Breaking Down Security Silos

The case for physical security information management solutions


The growth of the IT-centric enterprise and distributed computing environments have also driven the disappearance of the physical perimeter, calling for a more tightly-integrated security system to manage and deal with both physical and IT threats.

The Convergence of Physical and IT Security

The simple reality is that now that the world has changed, you have to adapt how you deal with security threats. We've seen a significant shift in the security field - a convergence of traditionally separate physical and IT security systems. In late 2006, Lehman Brothers indicated that the $150 billion physical security market is undergoing a tectonic shift, driven largely by a sense of urgency around security and integration with IT security systems.

In addition, according to market research firm The Freedonia Group, the global market for private security products and systems is forecast to grow 8 percent annually through 2010, reaching $85 billion. Take the Secure Border Initiative, also referred to as SBInet, for example - some estimate the value of the multi-year contract to be more than $2.5 billion, which will be used to install new tracking sensors, cameras and communications equipment to build an integrated electronic surveillance system along the U.S. border.

The SBInet program is just one large scale example - enterprises and municipalities around the globe are investing in these systems. However, at the same time, they won't abandon their existing network infrastructure. With more than 90 percent of the installed base of security cameras being analog video, organizations must now weave in new digital camera technologies without giving up on their previous analog investments.

In the surveillance world, where analyst firm Research and Markets expects the market for video surveillance equipment to grow by 37 percent by 2009, companies that converge physical and IT security are able to take the blinders off as they deploy a complete network of surveillance technologies that communicate in real-time to deliver operations center personnel true situational awareness. And the convergence continues at multiple levels - analog and digital video; video technologies such as DVRs and NVRs; sensors and access control; external data sources such as weather reports, crime stats and map data; and IT security in general are quickly being assimilated into the overall technology infrastructure. All of these converged security technologies can produce a greater amount of information from which to make security decisions.

To illustrate, consider these key technology convergence issues organizations face as they strive to meet their primary mission of protecting people, assets and infrastructure:

• Analog to Digital Migration - Organizations have to manage a large installed base of analog (more than 90 percent) plus fast-emerging digital solutions
• Multiple Management Systems - Every product and system has a proprietary standalone management console
• Data Overload - There are too many cameras to monitor and too many data sources
• Disparate Equipment and Systems - To date, systems such as surveillance, access control and information security have been built in silos and do not interoperate
• Proactive Mitigation - Forensics only help "solve" the crime, they do not accomplish the primary mission of protection
• Legacy Equipment and Networks - Fork-lift upgrades are unrealistic and simply aren't acceptable
• Archive and Storage - Legacy tape systems are not suitable for fast data retrieval or event correlation
• Lack of Standards - Control plane systems do not operate on known standards

The shift has already begun - the first phase to converging physical and IT security combines the integration of analog and video sources with other physical security data feeds, event correlation, incident response, collaboration and mobility to have a better view of your security posture that produces real-time situational awareness security personnel can act on.

From here, it is crucial to be able to manage, correlate and analyze the information to drive the right response, and this is where physical security information management enters the picture.