The Human Element
Although equipment failure is often cited as a major factor in breaches of security, it is impossible to ignore another significant element — human error. Human error can include lack of judgment, inefficient response time, improper escalation of issues or inaccurate reporting. The good news is that advances in integrated technology are helping to reduce such errors.
System integration is changing the face of security and redefining roles in the security industry. Unfortunately, as it is a relatively new phenomenon, integration is often misrepresented and misunderstood. To clarify, here is a high-level definition of integration:
Integration is the interaction of sharing information, databases, features and functionalities between systems, computers, hardware, devices and humans to effectively complete a task or group of tasks for efficient and productive completion. Benefits of integration include:
Eliminating the need for manual interaction between systems, computers, hardware and devices by users;
Expediting user response by processing information between multiple platforms;
Providing information quickly and efficiently to determine level of needed response; and
Reducing TCO (total cost of ownership) and maximizing ROI (return on investment).
The ability to monitor, control and administrate multiple sites from one location from one graphical user interface (GUI) can bring tremendous value to any security operation. Integration enables simultaneous monitoring of cameras, intrusion alarm systems and access control, and it helps manage building control systems, such as heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting. Sophisticated integration plans can help manage traffic management systems, emergency warning systems and even SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, which are used primarily in power, water and sewer plants to control conditions and equipment.
Let’s look at a few examples of how technological advances have helped to overcome the “human element,”
- Quick and efficient training
Integration enables supervisory personnel to quickly and efficiently train security staff on the operation and administration of multiple systems, across multiple sites. Instead of having to familiarize themselves with numerous interfaces and complexities, personnel are now being trained on how to use a single GUI to control and manage an entire security environment. Expediting the training process helps to get trained professionals on the job sooner while enabling organizations to reduce costs associated with extensive training programs and complex administration.
- Automating security responses
Because system integration enables the automation of policies and procedures (by way of predetermined actions displayed on the monitoring screens), it helps to create order in often chaotic emergency situations. With clearly defined roles and procedures, personnel are able to operate at a more strategic level, maximize resources and respond to events quickly and efficiently. Let’s say, for example, a fire breaks out on the fifth floor of an office building. Video surveillance cameras associated with the fifth floor can be displayed automatically at a central monitoring point, along with standard evacuation procedures. By adhering to the specific procedures, security personnel can perform the necessary functions in the most efficient manner possible.
- Performing multiple functions at once
Advancements in technology enable operators to perform multiple functions simultaneously. If, for example, a problem employee is fired, security personnel are able to leverage integrated security technology to terminate a number of privileges and functions at once, including facility access, parking, payroll and even network access. The ability to perform multiple operations at the same time increases efficiency and helps mitigate risk. Had the operator manually terminated the privileges one at a time and mistakenly forgotten about network access, the problem employee could still gain access to corporate documents and other proprietary information.
- Providing accurate audit reports
In numerous cases, advanced integrated technology will force security personnel to enter an incident report in the database before the event can be officially closed. Accurate incident reports are absolutely critical for three reasons: incident verification, information dissemination and issue escalation. By properly submitting, tracking and analyzing audit reports, security personnel are able to verify events in a timely matter and learn how to prevent them in the future. Let’s say, for example, someone slips and falls in a parking facility but the event goes unreported. If a lawsuit is filed and the person who was supposed to file the audit report does not remember any of the event details, the owner of the garage could potentially be responsible for all damages.
Any time technology can be leveraged to automate processes and procedures and simplify the operating environment, it’s important to take advantage.
James Gompers is founder of Gompers Technologies Design Group and has more than 20 years of expertise in the security industry as a consultant from the end-user perspective.