Integration of security is a priorty for retail sector managers 
Integration of security systems is a priority for retail sector managers

With the assumed digitalisation happening on the end-user side, progressive security systems integrators stress the importance of changing the business concept from being installers to being service and solution providers. However, less is known about the details of this process on the end-user side, Markus Lahtinen of LUSAX project explains.

An online survey of loss prevention managers in the retail sector showed that security digitalisation and further business integration of security are items of high priority among the respondents. Integration and change efforts are often associated with challenges; it will become necessary for end-users to quantify a clear ‘return' in ‘Return on Investment' (ROI) calculations when bundling security and loss prevention investments with other business supporting systems, e.g. video conferencing, Voice over IP (VoIP) and/or HVAC, etc.

Necessary organisational changes are equally important to achieve integration, for example seeking internal sponsors and approaching departments often characterized as being ‘siloed' in the past.

From security installation services to total solutions providers

Fighting low margins in a mature segment such as retail, security systems integrators aim to move away from being pure installation services to becoming total solutions providers offering services and added value beyond mere security such as taking the full responsibility of an ‘outsourcing' effort on behalf of the end-user and establishing a contractual and legal relationship. This can be exemplified by the need to connect security equipment to an existing IP network. 

Security managers acknowledge that systems integration through IP-networks is here to stay 

The different stage of the system lifecycle offers several opportunities for services beyond the installation.  These include maintenance, upgrading, and system termination. Consequently, the increased use of the corporate IP network drives opportunities that are based on being able to provide more of such value-added solutions and services. Similarly, a purposeful design of computing hardware resources (e.g. networked cameras) combined with appropriate software (cf. different applications of video analytics) and an analytical approach offers opportunities of cost savings on manual labour and possibilities of adding value to the income side of business.

While this transition effort by systems integrators is recognized as being logical from the perspective of the security industry, less is known about the end-user perspective of this shift.

Loss prevention managers' take on security digitalisation

An integrative approach to security saves costs 
Security systems integrated through IP-networks saves on costs

The  survey mentioned above addressed the following points:

  • The end-users' view on security digitalisation and integration
  • Rationalities associated with willingness to digitalise and integrate.

The survey showed that on the topic of integration, end users demonstrated the strongest agreements on the following:

  • Willingess to integrate security systems with other operational systems
  • Necessity of video surveillance to keep shrinkage at an acceptable level
  • Attempt to replace man-guarding with security technology. 

From these agreements it is clear that technology plays a crucial role in security operations.

Technology integration is therefore a shared vision of the future and common interest amongst end-users in the retail sector; this is beneficial for any systems integrator considering inclusion of integration services into their offerings. Also, the agreement reflects the role technology has in replacing manual labour - a valuable lead for constructing business cases and calculating ROI.

On the issue of integrating security systems with other operational systems, the following statistical correlations were identified:

  • With higher age comes an increased likelihood of seeing integration possibilities
  • Firms giving importance to loss prevention also see integration possibilities, and
  • Organisations holding a positive view towards integration are also brandaware with regards to security equipment.

Systems integrators face more responsibility with greater brand sensitivity

Technology plays an increasingly important role in security operations 
End-users in the retail sector stress that technology is playing an increasingly crucial role in the security operations

While the first two point above intuitively make sense, it is somewhat interesting to see that brand sensitivity is associated with a propensity to seeing integration possibilities. Service agreements do not imply a relationship where brands matter but rather that the system integrator takes responsibility in choosing a technical solution that supports the agreed level of service.

This is extremely relevant for the systems integrator attempting to offer services and solutions rather than just products and installation.

Integration is thus seen as an opportunity not only by systems integrators but also by the end users.

Implications for the systems integrator

Some of the implications for systems integrators are to build on the existing relationships with the loss prevention function. The systems integrators also have the option of finding new and parallel ways into the end user organization, i.e. offering services and solutions to other functions like operations (COO), facilities or IT (IT manager or CIO). This becomes even more evident if broader systems integration is a strategic objective of the systems integrators. Working in a network/partnership-approach with other industry players would potentially facilitate such a strategic initiative.

Critical role of IP networks in systems integration

Security managers report that systems integration through IP-networks is here to stay. Not only does it save costs but potential added value is recognized. Integration poses several challenges to the end-user: not only to prove the business supporting value of security but also technical challenges due to the complexity of IP networking and architecture. Finally, complementary organizational changes are necessary to push integration ahead.

One recommendation given to push integration is to construct an integrated business case with hard numbers and clear gains, for example bundling security with other business supporting services such as telephony over IP networks, information security and videoconferencing etc.

Markus Lahtinen, LUSAX Security Informatics  Markus Lahtinen
LUSAX project
Lund University
Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

AI in security: The crystal ball you’ve been waiting for
AI in security: The crystal ball you’ve been waiting for

One of the biggest trends in security and technology today is centered around solutions that take advantage of the wealth of connected security systems and devices powering the organisations all over the world. As the number of cloud-powered systems and sensors have massively grown in recent years, security leaders in the private and public sectors have started to look at ways to leverage the data from these devices to better the lives of employees, customers, and residents. But while the dream of creating a smarter, safer environment remains the top priority for organisations throughout the world especially as they continue to face the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, a myriad of factors hold security leaders back from implementing more advanced technologies across their infrastructures. AI as a disruptor of physical security One of the main reasons being that the advent of these cloud based technologies indubitably generate massive amounts of data that hamper any practical use by security professionals and often times create cognitive overload and paralysis by analysis. A myriad of factors hold security leaders back from implementing more advanced technologies across their infrastructures Organisations face the challenge of trying to answer numerous questions using the big data generated by the various systems and technologies. How are they going to handle the influx of information that all these disparate systems generate? How can it be analysed to extract any useful information or insight? What IT security controls are put in place to safeguard the data? How can the data be effectively curated and funneled to the right people at the right time? How can we make our security footprint be more proactive rather than constantly reactive? The answer is artificial intelligence. AI is undoubtedly one of the bigger disrupters in the physical security industry and adoption is growing at a rapid rate. And it’s not just about video analytics. Rather, it is data AI, which is completely untapped by the security industry. Improving your competitive advantage Today, all divisions of an enterprise are trying to leverage AI and big data to improve their competitive advantage and bottom line, including accounting, sales and marketing, material sourcing, and research and development. We need to ensure that the physical security industry realises they can significantly benefit from better, faster, and more accurate intelligence from the now unstructured, bottomless silos of security data; only then will this result in positioning physical security from a primarily reactive business to a revolutionary new proactive environment. AI is undoubtedly one of the bigger disrupters in the physical security industry and adoption is growing at a rapid rate As an industry, we need to focus on reinventing how security personnel and safety resources are allocated in the public safety and corporate security industry. And it all has to start with intelligence derived from big data using AI. Security leaders in the physical security and law enforcement industry can combine multiple data sources with predictive and prescriptive analytics and artificial intelligence to inform and dynamically deploy personnel, assets, and technologies. This approach drives automation of their current manual processes to maximise the effectiveness and efficiency of their entire security operations. Intelligently predicting the future? Bottom line: AI can change up your security game by automatically deciphering information to predict the future using a wide range of sources and data that have been collected, whether past, present, and future. That’s right; you can look into the future. By grabbing a hold of this AI-powered crystal ball, decision-makers can perform long-term strategic planning and informed day-to-day operational decision making. And what’s more, AI powered platforms are software-based, often delivered using as-a-service business models that empower security personnel to go beyond traditional static business intelligence visualisation and reporting systems to transformative dynamic, predictive and prescriptive decision-making environments. Today’s platforms are also not your traditional, old school, expensive PSIMs; they are cost-effective, configurable to your needs and dare we say, easy to operate. Every security leader I have spoken with lately want to extend AI to their security programs. They don't always know precisely where AI will fit, but they understand the need to operationalise more of their security practices. The overall why is that we should all work collaboratively to help organisations across the globe leverage the tools available to transition away from a reactive stance and gain informed insight into the future where we are truly prepared for and one step ahead of what is coming down the road.

Building security: How audio tells the whole story
Building security: How audio tells the whole story

Every building starts with the entrance. A solid enterprise risk mitigation and security strategy include protecting that entrance. Often, risk mitigation strategies protecting the entrance have included high-resolution video surveillance cameras, video management systems, and access control solutions. But that strategy and set of security solutions only tells part of the story. Imagine a security guard who is protecting a facility after hours, when an individual approaches the entrance and seeks to gain access. The security guard can pull up the video surveillance feed and see the individual and his movements, which appear to be suspicious. But he also needs to hear him in order to decide the next decisions and actions. Does he escalate the situation, calling for backup and for first responders’ response, or does he allow the individual access to the building because he works there and is authorised to enter?   Meet high-definition voice What the security guard needs is to be able to hear and to communicate with that individual. All enterprise security systems need three primary components in order to successfully protect the entrance and to mitigate risk – access control, video surveillance, and the ability to hear and communicate. Each component plays an integral role in supporting a unified security system, and without all three, the security system is not complete. Access control can be thought of as the brains of a security system by holding data and permissions. It serves as the arms and hands of the system; it can either keep someone out or What a security guard needs is to be able to hear and to communicate with an individualinvite them in. IP video allows a security team to remotely position a set of eyes anywhere an IP camera can be placed on a network. With a video management system, security teams can see what is happening and decide how to respond. However, with remote viewing, the event may be over by the time security physically responds.  Audio adds interactivity That three-component enterprise security system – comprising IP video, access control, and high-definition voice working together mitigates risks and provides value. It also means that security is interactive. Security teams talk and listen to the person that’s seen on a video surveillance system, no matter where the location or how remote. If the person is lost or simply needs assistance, security personnel can talk to them and provide direction and reassurance. Even more, in an emergency, an interactive solution becomes a critical life-saving tool, as it provides data that can be shared between security, police, emergency services, and more. Audio can also detect voices, noises, breaking glass, or other sounds that are not within direct view of a video camera. An interactive security system creates an informed response, by providing real-time situation awareness management. Post-event, it supports forensics and investigations to mitigate future security incidents.  Audio and COVID-19 We are living in extraordinary times. As businesses begin to reopen and stay open, they are looking for any tools that can help them overcome the enormous That three-component enterprise security system – comprising IP video, access control, and high-definition voice working together mitigates risks and provides valuechallenges they face. In buildings and facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new security perimeter, one that demands contactless access with entry and exit, and that has also created a new duty of care for security professionals. Now more than ever is the need to interact and communicate with individuals moving in and out of doors and spaces without physical intervention. Intelligent communications, integrated with contactless access control, can help a business to comply with pandemic safety guidelines and ultimately, reopen for business and stay open.  COVID-19 has also increased the need for clean-room isolation and quarantine spaces, sometimes in areas not originally intended for that use, where risk of infection is high, and equipment must be easily disinfected between patients. Here, purpose-built cleanroom intercoms, providing clear touchless communications despite the noisy environment, have emerged as critical tools for enabling patient care while reducing the need to enter the contaminated space. For example, voice communication can enable hospital staff to verify identity and to communicate with patients without entering the isolated and infectious environment, which can save on personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduce the amount of exposure to the virus. In non-emergency healthcare facilities, such as medical centers, voice can effectively relay information to building occupants and visitors for screening purposes. Visitors can be seen and heard. For example, a patient who seeks access to a medical center for an appointment can hear important instructions from a nurse via the intercom solution. Seeing the person that you talk to is one thing but hearing them conveys a much better sense of closeness, making it possible to maintain a high level of security and customer service.  The whole story Today’s security systems should no longer simply involve video surveillance cameras generating feedback and images to a security guard. Instead, a new ecosystem for enterprise security and risk mitigation has emerged, and it’s one that involves video surveillance, access control, and high-definition voice. That ecosystem can ensure well-rounded and responsive information management and security platform, all communicating with each other and offering actionable insight into risks and potential physical breaches. Audio is the new value hub of the connected and intelligent school, campus, building, correctional facility, and more. Simply put, a silent security system cannot be an effective security system. In every situation, it is crucial for all security professionals to mitigate risk, no matter what they are protecting. This emphasizes the need to hear, be heard, and be understood in virtually any environment.  

How thermal technologies improve facility security and workforce safety
How thermal technologies improve facility security and workforce safety

Blind spots in surveillance coverage, incompatible video and access control systems, lack of adequate perimeter measures—these are common issues that facility directors must address with their security teams. At the end of the day, facility executives need technology that accomplish more with less—that expand situational awareness, overall system functionality, and real-time response capabilities while generating cost-savings. By leveraging technology like thermal imaging, this is possible. Security directors who want to improve facility management—specifically 24/7 monitoring for heightened security and elevated skin temperature frontline screening for entry control—should consider incorporating thermal cameras into their next security upgrade or new installation project.  Levelling up your security with thermal By using thermal security cameras, facility directors can better protect their property and tenants from external threats. Backed by decades of successful deployment in the government and defense sector for reconnaissance, thermal imaging is a trusted technology. New innovations have expanded the use cases for thermal cameras and made them widely available to commercial and industrial facilities. Today, corporate offices, manufacturing plants and healthcare campuses all use thermal cameras as a core component of their security strategy. All use thermal cameras as a core component of their security strategy Thermal security cameras perform in adverse conditions where standard surveillance cameras cannot. Visual cameras require a light source, and thus, additional infrastructure, to produce an image. If there’s no light, there’s no video. Because thermal cameras measure infrared radiation, or heat, they do not need illumination to produce imagery. In fact, thermal cameras can see in total darkness as well as in rain, smoke, and light fog. They truly enable 24/7 surveillance. Enhancing video analytics Further, thermal cameras yield high-contrast imagery, which not only enhances video analytics performance, but also situational awareness. For example, a security operator viewing a thermal camera feed can easily spot a trespasser attempting to camouflage in the foliage at night by alerting the operator of body heat on premise. Thermal cameras also enable alarm validation. While motion sensors, laser detectors and fiber optic cables need another technology to visually verify the alert, thermal cameras already provide this function. With onboard analytics, thermal cameras detect objects, classify whether it’s a human, animal or vehicle, and provide video clips for remote operators to assess the alert. Consequently, thermal cameras minimise unnecessary dispatch of guards or police for false positives, saving valuable time, money and resource for facilities. In the event of a true alarm, thermal cameras enable superior suspect tracking. Upon receiving an intrusion alert, a long-range pan-tilt thermal camera can widely monitor the area and scan the property. The camera can then follow the movements of an intruder, and if equipped with both thermal and optical sensors, provide both thermal and color video of the person. With this data, a security officer can ascertain the threat level and determine whether the person is an employee who forgot their ID or an unauthorised person trespassing on private property. It is important to note that thermal cameras cannot detect a specific individual or their personal information, rather they classify whether the object is a human and then further analysis is required through of the use of visual cameras for identification.  For these reasons, facility directors, especially those managing large campuses or properties, should consider deploying thermal cameras to maximise their intrusion detection capabilities for stronger overall security. Thermal cameras maximise intrusion detection capabilities Streamlining entry control with temperature screening Facility executives can also improve their access and entry control security procedures by using radiometric thermal cameras for temperature screening. COVID-19, classified as a global pandemic in March 2020, has permanently changed how facility directors build security and environmental, health and safety (EHS) plans. Now, facility directors are prioritising protocols and technologies that minimise both the risk of exposure as well as the spread of infectious diseases among employees, visitors and contractors. Temperature checks have become one of the most widely adopted as a key component of frontline screening practices across facilities. In fact, General Motors plants and the Pentagon Visiting Center are notable examples of critical facilities deploying radiometric thermal cameras for skin temperature screening.  Radiometric thermal cameras for skin temperature screenings allow for a non-contact, frontline diagnostic tool that enables high throughput. These thermal cameras specifically measure skin surface temperature at the inner corner of the eye, the region medially adjacent to the inner canthus, which is known to be the best measurement spot. The most reliable thermal cameras yield accuracies of ±0.3°C (0.5°F) over a temperature measurement range of 15°C to 45°C (59°F to 113°F).  Available in a handheld, tripod-mounted or fixed-mount form factor, elevated skin temperature thermal cameras are deployed inside entryways, immediately screening people as they walk into the facility. These cameras scan a person up to one to two meters (or three to six feet) away. Premium thermal cameras can scan individuals in two seconds or less. Premium thermal cameras can scan individuals in two seconds or less Thermal cameras are intended for use as an adjunct to clinical procedures in the screening of skin surface temperature. Upon detection of an elevated skin temperature, a person must then undergo a secondary screening where a medical device can determine whether the person has an actual fever or should partake in virus specific testing. By implementing these screening procedures, facility directors ensure a faster, non-invasive method to quickly detect possible signs of infection before an individual enters a populous area. This minimises the risk of communal spread of viruses among employees in the workplace, which ultimately increases workforce health, safety and peace of mind. Today, a total security solution designed to detect both physical threats as well as environmental and health hazards is one that includes thermal cameras for elevated skin temperature screening. Facility managers can strengthen their risk management plans by proactively expanding their security systems to include these solutions. Many physical security solutions are already in place at key entry points as well as additional checkpoints, such as indoor surveillance cameras, visitor management and access control. Implementing screening stations with specific radiometric thermal cameras is a logical integration at these locations. Choosing the right solution for your facility While thermal cameras for perimeter protection and elevated skin temperature screening are valuable components to the overall security system, facility directors need to know that not all thermal is created equal. Thermal cameras need to be carefully researched and evaluated before deployment. Here are a few best practices for choosing the right thermal camera for your facility and application. Define your application: A thermal camera made for long-range perimeter monitoring functions differently than a thermal camera built for elevated skin temperature screening. Make sure to choose a camera designed for your specific use case. Know the distinguishing characteristics: Be aware of which technological features separate high-performing cameras from low-end options. For perimeter thermal cameras, resolution, detection range and integration capabilities matter. For elevated skin temperature screening cameras, resolution, sensitivity, accuracy and stability are critical. Check for certifications: Select a thermal camera with proven interoperability. Consider one that is ONVIF-compliant to ensure integration with the overall security system and chosen video management software. Additionally, for elevated skin temperature cameras, consider one that has a 510(k) filing (K033967) with the U.S. Federal and Drug Administration as well as one that supports other screening standards such as ISO/TR 13154:2017 and IEC 80601-2-59:2017. Work with experienced partners: Work with a system integrator who is knowledgeable in thermal. Choose thermal cameras from manufacturers with a solid track record of success for both security and elevated skin temperature screening deployments. Leverage guidebooks, site planning tools and online trainings that these experienced manufacturers have to offer to maximise performance.