Unified Solutions Streamline Corporate Campus Security
Unified security solutions offer heightened security, operational efficiencies
- By Mark Feider
- September 15, 2022
For large corporate campuses, managing access to multiple sites while ensuring tenants, employees, and visitors can easily move around is key to overall security and operational efficiency. Historically, balancing these goals was a complex task.
To improve situational awareness, most large corporate campuses have traditionally focused on system integration. This involves combining and connecting multiple standalone systems so that events from each can be viewed and managed centrally. This, in theory, simplifies the operator’s workflow by providing them with a primary interface into which all events are consolidated and from which responses can be coordinated and reports completed. Unfortunately, integrating multiple systems does not necessarily mean they can operate seamlessly. Since each solution is designed for a single set of activities, it can be difficult to consolidate data, expand applications, and add new technology devices. Operators usually still need to go back to the source system for advanced functions and reporting. Finally, the cost of maintaining the integrations can often be higher in the long term than the productivity gains.
Considering an open-architecture, unified platform will remove most of these constraints and help deliver situational awareness and productivity gains. In a unified platform, all security applications can be installed, administered, managed, and coordinated using one user interface. This includes access control, video surveillance, automatic license plate recognition, duress & communication, alarm monitoring, and more. An open-architecture system facilitates the addition of new security technology and sensors to adapt to the campus’s evolving needs. The result is a solution that not only secures their sites but also provides actionable insights.
Laying the Foundation for Efficiency
Large corporate campuses often have multiple buildings and thousands of access points, cameras, and sensors. Making sense of the data haystack these sensors create is a challenging task for security operators. Events that are clear in hindsight can easily be missed due to the sheer volume of data that needs to be manually processed in order to detect an anomaly. If the goal is proactive security, this will require significant resources that must be trained on multiple systems.
A unified platform provides a more efficient alternative – instead of toggling between systems, operators can monitor events, handle response protocols, and manage investigations across multiple locations from a single user interface. Managers can even define standard operating procedures (SOPs) for specific events, and the system will guide the team step-by-step from the initial response to the resolution. This minimizes guesswork, improves incident response times, and ensures the campus stays compliant.
With unification, corporate security technology teams can also reduce the cost and complexity of system deployment and administration. Since there is only one application to install, train on, administer, and maintain, the lifecycle cost of administration is significantly reduced.
Growing With Your Evolving Campus
When implementing a new open-architecture platform, organizations can often use existing components and avoid purchasing new hardware. Connecting pre-installed cameras, sensors, and more when upgrading a system can result in significant cost savings. As a campus’s needs evolve and new requirements reveal themselves, additional hardware can be incorporated to best meet the organization’s objectives.
As a corporate campus expands, a unified, open-architecture security system can grow with it. When new buildings or campus locations open, they can be seamlessly incorporated into the existing infrastructure. Operators can manage the security of these multiple campus sites, even when they are in different states or countries, from a centralized security operations center.
Likewise, as the number of visitors to a campus grows, a campus-wide physical access and identity management (PIAM) solution can streamline the process of giving access rights to new employees and guests. A PIAM system based on a workflow approach and individual identities can reduce delays related to assigning access rights. It stays continuously stay up to date on unique user attributes in the system to ensure safety is never compromised.
Improving Operational Insights
While a unified physical security solution provides an efficient and scalable way to meet safety and security objectives, it can also help teams go beyond targeted objectives. Many corporate campuses are enhancing their business operations using insights gathered from data collected by their security system.
A unified platform can help spot emerging operational trends and efficiencies by collecting and displaying data from thousands of video cameras and sensors in distributed buildings and facilities. This information can then be analyzed to detect a range of patterns, including occupancy rates, traffic flow, and parking usage. After analyzing the results, organizations can implement improvements.
For example, by incorporating people-counting analytics into a unified solution, corporations can detect when their office complexes are more often occupied and adjust utilities and space availability. They can get answers to questions such as: Are certain areas experiencing heavy traffic that could be alleviated by additional signage? Is an adjustment in the office layout needed?
Likewise, by using automatic license plate recognition (ALPR), corporate campuses can monitor parking-lot usage to explore ways to improve the parking experience for their employees. Are certain lots used more than others? Should spaces be reserved for rideshare programs or for those who are carpooling?
These insights can then spark discussions for overall campus improvements and provide a real return on investment. Management teams are becoming more resourceful in using this data to improve both security and business operations.
Cloud and Hybrid Considerations
In addition to improvements in business operations, corporations can also explore cost efficiencies when moving to a hybrid cloud solution, combining the benefits of on-premises solutions with those found in the cloud.
A hybrid cloud solution lets organizations increase resilience by seamlessly replicating their data. That means if there’s a natural disaster at a location or a server failure at a data center, users still have access to their system through the cloud. With cloud solutions, all information that is sent back and forth between an organization’s devices and the cloud is fully encrypted. So, even if a potential threat gains access to valuable data, they won’t be able to read or see it without an encryption key.
By implementing a hybrid cloud solution, corporate campuses can reduce the cost of server maintenance, including lowering their space and energy requirements. System updates can be issued through the cloud instead of staff having to do them manually on-site. This reduces time and labor costs, as well as improves cybersecurity by ensuring systems stay up to date.
Corporations often start their cloud journey with a hybrid solution that works with their existing cameras, hardware, and sensors. Cloud solutions deployed from an open-architecture platform make it easier to integrate with a variety of existing setups and provide the flexibility to adopt a hybrid system. Organizations can expand capabilities at a pace that fits their business goals and budget. For example, they may add cloud-based monitoring capabilities first while keeping local video storage. Over time, they can add the ability to record video to be stored directly in the cloud.
Unification Supports Evolving Needs
Corporate campus security needs often change as the campus evolves. Having a solution that can grow alongside their organization helps them adapt to these changes. Likewise, leveraging system data and information to other departments—such as real estate, building automation & facilities, customer service, and shipping—can bring new opportunities that enhance the organization.
Physical security systems are no longer solely leveraged for the security operations center of a corporate campus. Today, they can be part of a larger discussion on the corporation’s digital and operational transformation.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.