An article earlier this year in Security Magazine reported that 28% of organizations saw an increase in physical security incidents in 2022. That figure is up 20% from 2020. There were also other numbers:
- 48% of business owners say theft is one of the most significant issues.
- 40% report project delays because of a physical security incident
- 58% of business owners say they have changed their security strategy because of the frequency of such incidents.
Theft is not the only concern, though. The rise in workplace shootings and other attacks is on every executive’s mind. Cybersecurity and industrial espionage are also at the top of the list. These problems affect businesses, colleges, universities, hospitals, and others.
There are options. Building security systems are getting better at preventing these incidents. Technology is making great strides in security. Video analytics allows users to go into a closed-circuit video surveillance system and look for a specific item. Type in “red golf hat” or “black jacket” and indicate a time frame, and you will quickly get a selection of video files showing this item. Other systems can detect concealed firearms and even a variance in body temperature by as little as 0.1 degree Celsius (a genuine concern as we move forward in a world learning to live with COVID-19).
But how do you select the best security partner for your business or entity? There are many companies out there offering solutions. You aim to cut through the noise and find a reliable security partner. Here are some guidelines for searching for the best security partner.
1. Understand the three central pillars of security.
Security for a business revolves around access control, video surveillance, and voice communications. These systems can stand separately or combine to create a more thorough security system.
Access control. This is your ability to control who enters your business. Samples of access control include an RFID chip or a barcode on an employee ID badge or a vehicle windshield. Read by a sensor, it allows access into a parking garage, a building, or a secure room within that building.
Video surveillance. We’re all familiar with video cameras, but are you using the right camera for the application? Is it an inside, outdoor, or nighttime camera, or must it be infrared? There are differences. Are you covering all the areas that need to be covered? Do you need video analytic software? You can combine access control with a video camera and facial recognition.
Intercom and voice communications. Intercom systems are a vital part of the security triad. Systems frequently combine video and intercom to enable communication and verify who is at the door before allowing access. Many users can access a system through a tablet or cell phone if they are offsite. Once the user verifies their identity, they can grant access remotely.
2. Look for a partner who talks of the technology that enables the growth of security.
The three technologies that drive most of the advancements and capabilities in security, and in almost every other technology, are open and integrated platforms, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Your security partner should be familiar with these technologies.
Open and integrated platforms. The individual components of your security system need to communicate with each other and with other systems within your business. Open platforms ensure that this communication is smooth and effortless. Open platforms also allow you to upgrade and introduce new systems with less effort. If a potential security partner proposes a closed system, that’s a warning.
Cloud computing. Features such as video analytics can search through large amounts of data quickly, but that data needs to be stored somewhere. Cloud computing allows you to expand your data storage quickly and keep it off-site but have it quickly accessible via the internet, and it is considerably less expensive than if you purchased the servers yourself. The capacity of cloud computing also facilitates deep learning in your security system for features such as object identification, biometric identification, facial recognition, audio analysis, and much more.
Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is a series of interconnected devices that communicate and make decisions, often without human interaction. Your video surveillance can be programmed to detect certain types of intrusions and automatically trigger an alarm. It can also be programmed to determine the best exit route for building occupants and communicate that over the building’s intercom system. There are all sorts of possibilities, all enabled by the Internet of Things.
3. Look for a well-staffed firm.
Yes, there is crossover within the three pillars of security, but there is also a good deal of specialty knowledge in each area. The staff of your chosen security partner should have experts to support every project in which they are involved. A security firm with a versatile team that understands the project’s goal reduces your headaches when the system goes live. A buggy security system is a nightmare.
4. Ask about industry certifications.
As you research commercial security, you will come across the same manufacturer names: Schneider Electric, Salient, OpenEye, Genetech, and others. The best security companies have the most current certifications from these manufacturers. Many colleges and universities also offer degrees in security management. Look for a team led by someone with a degree in this field.
5. Your partner should be more than an integrator.
If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. This is as true for security as it is for any other business. Make sure your security partner isn’t an integrator who will see every project through their area of expertise. The security triad is essential, but there are other security measures, some of which can be environmental. An excellent strategic partner will discuss lines of sight, landscaping, and architecture that create natural paths, controlling where people go.
6. A good security partner has a track record.
Ask potential security partners for a portfolio of other projects. The best security companies will have photos and videos of projects and letters from grateful clients. Consider a newly formed company that is just starting operations. The principals should have projects they can point to as evidence of their accomplishments with other companies.
7. A good security partner knows about building management systems (BMS).
Decades ago, BMS primarily controlled the HVAC in a building (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Today, BMS can be a building-wide system, monitoring lighting, escalators and elevators, energy usage, parking garages, and many other functions. BMS and building security systems often overlap in integration and coordination. Both can benefit from sharing data and responding to events, such as adjusting HVAC in response to security alarms. Depending on the type of business housed in a building, overlapping these two systems can also violate regulatory compliance in data privacy, product contamination, or other areas. It is essential that building security systems operate independently of BMS to ensure that security is not compromised.
A word about cybersecurity
Cybersecurity, protecting the integrity of your IT system and data, is also essential, but it is a different field than the physical security of your building. Regardless, building owners should ensure that any changes to cybersecurity consider the physical security system. A security partner may not address cybersecurity. Still, the engineers and programmers for these systems must work in unison, and they should test the integrity of both systems after completing work.
Contact FICO for a Free Estimate!
FICO provides turnkey security systems for businesses, schools, office buildings, hospitals, and others in and around Montana. We have been doing it for more than 20 years. We are also experts in building management and system integration services. Our staff works with leading security manufacturers to provide safe environments. We invite you to look at our portfolio. Call us for a free estimate or visit our website.