What Keeps You Up at Night?

Oct. 27, 2008
An ST&D reader survey looks at the top concerns of today's security directors
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In December, Security Technology & Design surveyed a select group of readers to find out what keeps them up at night. We asked the survey group 10 questions about their most pressing concerns, ranging from technology to management issues.

Their answers demonstrated a growing partnership between physical and logical security managers and a welcoming attitude toward convergence, but they also showed significant stress about budgets and maintenance issues, as well as executive support. While software and network issues seem to be front of mind for many of our readers, the survey also highlighted the fact that many security directors are just as concerned about their manned guard force issues.


The Big Question

When it came to the big question, “What keeps you up at night?” the majority of the responses revolved around systems interoperability and technology, but the total response pool spanned a wide range of topics. So what does keep the average security director up at night?

• “Compliance with policies, procedures and our corporate code of ethics.”

• “A lack of quality and qualified integrators; an industry which doesn't understand enterprise management or networked systems.”

• “Network reliability.”

• “Loss through or because of technology.”

• “System stability.”

• “Executive buy-in for implementing an enterprise-wide security model.”

• “Education that security is everybody's business.”

• “Workplace violence.”

• “Budget!”

• “Having enough available staff.”

• “Low pay for officers equals high turnover.”

• “That there will be an incident no matter what precautions are in place.”


So Happy Together?

When asked about cooperation between IT and physical security departments, the majority, 56%, said their IT department is a partner in achieving their security goals. Still, 20% of the respondents said they have no involvement with the IT department, and 17% claimed IT actually presents a hindrance to their security performance.


Automate Away

End users were asked which labor-intensive task they would automate away given the opportunity. Most of our readers mentioned ID and reporting tasks as their prime candidates. Here are some of the other tasks our security professionals most want taken off their to-do list.

• “Keeping track of contracted employees.”

• “SOX compliance documentation for badging & access.”

• “Documenting large systems—they should be self documenting, including graphics.”

• “Alarm and report integration.”

• “Visitor system integrated with the security access system.”

• “Guard reporting requirements.”

• “Nightly badge audits.”

• “Remote access control of service gate entrance at night.”


Middling on Bio/Smart Options

When we asked about fraudulent credentials in their facilities, only 42% of those surveyed said they are concerned enough about this possibility to consider using biometrics or smart cards to prevent it. Thirty-one percent indicated they would not use either credential option, and another 24% remained undecided.


Middling on Bio/Smart Options

The vast majority of readers surveyed see convergence as a positive technology step, with 93% saying that they view it as an opportunity. But at the same time, when we asked these readers what areas of technology integration they could still use the most help in understanding, 64% said they need help with IP-based and networked security systems as well as enterprise-wide security options.


The Money Crunch

Video surveillance (19%) and manned guard services (21%) are the two security functions that put the most budgetary strain on our security professionals, according to our survey. When we asked our readers which technology buying decisions are most challenging for them, they listed card access and ID management systems at the top(25%), followed by video surveillance (21%) and IP-based & networked security systems (19%).


Maintenance Problems

They listed these same three solutions as the ones that give them the most maintenance problems. Why?

• “Present (vendor) company can not keep technicians. This will lead us to change.”

• “Managing third-party response for maintenance.”

• “Cost of outside technical service – lack of trained persons inside.”

• “Six-year old systems needs upgrade, but company won't fund replacement work.”

• “IP-based is great, but we have problems with the network and also the security systems server hardware.”


Not Much Safer?

The impression of many Americans has been that security in corporate sectors dramatically increased following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Several leading reports completed in the days since then indicate that is not the case. ST&D readers bring that point home, as 53% of our respondents said their organizations are about as safe now as before 9-11. Only 44% said they were safer than before.

About the Author

Steve Lasky | Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief/Security Technology Executive

Steve Lasky is Editorial Director of Security Technology Executive, Security Dealer & Integrator magazines and SecurityInfoWatch.com.