Paul Dodds, Country Manager UK & Ireland at Genetec discusses the merits of utilising a unified security solution.
Becoming a smart enterprise, streamlining operations and promoting agility are becoming high priorities for many organisations and physical security is a tool that, when used correctly, can help achieve these objectives. Video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, communications, license plate recognition and analytics are all key components of a modern security solution. Recent advances in IP technology has meant that when they work together properly in a unified way, they can not only secure a business, but yield actionable data that can be used to optimise an organisation and improve efficiency. So, when selecting a security product to protect a business, businesses not only need to invest in a system that works now, but a solution that has the flexibility to address company needs moving forward – in a changing security landscape.
The physical security solution should be unified
While the security industry (like the rest of the software industry) has worked to develop a variety of methods to bring separate physical security solutions together via integration, often the result remains a set of disparate systems with limited communication and interoperability among them. Integrating separate security functions like access control and video surveillance using software development kits (SDK) or application programming interface (API) programming only is limited and can be a costly approach.
Unification, however, takes stand-alone components of a security solution beyond just being loosely or superficially connected via SDK or API. A unified physical security platform is a comprehensive software solution that manages the different components of a security environment through a centralised open-architecture built to provide complete access to all data. This unified platform goes above and beyond tagging or bookmarking video when an access control event occurs, or offering the capability to unlock an access-controlled door from within the video surveillance user interface. It’s a platform that combines information from all available sensors to provide greater awareness to operators. This not only means showing video feeds when alerts are triggered by an access control system but also being able to see data from all related sensors in a single click, from anywhere in the system.
A unified solution is developed from square one to not only work together but to purposefully intertwine functionality to offer a powerful user experience that includes built-in reporting and alarm management functionalities. With unification, it’s possible to configure and manage video cameras, access-controlled doors, print badges, monitor intrusion panels and have everything at the security person’s disposal to ensure a high level of functionality from within a single software platform. For example, Security Center, manufactured by Genetec Inc, offers the only unified platform built from the ground-up; and is coded together for seamless interaction and workflow right out of the box. With a unified solution like Security Center, employees only have to get to know and use one system. Administrators save time configuring the system and only have one manufacturer to contact with any questions or issues, despite using security technology from multiple providers.
Cybersecurity is another issue that, given regular high-profile cyberattacks and ransomware, has become a central concern for all business leaders. It can be hard to maintain cybersecurity preparedness when you’re relying on a variety of vendors and platforms in an integrated system, because new upgrades can wreak havoc and make disparate integrated systems incompatible. However, with a unified solution, cybersecurity is applied – and updated – across all physical security components to mitigate against cyber incidents. A solution like this will not only show users the status of these endpoints, but have configuration and updates built-in. As a result, system maintenance becomes more seamless, costs are reduced and readiness is retained.
Unification bolsters more than security
A unified system also promotes agility throughout an organisation, as by its very nature it’s flexible and can be expanded with new components to meet a businesses’ changing needs. It is not an all or nothing solution as the platform allows businesses to start with VMS functions for instance and allows them to add access control, ANPR, analytics and third-party applications etc. as and when business requirements change. Advances in analytics and add-ons can also be more quickly and easily incorporated into unified security platforms, which yield strategic and actionable business intelligence that can be used to improve operations and increase ROI.
For example, a new trend has emerged in the retail industry, partly to counter declining sales, where companies use their security systems not only to aid loss prevention but to optimise their stores as well. This is done when the system takes the information that security system is already gathering and feeds the data into analytics software. For example, the firms can take the video from surveillance systems and use it to derive consumer insights. These insights could be things like visitor counting, conversion rates, queue management, heat maps, directional analysis and facial recognition. This type of information can provide retailers with the necessary intelligence that allows them to better understand consumers, make real-time informed decisions, like required staff numbers or store layouts and increase consumer engagement as a result. Operations can be made more sustainable and therefore profitable.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, the security systems organisations decide to employ can drive value in unexpected areas of a business. Choosing a unified system not only brings together all security system components in a single software platform, but can also open up a new world of collecting and using actionable business data that can greatly enhance operations and boost customer engagement – while making the organisation more agile.
End users are demanding simplicity and greater functionality in the systems they choose to employ. Unification is the superior method of achieving seamless, comprehensive physical security. True unification takes stand-alone components of a security environment as well as plug-ins beyond just being connected. A unified system provides one platform, built from the ground up, to work harmoniously together.
This article was published in the December 2019 edition of International Security Journal. To pick up your FREE digital issue, please click here