The Beat

Oct. 27, 2008

Cruzin' with Susan
Conflict In Corporate Security: Understanding the Dynamics

Your engine is revved, now step on the gas-you wish. As the year comes to a close, dealers and manufacturers in the industry are still in the pits, waiting to see the "emergence of convergence" in the corporate security sectors. For you it will mean having to be totally up to speed and immersed in the IT world. Are you ready?

Don't get in a panic just yet. There was evidence of corporate security discussions all over ASIS International's annual convention but the fact remains, companies report no increase in spending for security much. Part of the reason is a slow economy.

Another reason is that you're not quite sure how to approach these people. Maybe it's time for a little study in psychology. A Conference Board Report says that there are basically three clashing cultures in corporate security: Cops, Geeks and Bean Counters. Corporate security efforts are being stymied because of these culture clashes and other problems, according to The Conference Board.

A clash of cultures in three distinctly different corporate departments is hindering companies in their attempts to upgrade their worldwide security efforts, The Conference Board report concludes.

The report is based on The Conference Board's ongoing research and discussions with top-level security experts at major corporations.

"To effectively manage their total security needs, companies must bridge this clash of cultures and create a common frame of reference for this function," says Tom Cavanagh, corporate security specialist for the Board.

The primary responsibility for keeping companies secure is divided among employees responsible for protecting people, goods and facilities, protecting company data and communications networks, and protecting company finances. Managers in these three different company units have distinctly different backgrounds and differing degrees of authority and prestige in their companies. Often, they do not communicate readily with each other.

The report classifies each category as follows:

  • Physical security specialists are usually recruited from law enforcement agencies and the military and are trained to respect authoritarian command structures.
  • Security units in information technology departments are embedded in the overall IT structure, where innovation and privacy are often admired.
  • Risk managers have financial backgrounds and are largely responsible for maximizing corporate returns, minimizing costs and avoiding losses.

These three units also have different reporting relationships, says Cavanagh. Corporate security exists in three different worlds: the realms of cops, geeks and bean counters. Simply getting them to communicate with one another, without a translator, can be difficult, he suggests to security dealers hoping to conquer corporate accounts.

Despite the widespread differences among these three departments, they have many common denominators, the report indicates. The key to improving corporate security is getting all three areas to cooperate to assure that security is an integral part of the company's overall mission.

Try taking that route to avoid the many pot holes you encounter traveling down the bumpy corporate security highway.

Industry Pulse
Proving the Impact of Enhanced Call Verification
A well attended press event at the ISC in New York was when the members of SIAC introduced themselves to the media. At this press conference on November 4, 2004, The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) announced a nationwide initiative to promote the adoption and implementation of Enhanced Call Verification (ECV). It helps reduce police dispatches while maintaining the crime deterrent affect of alarm systems, and the Association has the numbers to prove it.

The Boulder Police Department reported a significant decrease in the number of alarms police responded to since initiating ECV. In fact, a six-month case study of two major companies implementing Enhanced Call Verification in Boulder, CO has shown consistent reduction in calls for service from alarm activations. The police department is hoping to expand the program to all alarm companies serving the community.

According to Chief Mark Beckner, the department will evaluate the new policy at the end of the year. Longmont police and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office will be keeping an eye on the results. The department reported reductions above 20% each month and a six-month average reduction of 25%.

Beckner says that if the systems significantly cut back on false alarms, he anticipates other county agencies in the state being very interested.

Enhanced Call Verification was developed by the professional alarm industry trade associations and, after testing in several markets, it was endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as a recommended practice. Enhanced Call Verification involves making a second call to a second telephone number when there is an alarm activation, and, in most cases, the call is to a cell phone.

"We have a long history of working with law enforcement agencies to effectively manage alarm systems," states Ron Walters, who manages municipal affairs for SIAC. "Since, in most cases, 80-90% of your customers are responsible and may never have had an alarm activation that requires police response, the other percentage needs attention. He suggests dealers apply ECV to abusers first for an immediate impact.

"Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) is the most effective program ever developed to reduce police dispatches to invalid alarms," states SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin. "For years, the focus was on the reduction of the percentage of alarms that were deemed false, but the percentage rate was found to not be relevant to gauging the effectiveness of alarm management programs."

When the International Association of Chiefs of Police Private Security Liaison Committee (IACP PSLC) moved the focus to reducing alarm dispatches two years ago, the alarm industry response was the development of ECV. SIAC is now launching a national initiative to encourage alarm companies to adopt ECV into their dispatch protocols and is also urging law enforcement to adopt ECV as a dispatch policy.

SIAC's initiative is to get the word out over the next year. ADT and Brinks already have programs underway and were present at the meeting to show their full support.

For further information, visit the SIAC website at

Number of alarms that Boulder police responded to by month*

COMPARISONS - 2003/2004 
January 2003	262
February 2003	254
March 2003	244
April 2003	198
May 2003	215
June 2003	253
July 2003	298 
August 2003	225
September 2003	208
October 2003	201
November 2003	175 (-13%)
December 2003	141 (-19%)
January 2004	201 (-23%)
February 2004	173 (-24%)
March 2004	192 (-24%)
April 2004	154 (-22%)
May 2004	166 (-23%)
June 2004	186 (-26%)
Jan-June 2003 	1426		
Jan- June 2004	1072 (-25%)

* These numbers do not include alarm calls that were canceled before police responded. Source: Boulder Police Department