Working with the IT Department

   THE SECURITY INDUSTRY is constantly changing and a recent, increasing trend is the presence of IT departments in all aspects of security issues. From control of access systems and video transmission methods to data storage systems – IT is also holding a larger influence over the security budget. Integrators now play a role in navigating between different departments in a company to incorporate them all under a unified security plan. How are integrators negotiating between IT and other departments and what should they be aware of to ensure a smooth installation?

Communication is a key factor when dealing with different departments to ensure that each group has its needs met, while also being aware of their role in the security plan. It is important to ask for each department’s expectations when it comes to security, so that the plan can be made to specifically address its needs. What does the CEO expect from security? How does the parking department plan to use cameras? What do security officers expect their role to include? What does IT want to control?

Create a report on the security issues the company faces and discuss the needs of each department, defining their roles in the security plan. During the presentation, ensure all departments meet at the same so that each can understand what the other is doing. Clear understanding of the plan will ensure its correct implementation.
IT departments generally know the products available to them in the industry and what standards to use, so it is important to be educated in the field and speak a language that they are comfortable with. They will trust an opinion that is informed and knowledgeable and it will foster a better working partnership.

Concerns from IT staff generally revolve around server issues. Security, bandwidth and redundancy top the list of frequently mentioned concerns. Consider an incident in which an employee is laid off, but forgets to turn in the identification card, which allows entry into a building or parking lot. This issue concerns various departments, from human resources and parking to security and IT. An integrated, one-click solution could cancel the employee’s card functionality when human resources terminates the employee from its system. The employee would then automatically be denied entrance to the parking lot or any buildings and the identification card rendered ineffective, easing concerns for the security and parking staff.

Network bandwidth is an issue of key importance to the smooth functioning of corporate servers. IT staff are usually not eager to install new technologies that utilize significant bandwidth. Attempting to install IP cameras on the network may be a potential source of conflict. A solution that may work for both IT and security staff is to install an additional, separate network specifically for security equipment, which does not impact the existing corporate system. Independence will increase stability for both networks, streamline the troubleshooting process and ensure that each system functions optimally – the corporate network will have plenty of bandwidth and the security network can transmit video at a higher quality.

Server redundancy is another main concern of the IT department when talking to security integrators. The IT department’s priority is to ensure the integrity of the corporate network. Integrators should discuss workarounds and fail-safe measures.

As the industry changes, so must the integrator’s role. It is important for an integrator to not just be an expert in security topics, but proficient in IT terminology, creating unified security plans and enabling clear communication between different departments in a company.

Steve Morefield is president of Firstline Security Systems Inc., Anaheim, Calif. For more info, visit