Buildings, like the organizations they house, come in all shapes and sizes, which means there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be popped into place to meet the needs and requirements of every one. Larger enterprise companies, as well as healthcare and higher education facilities, contain large amounts of data, assets and people that must be kept safe within their barriers. These types of organizations require a number of scalable solutions to help keep their systems and people secure. More so today than ever before, organizations are looking for solutions that can integrate new systems with the old, or ways to replace the old with new technologies.
Given the number of incidents on school campuses, schools today are reprioritizing necessities, and the demand for increased lockdown capability, access control and additional security have become a tremendous undertaking for security professionals. However, while the focus of protecting students, staff and faculty has become a top priority for educational institutions, securing patient information and other confidential data are also critical. The ability to integrate various alerts, controls and surveillance into the operations of an organization allows security professionals to gain greater situational awareness and actionable intelligence to help ensure the security of the people who come and go within their campuses and organizations.
The security marketplace is changing, as is the nature of risk. This column outlines the importance of integration with access control solutions, and how facilities can gain cost savings by implementing these solutions, as well as other important integration pieces that should be brought into the fold, such as video surveillance and emergency notifications.
Access Control and Data Integration
Access control systems are one of the first steps to ensuring that people can be locked in or kept out in the event of a potentially threatening situation, or for day-to-day operations. Access control enables organizations to tailor access privileges based on the individual, ensuring all building or room access is assigned appropriately. Some organizations opt for wireless locks, which are a cost-effective way to add access control solutions. Wireless locks eliminate the added cost associated with the installation of hardware and additional wiring.
Access control solutions are fully integrated with today’s video management systems (VMS) to provide full situational awareness and allow security personnel to monitor the comings and goings of individuals. Integrating access control solutions with human resources departments and data integration has become an important aspect in driving permissions for employees, students and visitors.
For example, higher education facilities keep a wealth of data on students, incorporating information about meal plans, housing information, class schedules, enrollment information and even track which clubs a student may be part of – all of which can be used to grant access or permissions to various parts of campus. More specifically, a business major may be granted access to the College of Business computer lab, while keeping other students out, by simply using the student’s ID card that also allows him or her access to a dorm or cafeteria. In some cases, students can use this same card to reserve other rooms on a college campus in which to study, conduct group work or meet with faculty. Integration between school’s event management and human resources data programs can streamline this access control, saving administrators valuable time and resources that come with manual data entry.
Additionally, emergency communication between organizations and emergency first responders through access control and VMS has become more mainstream. Next-level notification allows organizations to fully integrate all systems and gives them the information they need to communicate with both internal and external emergency responders in the event of a situation.
As our culture increasingly relies on mobile devices, many organizations are moving toward the use of mobile applications for security professionals. Mobile applications allow security personnel access to grant permissions and view live surveillance from their mobile devices, such as tablets or smartphones. Mobile applications also allow security professionals to control systems remotely without client software in place, which not only is a cost-saving measure, but gives these organizations the flexibility to provide access control in an ever-changing environment as well.
Building a Solid Solution
For an organization to realize reduce costs in security solutions, building and security managers must focus on a solution’s efficiency, effectiveness, scalability and adaptability.
Efficiency. Today’s organizations must look at solutions that are easy to use, manage and maintain for the end user. User interfaces that integrate a number of solutions into one platform allow for centralized visibility across multiple controls and help to drive productive response to threats that may occur at any given moment, allowing security personnel to detect threats quickly and respond promptly.
Effectiveness – Products that are not able to consistently prevent known and unknown threats can ultimately cost an organization. When identifying solutions that may work for an organization, security managers should seek out solutions with a strong track record and background. Have the solutions been successfully deployed across other organizations with a similar structure? Can these solutions work together effectively to provide a comprehensive picture of the incident and thwart off threats?
Scalability – It is important that solutions are able to grow to meet the demands of the organization. Healthcare facilities, large businesses and university campuses can be widespread across an area, a region or across the globe, and the solutions must be flexible and able to keep up with these growing organizations.
Adaptability – Security technology must remain applicable despite changing conditions and environments. Flexible configuration options and seamless integration with other solutions are cost-reduction initiatives the organization must seriously consider when identifying potential security solutions.
Ultimately, organizations must evaluate how well potential security solutions align to meet the overall security goals of the business, facility or organization. Today’s end users require more than just a product – organizations must seek out manufacturers who are able to offer continued support and provide value-added services and solutions as they grow.
Mitchell Kane is President of Vanderbilt Industries.
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