing banking system in Turkey, Odeabank sought a solution that could work with the initial branches it opened in 2012, but also easily serve the additional ones it was planning to bring online over the next year, which would quickly grow to 34 total locations. As a new entrant into Turkey’s banking market, Odeabank needed to move quickly as well, in one instance opening six branches within six weeks.
The bank had many items on its checklist of critical needs, but all of them centered upon integration. One key component was a central monitoring station to view and manage its video, access control, fire and intrusion alarms in real-time from each branch, with the ability to drill down to maps of the floor plans.
On the human resources side, the bank wanted to manage personnel activity from a single location, including controlling the access rights for employees to the various branches through a smart card. Bank security personnel required the ability to centrally manage access control for areas for more than 500 cardholders based on branch location, time and specific zones such as vaults, server rooms and other high security areas. Another related need was that the access system integration for employees also provide time and attendance reports.
Fortunately, Software House’s security and event management system C•CURE 9000 was available to Odeabank as a building block and growth tool, allowing it to check off each item on its list. Now as more branches come into the pipeline, they can be seamlessly integrated for security and HR purposes using the integration platform.
And what worked so well for Odeabank can work for other financial institutions or industries on the move that seek a scalable, integrated solution.
To read more about the integrated solution deployed by Odeabank, click here to download the full case study.
Click here for further infomation on Software House Solutions.
Through the miracle that is modern communications technology, it’s possible to conduct meetings, view products and make deals without ever being in the same room — or even the same city or country.
But there is still much to be said about firsthand, in-person experience, such as seeing a security product demonstrated and having trained personnel walk you through its features, showing you how to maximize the performance and capabilities of the latest camera, NVR or integrated security system.
That’s a key reason why Tyco Security Products recently launched two special initiatives: A state-of-the art Demonstration and Training Centre in Manchester, UK, modeled after an existing facility in Heathrow; and a fleet of mobile demonstration vans.
Through either setting, integrators and their customers can see the products at work and put them to the test. As an installer, it’s critical to understand the various integration capabilities when CCTV, access control and alarm systems come together. And for your customers, the training centre and vans provide a setting in which they can explore the products with you, ask questions and gather information away from the traditional busy trade show stand or in-office or web-based presentation.
Have a specific project in mind and wonder about what devices would be needed and how they will work together? At the demo centre, end users are able to compare and contrast various solutions, using products from Tyco Security Products’ various brands such as American Dynamics, Kantech, Software House, DSC, CEM Systems, Bentel Security and Visonic.
The centres are also available for more specific training programmes or as spaces in which to conduct meetings.
If Heathrow or Manchester isn’t convenient, that’s where the vans come in. Each vehicle is its own showcase of products. While not offering as extensive an array of products as the demonstration and training centres, the vans still provide a host of CCTV and access control solutions ranging from cameras, monitors and recording equipment to plug-and-play security management systems and integrated security platforms.
A new security system, or even an upgrade, is an investment that requires as much information and technical know-how as possible. Through the launch of this newest demo centre and the vans, Tyco is addressing that need for knowledge as well as understanding that time and convenience are key concerns these days.
We invite you to check out the Demonstration and Training Centres in Manchester and Heathrow, or see about booking one of the demo vans for a visit to your office or a customers’ location and spend a little one-on-one time with Tyco Security Products.
Have you noticed how there has been a recent backlash to the “everything bigger is better” thinking that dominated popular culture and business for a time?
Where once products had to be about supersizing and multiplying and expanding the scope, today’s focus is on procuring what best serves our needs — whether that’s in the fast food lane or security installations.
Part of what is driving these changes is a desire for efficiency of both time and money. Why buy big when small can sometimes do the job better? How that translates to our field specifically is with the advent of products such as the single-reader door controller.
In an industry that is often all about scalability and how to make things work by thinking in terms of multiples, there is definitely a time and place for a standalone application like a one-reader door controller.
How many times have you encountered an installation where there is a lone door that needs coverage? Or, perhaps the door’s location is such that it cannot be clustered with others?
The current economy has shifted the focus to efficiency and cost competitiveness, so there are times when it can make perfect sense to invest in a one-reader controller for those instances where one is enough.
The other big push for a single-reader controller is the result of an installation shift towards ubiquitous cat 5/6 wiring. Primarily seen in new construction projects, a separate, dedicated cat 5/6 network cable is installed to each door from a central IT area. This design simplifies the overall installation, especially if Power over Ethernet (PoE) is used, and lowers the installation cost by reducing the amount of localized door device wiring.
Although, still offering key functionality of its two- and four-reader counterparts such as PoE to leverage the existing network infrastructure, NIST-level encryption and local storage capability for up to 400,000 cardholders, the smaller controller offers the utmost in scalability to accommodate any installation layout and any budget. Yes, each controller requires an IP address, but the increased system reliability of having a stand-alone device at each door more than makes up for the possible increase in network management costs.
So when the situation presents itself, it’s OK to think that where two or more are good, one can sometimes be better.
Have you started using a more IP-centric system layout for new projects? Or are your projects more conducive to a centralized approach? Let us know.
It’s a 24-hour, non-stop enterprise with the added challenge of dealing with staff, patients, and visitors in high stress situations on a regular basis. Because of this hospitals and health care settings continue to be one of the most challenging environments in which security professional’s work.
Not only do security professionals need to maintain a sterile environment when working in a hospital as they upgrade existing systems or install new, but often times they are asked to implement an access control or video system with as little disruption as possible to patients, employees and the overall security of the site.
Working in a health care environment is unlike any other setting. According to the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety , healthcare facilities are high-stress environments, requiring special security considerations.
So what is a security professional to do when it comes to embarking on a new security project? What are some of the steps systems integrators and security directors need to take to ensure a smooth transition with minimal interruptions to patients, nurses, doctors and also the security project itself?
Take a look at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale-New Haven Health Systems which recently underwent a large-scale security technology upgrade. It needed to occur with the least amount of disruption yet with the highest level of successful outcome.
Officials for the Connecticut-based, 1,500-bed, Level-I Trauma hospital, world-renowned for outstanding patient care and medical technology, undertook a sweeping overhaul of the hospital’s security technology. This was done to maintain and enhance security and safety throughout the facility and campus while contributing to the premiere standards of patient care.
A significant part of the multi-tiered plan involved updating access control and credentials for more than 12,000 workers in both the hospital’s and the health care system’s network. More than 1,000 doors and readers were impacted.
So how does this occur without a major disruption in the critical workflow that the hospital undertakes each day? Unlike a 9-to-5 business, there are no opportunities to pause the system overnight or on a weekend so everyone can be outfitted with new cards and to swap out all the readers and associated hardware.
To accomplish this comprehensive and multi-stage migration and expansion, a strategy was deployed to run the new platform — Software House’s C•CURE 9000 security and event management system — on the front end using proximity technology, while still running the legacy access control system on the backend to support the existing card technology.
As new people were added to the credentialing system, they were placed, via the HR database, into both the new and the legacy systems so cardholders could use readers from both systems. This way the deployment could happen over time, without interfering with daily activities.
Also behind the scenes, YNHH upgraded its CCTV system to an IP surveillance network, added its first thermal imaging camera, continued its migration to IP cameras and made improvements in its centralized reporting functions by installing the victor Management Software for Unified Security system. And yet, to the doctors, nurses, administrators, and most importantly to the patients, there were minimal outward signs that this was all taking place.
The benefits of improved security are myriad, from the ability to follow in real time, throughout the system, critical visuals, alarms and data; to the cost savings that come from streamlining and centralizing operations; to the ability to better meet the regulatory expectations from the various groups that govern hospital operations.
Yale-New Haven Hospital has always been at the forefront of technology, whether it was the first X-ray in 1896 or the development of the first artificial heart pump in 1949. Now, with its migration to a cutting-edge security network, it continues that long tradition and provides security professionals with great example of a successful security project in a health care setting.
To find out more about the full solution deployed at Yale-New Haven Hospital, click here to download the full case study.
When most people think of aviation security, the first thing that often comes to mind is protecting the commercial airport frequented by everyday people traveling to a vacation or on a business trip. We think of passenger screening machines that check carry-on luggage and scan each human before he or she can pass into a secure terminal.
Yet there are other segments of the aviation industry that require the same rigorous security standards as our public airport facilities. Terminals operated by private aviation transportation companies also need to follow strict guidelines to ensure their facilities are secure inside and out.
Today, security at aviation facilities has become an all-encompassing endeavor, with the integration of video surveillance, access control and intrusion taking center stage.
Rules and regulations mean that these facilities need to provide the highest level of security possible for both passengers and employees.
Customers across multiple markets, including aviation, commercial, healthcare and government markets, continue to look for integrated solutions that bring together access, video and intrusion into a single management platform.
IHS’s latest report on Security Systems Integration found the world market to be worth more than $54 billion in 2012, with a forecasted CAGR of 9.9% to 2016.
According to IHS, the reasons for moving towards an integrated system will vary by vertical market, but similar unique drivers can be found across each vertical market. The commonality is that the integration of disparate security systems onto a single management platform and a common user interface increases the functionality and capabilities of a system.
A perfect example of an integrated security approach at an aviation facility would be the newly integrated, network-based system of Cougar Helicopters, Inc. The Canadian helicopter transportation company was incorporated in 1984 and has become the leading transportation source for service providers of offshore gas and oilrigs along the North Atlantic Coast.
The company’s new and unique Halifax facility includes a helicopter hanger, pilot lounge and office for Cougar employees, as well as a passenger screening and boarding area. The terminal also connects to Cougar’s St. John’s facility, which houses the company’s operational control center that follows all aircraft throughout the world and provides oversight for its security operations.
Cougar realized that they needed to establish a truly integrated, network-based system in which they could manage their intrusion, access control and surveillance through a single interface. As a result they selected several solutions from Tyco Security Products with the Kantech EntraPass Corporate Edition serving as its security management platform. The system connects with a HDVR Hybrid Video Recorder from American Dynamics and a DSC PowerSeries Alarm Panel for the intrusion system.
The collaboration between access, video and intrusion permits the IT department of the St. John’s facility to gather information as to what may have triggered an alarm from one workstation as opposed to going to multiple locations to locate the issue. They can also manage access to controlled areas such as the pilot’s lounge and general entry to the Halifax facility from one workstation.
As the security market continues on its path of technological evolution, security professionals are deploying integrated solutions in growing numbers because of the advantages of managing security from a single interface. The strenuous demands and regulations at play in aviation security necessitate nothing less.
Do you want to learn more about Cougar Helicopters approach for an integrated security system? Click here to read the case study story about this project.