Do You Need More from Your Security Investment?

There’s an old saying, “Half a loaf is better than none.” While that might be true for bread, it’s not really true when it comes to security, is it? Rarely are we satisfied with just a little bit of information about a situation. Rather, as inquisitive human beings, we want to take in as much information as possible, especially when there’s a critical decision tied to it.

When dealing with a security incident, we want to be presented with as much detail as is available so we can take the proper action. If an alarm sounds, but we have no information on why it sounded, what choices can we make? Do we dispatch someone, only to find out later that it is a false alarm? Or do we wait until we have confirming data, and risk that something untoward happens — a theft, an attack or some other event? If, on the other hand, there is an alarm and we have video that immediately pops up to show us the scene that goes with it, it’s that much easier to react appropriately.

TSecurity Investment PSIMhe industry has a name for this operational benefit: situation awareness. Situation awareness involves providing operators with a complete picture of what is happening in the incident location so they can better understand threats, evaluate risks, and make better decisions. The advent of integrated systems has helped us improve situation awareness and brought us that other half of the information we are missing. Whether it’s a business looking at providing security for its employees and premises, or a consumer interested in a home security program, integration of alarms, access control, and video gives a more complete picture.

Integration not only allows us to react based on better information, but it speeds up the entire process. No longer are we waiting around for more data to come in; instead it is presented to us all at once. When an alarm sounds, we aren’t going to a secondary source to find the appropriate video that matches the time and location of the alarm — it’s all tied in together and presented in real time.

Having access to integrated information can be a cost saver as well. False alarms are a distraction and there can be costs with having an outside source, such as the police, respond to them. Or even if it’s only the internal security staff that has to check out each alarm, the cost of that response quickly adds up in the time wasted and resources squandered.

Today, more and more applications are being integrated to the benefit of security system users. Beyond the traditional video, access control, and intrusion alarm systems, we’re seeing the addition of video analytics, perimeter detection, tracking, and mass notification systems. Even systems that aren’t typically thought of as security related, such as building controls, are being tied in because of the important information that can be provided. For example, just think how timely it would be to be able to know and confirm that there was a water main break and a building was flooding.

While it seems great to know that all these systems can be integrated, there may be some concern about the cost and complexity. Wouldn’t hooking up all these systems and maintaining integrations be cost prohibitive?  And won’t people become overwhelmed by all this data coming from multiple systems? The good news is that technology, in the form of physical security information management systems (PSIM), has allowed for these different systems to be integrated onto a single platform. With PSIM solutions as few or as many systems can be brought together as needed. This means someone could start out by just tying together alarms and video, but then easily progress to the next levels of adding in video analytics or perimeter monitoring without having to undergo a lot of additional training.

With today’s integrated systems it is becoming easier to gather information and make the most informed decisions yet. And get the complete answer.


What questions do you have about PSIM? Please let me know in the comments section below.


Source: Tyco Blog

Turning up the heat on video analytics

For the average person watching people come and go from a retail store, a sporting event or even a hotel lobby, the movements can seem random, with no apparent pattern behind them.

But for those who are deploying the latest in video analytics, those same travels within a defined space can be tracked and analyzed to allow store operators, arena owners and hoteliers to make key business decisions related to merchandising, personnel positioning and, of course, security.

Heat mapping — one of the newest analytic tools available — provides a visual interpretation of traffic patterns. The movements of those people who appear to be merely walking through the store are now captured and analyzed, and the resulting data can be looked at more closely.

video analytics heat mappingThis becomes important in a retail setting as stores look to maximize the effectiveness of their displays and increase overall store performance. A promotion may seem successful on paper, but if no one can find the display within the store, or they don’t stop to really look at it, then sales will suffer. Heat mapping can show retailers the traffic patterns within the store and help them determine where the items should be placed.

Beyond displays, stores and venues can also use heat mapping to help them determine where to place permanent items such as ATMs. It may seem logical to put the machine at the entrance, but if the goal is to get people into the building, and heat mapping shows that people use the machine but then turn away, it may be better to place it within the facility.

Closely aligned with heat mapping is another analytics tool that helps make sense of the traffic analytics. Once it’s established where and how people are moving within a retail venue, the next move is to see how long they dwell or linger within the area, checking out the products on display.

Looking at the retail example, once the display is in its optimal location, the goal is to get shoppers to look at the products being sold and make a purchase. Dwell data tells us how long someone is stationary; linger does the same, but the person is usually milling about, rather than standing in one spot.

By integrating dwell and linger information with Point Of Sale data, it is possible to determine how many people stopped in front of the display for several seconds, or moved within the general area, are converted to buyers.

Dwell and linger data can also be used to determine how to assign personnel within an area. If analytics show that people are milling in a specific spot within a store, it may be necessary to send over a salesperson to offer assistance or, in the case of hotel, an additional desk clerk. Analytics that show a group gathering for a pre-determined period of time could also be a sign that security needs to check out what is going on as it could indicate suspicious behavior, such as a shelf sweep.

Of course, all this information won’t be of much good if it isn’t easy for the system’s user to retrieve and analyze the data. While security personnel are familiar with analytics, it may be new to those on the operations side. But today’s analytics are tailored in such as way that the information is accessible to everyone, no matter their IT expertise and no matter the size of the operation.


Do you have any questions about Heat Mapping? Please ask in the comments section below.


Innovations in Campus Safety

When most people think of the word campus, many immediately picture some stately college site, with ivy-covered buildings sprawling across acres of land with neat, green lawns and tidy pathways.

Campus SafetyBut campus can also invoke visions of a sprawling hospital complex or major businesses with manufacturing and office buildings grouped along a busy highway, a huge corporate logo out front and workers hustling among the various structures or headed to expansive parking lots.

And residing in the background, especially if some recent event has put into our minds, is how best to secure these extensive properties, be they educational complexes or business ones.

Even in the tightly confined spaces of a single office, if there is an emergency, getting the word out can be challenging at best. Are people at their desks, in the bathroom, out to lunch — how can we locate and notify them?

Now magnify that by a hundred times or more when you factor in a campus-style setting with multiple buildings, classrooms or offices and parking structures. We have only to think back on recent tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, to see how challenging it can be to inform those in danger when an event occurs.

Recently the state of Connecticut allocated more than $20 million in grants for 75 school districts to make security improvements. Some of that money is being earmarked for mass notification systems. This is just one of many Government initiatives geared towards advancing safety of campuses.

Mass notification is one of the key components needed for ensuring security within a campus setting. Whether it is an active shooter on the property, a fire in one of the buildings, a tornado headed for the area or a toxic chemical spill nearby, mass notification can make a large, sprawling space instantly more manageable.

A simple push of a panic button in one building can send the message throughout the system that there is a threat nearby. The message can be sent through various measures depending on what is installed — a flashing strobe, a text message, an audible alarm or a combination thereof. Lockdown procedures can also be initiated without relying on individuals throughout the campus setting to put them into operation on a site-by-site basis.

Campuses can be idyllic places for study or work, but they can also be targets for both natural and manmade disasters. Learning what the threats are and how best to address them is critical, whether it is a school or industrial park, from criminal activity or natural disasters there are many variables to take into consideration.

If you are responsible for campus safety, you’ll want to hear about the latest in security technology and mass notification product trends. Register to watch this recorded webinar that covers a brief overview of recent incidents, U.S. Government initiatives geared towards advancing safety of campuses, as well as technology trends, features, and opportunities in implementation of mass notification and streamlining unauthorized access.

Webinar recording - Innovations in Campus Safety

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What are your greatest security concerns in a campus setting? Please leave me a comment below.


Source: Tyco Blog