Through The Looking Glass: Future-Proofing Your Security Investment

old-cctv_204779083By Michael Brookes.

The time has come to upgrade that outdated security system you have been operating for what seems like an eternity. You have done your homework and built your business case, and you have finally been granted approval to proceed. As your mind fast-forwards with visions of an intuitive security-centric design, multi-camera views, synchronised and instant playback, and motion searching for improved forensic analysis, you know that your security operators will be able to better manage threats and reduce reaction time. As you head for the door to share the great news with your colleagues, you hear a sound, the corporate bean-counter saying “Before you get too excited, I want you to make sure this system is future-proof. We don’t want to be doing this again in two years.” There is always a catch!

So what does future-proof really mean? A quick look at the online dictionary defines future-proof as being protected from consequences in the future, especially pertaining to a technology, that protects it from early obsolescence. With the rapid rate of change in technology, how can you then expect to future-proof your security system?

To start with, your new security solution should be flexible. By deploying a system that subscribes to global standards for open integration you will be able to take advantage of either a dedicated or existing IT infrastructure. This makes it easier to interoperate with other business systems, and is adaptable to future requirements that may arise. The ability to integrate with third-party software and hardware field devices promotes freedom of choice in deploying a comprehensive solution that can be delivered in any combination for increased workplace performance. An investment in an open integration platform is a forward thinking investment, providing you with the power to design your technology roadmap to the unique operational requirements of your business.

New capabilities in service-oriented architecture (SOA) enable the rapid development of applications and real-time open communication between critical systems over your network. Enterprise Web Services make it easier to develop custom applications to meet your facility’s unique operational challenges. Features include:

  • Improve ROI over life cycle – Converged solutions reduce complexity, often resulting in lower operational and maintenance costs.
  • Investment longevity – IP networking provides a longer-lasting open system.
  • Flexibility to expand – Integrating with open system protocols supports future system growth to optimise ROI.

Business resilience is another key consideration in future-proofing your security system. Business resilience is the ability an organisation has to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding people, assets and overall brand equity. A solution that is designed with high-availability architecture can insulate you from single-point-failure and can be distributed across multiple facilities to promote maximum system up-time. Business resilience goes a step beyond disaster recovery by offering post-disaster strategies to avoid costly downtime, shore up vulnerabilities, and maintain business operations in the face of additional, unexpected breaches.

Response is better supported because networked physical security solutions are collaborative. Collaboration drives operational flexibility. For example, security personnel are able to view, monitor and respond to incidents from anywhere and from any device. Prevention of loss, connecting physical and logical IT security can be more easily and quickly supported, and policies can be implemented on a global basis.

Deterrence is better supported because Network Physical Security solutions are more scalable, and can be quickly deployed with thousands of endpoints using an existing converged IP network infrastructure at a lower cost. Network Physical Security solutions also make better and more flexible use of human resources.

Detection is better supported because Network Physical Security solutions enable open standards, APIs, and eco-system partners and applications. The end result is that new common-off-the-shelf applications and capabilities can be more easily and quickly deployed, further driving business results and competitive advantage.

Network physical security solutions are more adaptive and never obsolete, thus reducing the need to overhaul infrastructure to upgrade technology. Increasing focus on developing standards in the IT world enables end-users to upgrade technology easily, be it a wired or wireless environment.

Designing a security solution with this in mind means that you will need to consider a broader section of the business to fully understand what is required to protect your people, business and data. This deeper engagement with other stakeholders is also useful to identify what other requirements of the business can be met. It is important to understand how a business can leverage its investment in technology not just today, but five or 10 years from now. This can only be achieved by understanding the vision of the business and the other departments so that their needs can be catered for in the future.

Video surveillance systems with embedded content analytics can help the business collect marketing data, and improve operational efficiency. Data collection around retail spaces in particular can be used to see what kiosks and stores attract shoppers’ attention and help increase revenues in stores. Similarly, digital signage presents the opportunity for businesses to bring information to life in new and exciting ways. In public spaces or within an organisation, it is a way of enhancing an environment, improving communication and influencing customer behaviour. Whether across an airport, a university campus, a stadium or a retail branch network, it is easy to connect and centrally control large, disparate systems, yet tailor content and messages to specific locations. This is driving additional revenue streams by providing dynamic content to help customers get directions and maps to local attractions, look for a place to eat or go shopping, review area entertainment options, check in for their flights and print boarding passes, even access the internet if they want to. This same signage can integrate with the security system and act as an emergency warning display if an evacuation is ever required.

So it seems that future-proofing your security system is actually possible; however, it requires focus in a number of areas.

Organisational alignment
By obtaining a thorough understanding of the organisational tolerance to risk, the depth of security requirements can be ascertained. This needs to take into account the security requirements at a business unit level.

Roles and responsibilities for security need to be defined throughout the organisation with involvement from physical security personnel, IT, business units, and vendors.

Process alignment
The security requirements of business processes and operations should be defined, with enterprise-wide security solutions being integrated into processes and applications. Process owners and users need to be made aware of the importance of security.

Strategies and architectures
Security strategies and architectures need to be clear and actionable, with a level of flexibility to address potential changes to the organisation or technology.

Technology integration
It is important to be involved in selecting the technology solutions to ensure that organisational requirements are met. It is wise to pilot selected technology to validate the solution. Once validated, the solution should be implemented in phases, allowing for the highest priority areas to be dealt with first, with ongoing testing of performance and functionality.

A roll-out strategy should be developed that allows for the solution to be deployed in phases. It is vital to ensure that all of the stakeholders are adequately trained in order to gain their continued buy-in. Once rolled out, ownership should be transferred to the appropriate business units or functions.

Ongoing maintenance of corporate security management requires adherence to the initial business policies and procedures. Regular audits should be performed to confirm that policies and rules are being abided by, and the solutions modified in line with changes to the business.

There are clear benefits to be derived from an active and strategic approach to corporate security management and the implementation of a converged security infrastructure. Organisations can take a holistic view towards risk management and compliance, whilst reaping the rewards of systems that have lower costs of administration and support.

Organisations seeking to embark on such a strategy need to be clear on the outcomes expected, and ensure that buy-in is gained at all levels; these strategies need to be closely aligned with business objectives, and not be viewed as simply a security project. A phased approach should be taken and appropriate time allocated to the process. Key objectives should be set to measure the benefits of each stage as it is rolled out.

It is important to work with organisations capable of delivering comprehensive and best-of-breed security solutions. This provides the benefits of accountability, risk mitigation and knowledge transfer, not typically available from a multi-vendor approach.

Michael Brookes is the Regional Leader, Marketing & Strategic Development – Pacific, Honeywell Building Solutions.