As with other emerging technologies, there are some disadvantages to biometrics, with the most apparent being the installation cost. Along with being a more costly solution than traditional alternatives, biometrics also suffer from a certain degree of unreliability. Sicknesses, such as diabetes, and age can alter a person’s iris or voice and can lead to a false rejection. Moreover, injuries to the hands can temporarily restrict employees from using fingerprinting systems. Another, often overlooked, aspect is that having a visible ID badge makes it easy to visually discern trespassers from employees.
While biometrics is not a complete alternative to traditional systems, hospitals should deploy a hybrid system. Due to cost, it can be impractical to use biometrics campuswide. For low-value targets and standard supply storage, hospitals are better off using cards or passwords. However, biometrics can be utilized to add a powerful extra tier of security to high-value targets, such as patient information, schedule 1 narcotics and so forth. More hospitals will install such systems as biometric technology becomes more sophisticated and cost-effective.
License Plate Recognition and Virtual Fencing: Other emerging technologies gaining popularity are license plate recognition systems and virtual fencing. The theory behind license plate recognition is confronting the threat outside as opposed to inside the facility. To deploy one of these systems, organizations must be sponsored by law enforcement since it will be tied to authorities’ criminal databases. While this won’t be able to stop unknown threats, it will help control known offenders or suspected threats. Individual organizations can also add license plates to their BOLO (Be on the Lookout) lists. Since the majority of workplace violence is committed by someone the victim knows, license plate recognition can intercept an internally reported threat if that person is on the campus without a valid reason. This also applies to employees who have been let go and should not be on the premises.
Virtual fencing will allow hospitals to leverage multiple technologies to erect virtual barriers to add an extra layer of security. Alarms will automatically trigger when a boundary is broken or an area exceeds normally expected foot traffic. Virtual fences can be installed using existing security systems, making them a more cost effective and aesthetically pleasing alternative to physical barriers such as chain-link fences. A downside of virtual fencing is losing the visual aspect of territorial security that comes with physical boundaries. Each hospital needs to evaluate their specific situation and goals to decide if virtual fencing is a replacement or an added tier of security.
2014 will present its fair share of challenges to healthcare security and the industry as a whole. Security executives will face budgetary constraints and compliance regulations while simultaneously dealing with an increase in crime and workplace violence. Nevertheless, there are many positives regarding the current state of the industry, with technologies rapidly advancing and becoming more efficient as force-multipliers. There are also unprecedented levels of communication between hospitals. Facilities are no longer acting within a silo—they are sharing real-time data, lessons learned and best practices. The sharing of knowledge will help hospitals in adapting to the new threat profile they will face in 2014.
James Barbour currently holds the position of Market Research Analyst on the Kratos PSS Marketing Team. In his role, James is responsible for conducting industry analysis and vertical market research as well as traditional marketing duties including developing marketing plans, creating and implementing campaigns, organizing events, and designing materials.