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Security control rooms should be functional and durable, and their aesthetics should incorporate matching colours that are conducive to a 24/7 operating environment—not too much contrast and easy on the eyes. Another factor driving aesthetics is an enterprise’s desire to create a ‘showpiece’ to demonstrate a commitment to security for shareholders and other stakeholders. “Everyone wants to have a good-looking control room and a cost-effective design,” says Matko Papic, Chief Technology Officer of Evans Consoles. Role of lighting and aesthetics in control rooms “Lighting is a critical factor for operators,” adds Papic. Studies of control rooms have sought to address issues of circadian rhythms (physical, mental, and behavioural changes that a person undergoes over a 24-hour cycle, based on responses to light) and the impact of changing light colours throughout the day. Flexibility is key. Properly adjusted light can increase alertness at 2 a.m.; controlling the colour, tone and intensity of light can increase productivity any time of day. Evans Controls has experts who can do a lighting study of a room as part of construction services and consulting. Evans Controls has experts who can do a lighting study of a room as part of construction services and consulting Aesthetics, depending on the control room, can be very important, agrees Randy Smith, President of Winsted. His company accommodates aesthetics by using a variety of matching laminates, solid (Corian-type) surfaces, and sometimes real wood. They can put in a console with matching work surfaces, a credenza or other furnishings, or can even match existing décor in a facility. Customised tailored furnishing Security control rooms, often operating in glass enclosures, are often used to “make a statement” about the security of a facility, says Smith. Companies want the control rooms to be up-to-date, and have “cool designs.” Sometimes they want to add a company logo to a work surface or side panels, or they want to employ corporate colours in the design. Winsted can customise its offerings to meet any such requirements, says Smith. In too many instances, the control room is an afterthought: They just install furniture that fits with the monitors. How the furnishings are tailored to the operator is often not considered, says Papic. He offers several other considerations: Will the furniture last the lifetime of the control room? How adaptable is a design to possible future changes, whether larger monitors, managing cables, or ability to reconfigure the console? Furniture should not be viewed as a transactional item; there are more issues to address beyond physically housing the equipment, says Papic. Read part 5 of our Control Rooms series here
Today, almost every employee carries with them a smart device that can send messages, capture, and record images and increasingly live-stream video and audio, all appended with accurate location and time stamping data. Provide a way for staff to easily feed data from these devices directly to the control room to report an incident and you have created a new and extremely powerful ‘sensor’, capable of providing accurate, verified, real-time multi-media incident information. You need only to watch the television when a major incident is being reported. The images are often from a witness at the scene who recorded it on their device. It is madness that it has until now been easier for people to share information around the world via Facebook and YouTube etc, in a matter of minutes, than it is to transmit it to those that need to coordinate the response. The public as an additional security and safety sensor In the UK, a marketing campaign designed by government, police and the rail industry is currently running. Aiming to help build a more vigilant network on railways across the country and raise awareness of the vital role the public can play in keeping themselves and others safe, the ‘See It. Say It. Sorted’ campaign urges train passengers and station visitors to report any unusual items by speaking to a member of rail staff, sending a text, or calling a dedicated telephone number. Essentially, the campaign is asking the public to be an additional safety and security sensor. However, with the help of the latest mobile app technology, it is possible to take things to a whole new level and this is being demonstrated by a large transport network in the US. This organisation recognised that the ideal place to begin its campaign of connecting smart devices to the control room as an additional sensor, was by engaging its 10,000 employees (incidentally, this is approximately twice the number of surveillance cameras it has). These employees have been encouraged to install a dedicated app on their mobile devices that enables them to transmit important information directly to the control room, as well as a panic button for their own safety. This data can be a combination of images, text, audio, video and even live-streaming, to not only make the control room aware of the situation but give them eyes and ears on the ground. For the control room operator, the insights being fed to them from this ‘sensor’ have arguably more value than any other as they provide pinpoint accurate and relevant information Combatting control room information overload For the control room operator, the insights being fed to them from this ‘sensor’ have arguably more value than any other as they provide pinpoint accurate and relevant information. For example, if an alert comes in about a fire on platform 3, the operator doesn’t necessarily require any of the information from the other sensors, nor does he need to verify it’s not a false alarm. He knows that the information received has been ‘verified’ in-person (it is also time and location stamped) and that there is an employee located in the vicinity of the incident, who they can now directly communicate with for a real-time update and to co-ordinate the appropriate response. Compare this to a 24/7 video stream from 5000 cameras. It is in stark contrast to the typical issue of sensors creating information overload. The employee only captures and transmits the relevant information, so in essence, the filtering of information is being done at source, by a human sensor that can see, hear, and understand what is happening in context. So, if an intruder is climbing over a fence you no longer need to rely on the alert from the perimeter alarm and the feed from the nearest camera, you simply send a patrol to the location based on what the person is telling you. Furthermore, if the control room is operating a Situation Management/PSIM system it will trigger the opening of a new incident, so when the operator receives the information they are also presented with clear guidance and support regarding how to best manage and respond to that particular situation. Transport networks are using staff and the public as additional safety and security sensors Application of roaming smart sensors To be clear, this is not to suggest that we no longer need these vitally important sensors, because we do. However, one major reason that we have so many sensors is because we cannot have people stationed everywhere. So, in the case of the US transit company, it has been able to add a further 10,000 roaming smart sensors. This can be applied to other industries such as airports, ports, warehouse operations, stadiums, and arenas etc. Now, imagine the potential of widening the scope to include the public, to truly incorporate crowdsourcing in to the day-to-day security function. For example, in May, it was reported that West Midlands Police in the UK would be piloting an initiative that is asking citizens to upload content relating to offences being committed. Leveraging existing hardware infrastructure Typically, when introducing any form of new security sensor or system, it is expected to be an expensive process. However, the hardware infrastructure is already in place as most people are already in possession of a smart device, either through work or personally. What’s more, there is typically an eager appetite to be a good citizen or employee, just so long as it isn’t too much of an inconvenience. Innovations in smart mobile devices has moved at such a pace that whilst many security professionals debate if and how to roll-out body-worn-cameras, members of the public are live-streaming from their full HD and even 4K ready phones. The technology to make every employee a smart sensor has been around for some time and keeps getting better and better, and it is in the pockets of most people around the world. What is different now is the potential to harness it and efficiently bring it in to the security process. All organisations need to do is know how to switch it on and leverage it.
Technology is changing the look and function of today’s security control rooms. Old-school CRT (cathode-ray tube) monitors are giving way to the thinner, flat screen monitors in the control room environment, but the transition is gradual. Randy Smith of Winsted still sees many control rooms that need to make the conversion, which is a boon to his company’s business. Furniture today is designed differently to accommodate the thinner monitors, often with larger screens. Need for integrated rack systems With the increase of IP-based systems comes the need for integrated rack systems that include advanced functionality such as cable management, adds Jim Coleman, National Sales Manager, AFC Industries. Server rooms are environmentally controlled by cooling systems and power systems monitored on the IP network. Low-profile flat screens allow centres to utilise space vertically, thus creating a smaller footprint for the consoles. Additionally, with IP-based systems, workstations will have a smaller footprint because there is less cumbersome equipment. In most cases the servers are stored in a secured, climate controlled environment to eliminate overheating of the servers and maintain their security, says Coleman. This environment also helps with cable and power management. AFC builds technical furniture racks that adhere to the precise needs of computer network server room operators. The company designs and fabricates LAN workbenches with versatile functionalities, and server room workstation racks that are scalable. There is a complete line of IT workbenches, IT computer racks and computer server rack mounts with flexible mounting options. In most cases the servers are stored in a secured, climate controlled environment to eliminate overheating of the servers and maintain their security Flexible control room designs Matko Papic, Chief Technology Officer of Evans Consoles, says the transition from bulky CRT equipment to flat-screen (lower profile) monitors was a major disruption in control room design; it changed the whole dynamic. Another evolution is the use of IP video streaming, which allows more flexibility in manipulation of audio-video content, and requires more flexible control room designs. Another shift, driven by larger, higher-definition monitors, is a shift to fewer monitors that display more information. Instead of a smaller monitor for each information stream, larger monitors now consolidate that information into “dashboard” displays. Looking ahead, control rooms will need to be more flexible, both in the initial design and the ability to adapt to changing technology, says Papic. Legacy customers who are currently using PCs may be moving to more remote applications. Sit-stand equipment will continue to be increasingly prevalent. “There will be more emphasis on flexibility, technology integration, and the ability to change over the life of the system,” says Papic. Consolidation of multiple operations into a single system A trend in security is consolidation of multiple physical operations into a single system, says Papic. As a result, more customers are taking more interest in alarm management and situational awareness. How is the technology being used in terms of alarm triggers? How can the systems react rapidly and provide information to a larger audience in the control room? These questions impact how control rooms are designed, and Evans Consoles can adapt lessons learned from other markets to these trends in the security arena. Greater use of technology is inevitable, says Coleman of AFC Industries. “It is virtually impossible for humans to monitor all security data at the street level in our cities,” he says. “As computers become more powerful and their programs more all-encompassing, we will see a greater shift to robotic and technology uses that will provide enhanced monitoring capabilities and safety Read our Control Rooms series here
To support the ongoing demand for its video data storage solutions and sophisticated integrated command and control systems, which serve the global video surveillance and security industry, Veracity UK Ltd has recruited Scott Harrison as Systems Sales Manager, focusing on new business opportunities in the UK. Right technology solution Welcoming Scott to the organisation, Alastair McLeod, Veracity’s CEO, says “We are delighted to have Scott joining our existing team of industry experts here at Veracity. With a successful career in our industry of over 25 years, primarily on integrated video management systems, Scott’s brings great knowledge and experience of understanding the security challenges and risks faced by customers, and how the right technology solution can help organisations manage and mitigate such risks.” Scott’s career, working within other major security industry groups including ADT and Honeywell, brings significant experience in developing systems through a hybrid approach, in combining old and new technologies onto a single cost-effective platform. Scott also brings his expertise in offering single site, multi-site, large networked systems and global system solutions to the Veracity group.
Revader Security has agreed a strategic partnership with Dynamic CCTV, a trade supplier of professional CCTV to the security industry. Revader Security’s range of products include Transit rapid redeployable cameras which are straightforward to install in virtually any location and can be rapidly repositioned to respond to changing security demands. Powered by battery or mains, footage can be viewed and downloaded over wireless and mobile networks. Remote monitoring solutions The company also produces a range of mobile power solutions (PowerPaks) and a range of accessories to interface with the redeployable CCTV products. Revader Security has also developed a range of diesel and battery powered rapid deployment CCTV towers which are proving increasingly popular with end users and the security trade as a rental opportunity. Dynamic CCTV will promote, supply and support Revader Security’s range of products As complete surveillance, recording and remote monitoring solutions, they are ideal for deployment into situations where little or no existing infrastructure is present. Dynamic CCTV will promote, supply and support Revader Security’s range of products with trade customers across the UK, drawing on over 25 years’ experience in the marketplace as one of the suppliers of CCTV to the security industry. Digital recording systems Dynamic CCTV is a Hikvision UK authorised distributor, providing the latest innovative CCTV equipment at very competitive pricing - including Digital Recording Systems, IP Cameras and CCTV monitoring equipment, along with products from other manufacturers such as TP-Link, GJD, Iiyama, TOA, Ubiquiti and Veracity. Stuart Caldecourt, Managing Director at Revader Security commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with Dynamic CCTV, who have an outstanding track record in the supply of professional CCTV products across the UK – and an impressive engineering and support capability proven over many years.”
A substantial focus of the security industry is on the selection and installation of security systems, and there is no doubt that this is a critical element of the process. However, in order to ensure that security systems such as access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection and panic alarms deliver on ‘game day’, an equal if not greater emphasis has to be put on the actions that are taken after the installers have closed the doors on the truck and driven away. This article covers some important issues that were covered at the 2019 International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC) annual conference in Miami, Florida, where Frank Pisciotta, CSC, Business Protection Specialists, Inc. and Michael Silva, CPP, Silva Consultants, facilitated a discussion among security professionals on the topic. Backwards compatibility in access control solutions David Barnard of RS2 security highlighted the importance of backwards compatibility in access control solutions David Barnard of RS2 Technologies LLC highlighted the importance of backwards compatibility in access control software solutions. Reputable manufacturers are constantly evolving software products and it is critical that software continues to work with all installed hardware or owners will find themselves purchasing equipment a second time, which is never good news. An example, a case study with a client where the video management software upgrades were not backwards compatible through the mobile app and a small manufacturing site was looking at a US$ 75,000 price tag to upgrade cameras to make them compatible with the ‘updated software’. Risks of failures in door hardware products Jim Primovic from ASSA ABLOY cautioned about the risks of failures in door hardware products resulting in a failure to attention to detail in the selection and, in particular, the installation process. He explained the importance of using certified installers to avoid operation problems. In light of constantly evolving software revisions, how often does one see any additional training provided to end users when software updates are released? Charles Johnson of Open Options raised this important point and it is an excellent one. As organisations think about structuring maintenance agreements, it might be wise to consider ongoing training to cover software updates and ensure that end users can continue to optimise the features and benefits of software revisions. Software Support Kim Kornmaier of Honeywell mentioned another element of security system lifecycle consideration, which is ‘Software Support’. Maintenance agreements are available and will likely be offered from every installer and come in a variety of flavours. However, care needs to be exercised to ensure that whatever services and support are included, in the scope of a maintenance agreement, have a clear correlation between service and software upgrades versus the fee charged. Software upgrades and system testing Maintenance agreements should be avoided that simply guarantee the free replacement of parts (which may or may not ever get used, even after you pay for it). Services that should be considered include software upgrades, system testing and replacement of consumable parts, like back up batteries. Another key issue ties directly to periodically measuring and ensuring the risk reduction results of security systems, for example, with an access control system, there are several actions recommended for system owners, including: Conduct periodic door and alarm testing - This presumes users have installed all of the necessary parts to enable alarm monitoring). These tests should include the mechanical testing of doors and confirming door-held-open-too-long and forced-door alarms are properly reporting to the alarm client. Importance of harnessing door alarming capacity Excessive door alarms are an indication of either a user or system problem Excessive door alarms are an indication of either a user or system problem or all alarms should be investigated to determine root cause and corrective action needed. Organisations who fail to harness door alarming capability are giving away up to 50 percent of the system's potential benefit. Ensuring the integrity of the access control database is of prime importance. The failure to manage this can lead to unauthorised access and serious security incidents. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but in the majority of risk assessments they have conducted over the years, it is common to find separated employees and contractor records with active credentials in the database. Ways to mitigate this risk include: Integrating your access control database with active directory (works for employees, not so well for contractors); Utilising expiration dates on contractor credentials; Periodically manually auditing contractor and employee active badge reports for anomalies, which may indicate process weaknesses in the change management process; Utilising the ‘use it or lose it’ feature in many software programs that automatically disable a credential after a set period of non-use (e.g., 90 days); and Establishing processes to limit the removal of certain badges from the site (e.g., those issued to contractors or temporary employees). ‘First Card Unlock’ feature Irregular schedules, holidays and natural disasters can result in access vulnerability. For instance, if access-controlled doors at a site are programmed to open on a timer and something prevents persons from arriving at work (e.g., snowstorm), a site may be left exposed. A mitigation technique against this type of risk would be to employ a concept called ‘First Card Unlock’. Under this feature, a lobby entrance to an office, for instance, would not enter into an unlocked state, until the first authorised employee presented a card and entered the workplace. Changing holiday programming in security systems Holiday programming in some systems needs to be changed on an annual basis Holiday programming in some systems needs to be changed on an annual basis. Managing holidays in an access control system results in doors staying secure which would otherwise be unlocked on a normal business day. Similarly, intrusion detection, duress devices and video surveillance systems can let users down without the proper care and feeding. Examples would include: A panic device fails to communicate an emergency situation because it was not properly reset or the wiring has been damaged due to poor installation. Panic devices should be regularly tested and ideally the activation during testing should be by a person who would be required to use the device in an actual incident. The objective here is to build competency in the persons who may need to activate a device discretely. Similarly, intrusion detection systems should be carefully tested to ensure that all devices are properly reporting to the panel and that the panel is communicating properly to the central station. If there are redundant communications channels, each should be verified. In the same way someone would conduct audits of active credentials in an access control system, it is strongly recommended that users perform a similar review with PIN codes, which have been assigned and would allow for an unauthorised person to disarm a system. Utilising the failure-to-close feature to ensure that through collusion or negligence, if the last person out of a restricted area fails to arm the panel, the central station will notify a responsible party about the omission. Further, reviewing opening and closing reports might well detect inappropriate entries by authorised personnel which are indicative of suspicious or illegal activity. These features and reports will likely be at an additional cost, but they are important insurance to protect against insider threat. It is not uncommon to hear about an incident happening and during the investigation, the owner of the system discovers that the needed camera was not recording. Where video is not under routine observation, it is recommended to determine if your video management system can send an alarm in the event of video loss. This would allow for rapid remediation before the video loss is discovered in the course of an investigation. Avoiding degraded video quality over time In almost every case, degraded video quality is directly related to resource saturation With respect to video surveillance, as systems grow and evolve over the life of the system, organisations may experience degradation. Darren Giacomini of BCDVideo has studied this issue extensively and concludes that in many cases, installers or others are simply putting too many devices on a VLAN, which results in latency and other conflicts. Degraded video quality has a finite number of potential root causes. In almost every case, degraded video quality is directly related to resource saturation. The resources on a surveillance network consist of IP cameras, network switches, network uplinks, viewing stations, database management and archives. Resource depletions According to Giacomini, each of the resource shares a common thread. And, at the basic level, each of those items is nothing more than a purpose-built computer with limited CPU, memory and network capacity. When any of these resources exceed their capacity, the quality of service delivered will degrade. The following are common resource depletions that can degrade video quality and require a much deeper dive, but are included here as a starting point: IP camera CPU utilisation is in excess of 85 percent; CPU elevation in the decoder or workstation decoding the video; and Network congestion or CPU elevation in the network switch. Maintaining the integrity of archived video data Giacomini indicated that the majority of the time degraded video is associated with resource depletion Giacomini indicated that the majority of the time degraded video is associated with resource depletion in one of these key components. Investigation of the potential causes can save time and effort, and prevent a video management software application from unduly being blamed for poor performance during its lifecycle. Also, on the topic of video, John Kampfhenkel, Director of Technical Sales at Veracity discussed the challenges that organisations face when video management system storage is undersized and the need to carefully plan for video retention of existing recorded data when the video system has to be expanded. This can be a problem organisations face and when they do, it is best to involve a video storage expert to determine options, costs and potential legal requirements for maintaining the integrity of archived video data. Selecting the right security technology Dependent on the level and type of integration between various systems, another challenge may be to preserve the integration between the two systems. System owners will need to coordinate carefully with installer(s) to ensure that a software revision to one system will not result in a disruption to a software level integration. This type of integration may require a delay in being able to upgrade one or the other application software versions until the integration can again be certified. Selecting the right security technology is an important element of an organisation's security risk management. However, experts would argue that in terms of getting measurable results from technology, there needs to be a keen focus on sustaining activities after the installer closes the doors and drives away. By adhering to the consultant and manufacturers' guidance in this article, organisations can substantially reduce the risk to people, assets and information, and prevent criminal and terrorist incidents in the workplace.
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