Moving towards a unified security platform

unified security platform

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How can mass transit agencies benefit from unification? Jon Hill, Account Executive, Genetec takes a closer look.

The mass transit industry is ripe for modernisation, with many transit agencies still reliant on siloed legacy physical security systems that limit their options and compromise efficiency.

Great Britain’s railway network, for example, is the oldest in the world.

It consists of 2,570 stations and an estimated 75,000 security cameras, all managed by a combination of Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies (TOC’s).

The vast majority of TOC’s will be running their own system which they are then responsible for managing, maintaining and updating.

That’s before we even begin to consider a whole host of other systems such as access control and intrusion detection.

Historically, these too have typically been deployed on a standalone basis.

That means it’s not long before operators find themselves hampered in their attempts to accomplish relatively simple tasks that involve having to master and switch been multiple disconnected systems.

In a previous era, this way of operating was a necessity given the technology options available at the time.

However, if they could start from scratch and design a brand new system today, then it would undoubtedly look very different.

It would be more of a ‘security as a service’ model that unlocks ongoing efficiencies through centralised monitoring, video analytics and the cloud.

As older transit vehicles and technologies are phased out, there’s an opportunity to re-strategise, both on platform/track side and on-vehicle.

The focus must shift towards interconnectivity and how best to deploy and manage physical security across all locations of the transit network.

That transition won’t, in fact, can’t, happen all at once.

But it does have to begin with a conscious decision to put the underlying platform for the unification of physical security operations in place.

Unification is the process of being united or made into a whole.

Organisationally, unification is critical to onboard new technological solutions that impact all aspects of transit operations.

And, while a unified internal structure can help with the deployment of new technologies, technology itself can also help drive organisational unification, particularly for security.

Transit agencies and unified security platforms

A unified transit security solution is different from integrated systems. At its core, it is a suite of products developed as one solution.

This means a mass transit agency can standardise on a single security platform across the organisation.

They can then slowly begin to merge all independent systems onto this new platform and manage security across their entire operation as one. The benefits of unification in mass transit are far reaching:

Unified onboard and facility data

Stop wasting time collecting onboard video manually or using separate data sources to build a timeline of events. One unified head-end platform simplifies operations by compiling and synchronising data, whether onboard vehicles or across transit facilities.

Independent and centralised access

Transit agencies can rely on a centralised team to monitor and manage security across the organisation while still giving specific departments access to their own systems and devices.

Quicker access to new technologies

A unified security solution allows mass transit agencies to keep existing devices and add new technologies over time. Agencies can also add licenses and try out new built-in features and applications as needed, without compatibility issues.

Less training and maintenance

Mass transit operators only need to learn the ins and outs of a single security solution. And, those who handle maintenance also have an easier job because all system updates and configurations are managed within the same platform.

Reduced operational costs

Centralised control, more efficient processes, less training and maintenance help lower operational costs. And there’s only one software maintenance agreement to renew every year.

Streamlined, more efficient processes

Using a single platform, transit agencies can empower operators with automated response protocols to enhance emergency response. No matter where an incident took place, investigators will be able to retrieve evidence quickly and share it with authorities securely.

Increased customer service

Keeping customers happy and safe can be a catalyst to generating more revenue. Sharing video access with other operational departments can ensure that trains or buses arrive on time, safety procedures are followed and inquiries about lost or stolen items are resolved faster.

The most important step

Mass transit agencies around the world that have already begun unifying their security solutions are thinking long term and taking a phased approach.

But, the most critical step is the first one – forming a centralised team to oversee the unification project.

This team brings everyone together so technology can come together too.

They become the central point of contact for all departments, contractors and service providers who are managing physical security.

They oversee the higher level vision for the unified mass transit solution, while also considering the needs of every division within the organisation.

Considering the future of unified transit security

This team’s objectives can also include laying the foundation for the IT infrastructure that will support the unified mass transit solution and future expansion.

Part of this means asking – ‘what do we want our physical security platform to look like in five, ten or fifteen years from now and beyond?’

This is when the open architecture of the unified platform will come into play.

The openness of the platform makes a big difference in how easily a transit agency can accommodate and adapt to changing needs well into the future.

It allows the team to stay flexible and access the latest and greatest innovations, including anything from new perimeter analytics to automated drone technologies.

Final thoughts

Moving towards a unified security platform can seem daunting to mass transit agencies.

By creating a dedicated team, and taking things one step at a time, any transit agency can start modernising security and increasing collaboration in ways that will pay off down the road.

Setting up the right IT infrastructure and choosing an open platform makes the investment go further.

With all this in place, it becomes easier to start merging existing cameras and devices onto the new security platform as well as bringing onboard vehicle systems and other technologies into the bigger security picture over time.

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