Expanded Focus on Situational Awareness Marks ASIS 2007 Exhibits

Sept. 26, 2007
More sensors but less understanding unless you link systems to provide situational awareness

I think I've figured out what the underlying theme of technology exhibits at this year's ASIS International show. While I was tempted to say "integration", that's really a cop-out, because that's like saying the "theme" of the human body is breathing. Frankly, integration seems to have to be so core to our industry now, that it's like breathing: If you're not doing it, you're probably not alive, or at the very least, you're going to need the defibrillator for your company.

So it's not "integration"; rather, the underlying theme I'm hearing so often is situational awareness. You're seeing it across the show floor and you can see it in Honeywell's booth where video management and access control are tied together to give you situational awareness. You can see it over at Lenel's partner booth where Imprivata (also a partner with Honeywell) helps deliver a converged solution that, if integrated into an access control notification and user management system, could allow the situational awareness of telling you not only who is in your building, but who is on your network and whether they have met the rules needed to be on that network (like the simple rule of actually having to be badged into the building!).

You can see this focus on situational awareness in a more traditional sense with companies like Siemens which uses the map-based elements from the Vistascape technology they acquired to provide operators a sense of what a video stream really means -- i.e., that's it's not just a wire connected to a sensor, but is a locatable source of data.

You can see situational awareness as companies like Genetec try to integrate management systems like they've done in their new Synergis platform. Frankly, any system that pulls video and links it automatically to an access control event is giving you situational awareness because you know more and can find out more about an event than you ever could before. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there are companies like Orsus which are entirely focused on the situational awareness side of security management.

I think the thing we're recognizing is that our industry is very adept at installing more and more sensors. And as we got better we could even integrate more and more sensors to give us more and more data. However, having more data doesn't give you awareness. Rather, it's the linking of appropriate sensors together to provide meaningful information, and then feeding that data through converged or integrated management systems which defines situational awareness and tomorrow's security management models for the new technologies. And for an industry that sometimes had been stuck on watching for minute sensor actions, the focus on situation awareness if refreshing.