Security technologies constantly push the boundaries of what’s possible, from sophisticated identification features on cameras to alarms that can detect hazardous chemicals.
The integrated, whole-building security technologies showcased at the Global Security Exchange (GSX) show this week allow facilities managers to do more with fewer headaches by eliminating redundancy and making sure your building’s security products can speak to each other.
“Facilities managers are being overwhelmed by the art of the possible,” says Luis Rodriguez, director of product management, Internet of Things Ecosystem, for Honeywell. “What we’re seeing is the theme of integration, not just to simplify roles but to reduce the complexity of the initial technologies you put in. Integration lets you put more in but keeps things more simple.”
Here are a few of today’s top trends in security integration.
1. Cloud-Based Access
You don’t have to pay for someone to watch your camera feeds 24/7. Security systems that are accessible from the cloud let you look at surveillance footage and check out alarms from wherever you are—an important feature when it’s the middle of the night and an intruder alarm is going off.
“Facilities managers are being overwhelmed by the art of the possible. What we’re seeing is the theme of integration, not just to simplify roles but to reduce the complexity of the initial technologies you put in. Integration lets you put more in but keeps things more simple.” - Luis Rodriguez
“In one console, you can start managing doors, intrusion alarms and looking at video,” Rodriguez explains. “You don’t have to make any calls. You pull out your tablet and look to see what’s going on, maybe check out the video camera. Maybe you need to let someone in because their key isn’t working, but you know they’re supposed to be there.”
[Related topic: Security vs. Access in Healthcare Facilities]
2. Cybersecurity for Facilities Managers
Cybersecurity is traditionally under the IT department’s jurisdiction, and for good reason. Facilities managers aren’t trained to repel hackers and judge the strength of their organization’s network.
But IT and facilities professionals are becoming increasingly aligned when it comes to cybersecurity, because it now affects both departments. The Internet of Things devices used by the facilities side of the business must be just as secure as the equipment the IT department puts in—if it’s not, it could endanger the whole organization.
“The last thing you want to do is bring in a solution and then have it be hacked. What good is a solution if it can be hacked?” says Rodriguez.
Look for vendors that can update your system’s firmware remotely, Rodriguez suggests. It’s one less moving part to keep track of on your preventive maintenance schedule, and it ensures that your cybersecurity measures are always up to date.
Security systems aren’t just for intruders anymore. Rodriguez describes how security infrastructure can inform other parts of your business, like vendor management and smoke detection. An integrated security solution provides ways to monitor things you typically wouldn’t assign a human staffer to watch.
“Think about an airport. The facilities management crew is worried about the wrong person getting in to update equipment. Or what if one of my maintenance crew people gets laid off?” posits Rodriguez. “They need to be cut off from the system immediately. Or say you’ve got a camera in a room with a lot of heavy equipment. What if you use the camera to make sure you aren’t seeing a bunch of smoke before the smoke alarms go off, or you start hearing weird sounds [from equipment]? This is where integration becomes incredibly important.”
[On topic: Why It’s Time to Converge Physical Security and Cybersecurity]
On the vendor management side, you can use your cameras to make sure vendors are doing what they say they’re doing, Rodriguez says. You can save money by double-checking vendors’ accounts of work completed against what you can see on the screen.
“Are they just pretending to change the filter or charging more than they’re supposed to?” Rodriguez says. “You can regain some money. Even simple things like that are getting more sophisticated as we move forward.”
Start your security system upgrade by figuring out where your biggest pain points are, Rodriguez recommends. Identify places where you can use an upgraded, integrated security platform to find savings opportunities.
“What are the issues you’re trying to solve for? A lot of times, it’s cost,” Rodriguez says. “Facilities management is one of the biggest costs, and so is cleaning a building. Use some of the cameras in the building for people counting to figure out whether a room or floor was used, or how much it was used. Now you can use it to get feedback. Keep your costs down and show that you’re doing that over time.”
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