Note that the concept of “high initial cost” is relative and changing. Due to technology advancements and cost trends, today $3,000 will buy more video storage capacity than $30,000 could have purchased 10 years ago. The above attributes are not generally applicable to the previous generation of security technology, but they are applicable to the networked systems of today and tomorrow — if we plan, design and manage them correctly.
In an evolving corporate network, fully functioning network switches are replaced (or upgraded) when the value offered by newer technology features warrants it. For example, many corporate networks have had their network switches and routers replaced or upgraded to provide Voice over IP (VoIP) capabilities, due to the tremendous cost savings involved (not for the network itself but for telephone communications) as well as for the additional features and integration available over traditional PBX phone service. VoIP switch and router functionality, in and of itself, adds no value to the network infrastructure; however, when used in conjunction with network telephones, it establishes a significantly higher ROI for the network infrastructure.
Similarly, the physical security systems infrastructures that we put in place now will, in the very near future, have perfectly working components replaced or upgraded to provide new functionality and integration capabilities that support improved risk mitigation.
Conversely, the integration and interoperability of new technology will allow some components to be used beyond their ordinary life or capacity. For example, it costs less money now to upgrade the storage capacity of DVRs whose hard drives are reaching their end of life (i.e. failing), using a common storage system known as an IP SAN (Storage Area Network), than it does to upgrade the individual drives themselves. Furthermore, it fixes the situation that some cameras have higher storage requirements than others — resulting in some DVRs having insufficient storage capacity, and some having too much — for the cameras that are connected to them. Shared common storage (which in large corporate information systems is called storage infrastructure), provides improved capabilities for less cost than the internal storage of individual DVRs.
The new generation of security systems and components are designed to function as part of an overall technology infrastructure. This requires that we change our thinking accordingly when planning, designing, maintaining and improving our security technology, to get the greatest financial and security ROI from our technology investments.
Creating and managing a physical security systems infrastructure has impacts on all of the following:
• Technical assessment of existing technology;
• Financial assessment of existing technology;
• Strategic technology planning;
• Evaluation and selection of new technology;
• How any ROI case is developed — immediate and long term;
• Evaluation and selection of systems integrators;
• Partnering considerations with solution providers;
• Relationship with and support from the IT department;
• Skill and training requirements of security systems managers;
• Training requirements of security systems end-users; and
• Education of security program and project budget stakeholders.
It takes a little getting used to, but once you have adopted the infrastructure perspective, it is hard to go back to thinking about technology the “old way.” Infrastructure thinking is just part of the evolving subject known as “systems thinking,” which will be the subject of a future article.
Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities (www.go-rbcs.com). Mr. Bernard has also provided pivotal strategic and technical advice in the security and building automation industries for more than 20 years. He is founder and publisher of “The Security Minute” 60-second newsletter (www.TheSecurityMinute.com).