The security week that was: 06/10/11 (7 corporate security lessons)

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Seven Corporate Security Lessons

Earlier this week, I had the fortunate opportunity to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour at some significant corporate establishments in the southern United States. I wanted to take the opportunity in this Friday's weekly recap column to share with you some of the key lessons that I felt could be seen in place at these facilities. I'm going to leave the names out of this, because while I was certainly in prominent facilities, the lessons that I'm trying to elucidate are applicable to any corporate security role.

Lesson number 1: No matter how amazing your buildings may appear to an architect, they probably don't seem that amazing to the skilled security professional. Let's face it, architects aren't thinking about your needs when they start to envision glass towers or complex atriums or disjointed elevator stacks. They're thinking about marble and the wow factor, not worrying about the boom factor. One facility manager told me recently: "I used to think this was the most amazing building and thought how cool it would be to work there – that is, until I actually got a job here and had to secure this place."

Lesson number 2: Video gets all the hype, but it's the ingress/egress/access system that does the heavy lifting. Sure, you go into any major building and somewhere in the basement you will find a bank of video monitors. But quietly ticking away are access control readers, turnstiles, and retractable bollards. This stuff may not have the wow factor of HDTV or 5 megapixels of 100x zoom video surveillance so that you can see the sweat bead on the head of a mosquito, but access/ingress controls are what most of your constituents (the employees or customers) interact with everyday.

Lesson number 3: You don't have to have the newest stuff, although it certainly is nice. I was in a security control room, and on the wall was a bank of older Pelco monitors to watch a bunch of older Pelco cameras. I can tell you right now that some of this stuff was from the 1990s, and probably some of it was from the early 1990s. Yes, the security supervisor was jealous of equipment systems that some of his colleagues at other buildings had put in place, but he recognized something. He knew that if he maintained that existing video system and used it properly, he would receive value from it, all without having to invest capital during tough economic times for his firm. Where the system had been upgraded, it had been upgraded very selectively.

Lesson number 4: Biometrics isn't tomorrow's technology. You would have been surprised how often I found biometric technology being used as part of the access control and identity management program. I think there is a perception in our industry that the stuff doesn't work or that it doesn't work well enough. Now admittedly, I was looking at only a couple different solutions put in place, but I was looking at a fairly high through-put set of doors, and I can tell you right now, it was working.

Lesson number 5: Video analytics is gaining acceptance. I was standing at a rack of monitors and noticed a video analytics algorithm running. I started asking the video supervisor at this console about the analytics, and here, in short, is his attitude about the analytics system. First, he thought it worked pretty well. Second, he thought it was sufficiently easy to use for his monitoring staff. Third, he said the false alerts are more than balanced out by the ability of the system to detect the actual occurrences it was designed to spot.

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