Established by the French Government’s Ministry of Finance and Economics, the ACCORD project was commissioned to design and implement financial system modernisation. The charter of the ACCORD initiative team, composed of representatives from multiple government ministries, is to architect solutions that enable the French government to manage the finances of the country with the same level of accountability as private sector enterprises. The technology-based infrastructure selected was a smart card solution to confirm and authenticate users across 40 departments.

HID Global’s Identity Assurance software

The systems operated in parallel but could not leverage the benefits of a unified system

AIFE – Agence pour l’Informatique Financière de l’Etat – chose HID Global’s Identity Assurance software coupled with smart cards for the solution.

Ensuring users are ‘who they say they are’ over the course of several decades, individual French government departments had developed separate and distinct applications to manage activities such as budgeting, processing purchase orders, and other accounting activities. The systems operated in parallel but could not leverage the benefits of a unified system.

Enterprise Resource Planning system

With the inception of the ACCORD project, the government committed to streamlining finance management by moving to one system for centralised control of the country’s budgeting and finance operations – with a goal that by 2004, all government central entities will be using the standard Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The transition to an online application that consolidates financial reporting and transactions requires an organisation to determine how it will identify users with certainty prior to granting them access to the system and to valuable data.

The solution must be easy to use to ensure departmental acceptance of the new application and authentication process. It must also minimise the IT staff time required for day-to-day administration and helpdesk activities for a large population over 7,000 dispersed users. These multiple challenges presented an opportunity to leverage proven digital identification solutions from HID Global.

Smart card-based PKI identification solution

HID Global’s Security Client software solution and smart card readers are key elements for securing the finance system at all user points of entrySmart card-based solution using digital certificates with PKI, The French government-wide implementation securely links multiple departments, such as the Ministries of Education, Justice, Transportation and Housing, and Foreign Affairs, to the unified ERP application, enabling the exchange and ultimate consolidation of digital information.

In 2000, the Ministry of Finance began deploying HID Global’s smart card-based PKI solution. HID Global’s Security Client software solution and smart card readers are key elements for securing the finance system at all user points of entry – any of which could become a source of fraudulent or malicious activity in the absence of strong authentication and confirmation of digital identity. Today, employees regularly use the card with a microchip that holds their unique credentials in the form of an Entrust digital certificate.

HID Global’s Gold Entrust-Ready certification ensures a smooth deployment to large numbers of users, and the combined solution with Entrust TruePass delivers the following benefits:

  • Enhanced Security: HID Global’s multi-factor authentication reinforces the fundamental security and intent of a PKI by requiring something the user has (a smart card) and something the user knows (a PIN code) in order to use the private keys stored on the card. To further enhance security, the key pair is generated on the cryptographic smart card itself, so that the private key is never exposed to the insecure PC environment. The tight integration of HID Global’s client software with Entrust ensures certificate key updates are transparently and automatically made on the card.
  • Non-Repudiation: To support non-repudiation, it is essential that ERP system users provide undeniable proof that they are who they say they are. Keys used for that authentication can never be stored on the potentially vulnerable user workstation. Those sensitive keys must remain under the sole control of the user, and HID Global’s client software ensures private keys are generated on the card and remain in the rightful owner’s possession at all times.
  • User Simplicity: HID Gobal’s Security Client software provides a familiar ATM-like user interface that makes complex digital identity and PKI technologies transparent, so employees can focus on their work responsibilities and financial application activities to easily access the system. HID Global’s commitment to openness and industry standards ensures that the French Government’s initial investment in digital identity products and smart card client software infrastructure is capable of supporting multiple PKI vendors and other forms of identity credentials in the future.
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How Internet of Things (IoT) aids facility management and physical security
How Internet of Things (IoT) aids facility management and physical security

As buildings become more complex and smarter, the age-old traditional maintenance methods that are based mostly on hands-on human monitoring are becoming more and more inadequate. Instead, the world is fast adopting building automation as a key component of smarter and more proactive maintenance strategies. The aim is to free up maintenance staff and give them time to focus on other tasks while machines monitor the different systems that work together to make the facility functional. Specifically, Internet of Things - or, IoT - enablement appears set to transform the way facility managers deliver service to building occupants. The trends are many and the possibilities are almost mind-boggling, from inventory management, to work scheduling and energy efficiency, the list goes on and on. Below, we look at a few ways in which IoT is being used for Facility Management and Security. Revolutionise maintenance through condition-based maintenance For years now, the norm among maintenance professionals has been a time-based approach, or in simpler terms, performing maintenance operations after a set period of time. But a major flaw of this system is that components were being replaced periodically whether the parts were actually worn out or not. Of course, that meant some of these maintenance activities simply weren’t cost-effective. To avoid this waste from continuing, a subset of IoT known as IIoT can now be used to optimise the maintenance process. IIoT works as a centralised network of connected systems and devices that can talk to one another and generate and relay data Rather than changing parts on a time-based schedule, IIoT works as a centralised network of connected systems and devices that can talk to one another and generate and relay data. Selected equipment are fitted with sensors that monitor specific operational parameters and let maintenance professionals know how the machines under supervision are working, understand their current condition, and then pinpoint the optimum time they need to be maintained. The information generated this way is vital as it allows maintenance staff to intervene just in time to avoid costly downtime and other associated inconveniences. This is, in a nutshell, the basics of predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. These days, by implementing condition-based maintenance, IIoT is being used to effectively monitor a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC, fire suppression, security, etc. The applications are numerous and so are the benefits. On page 52 of this guide by the US Department of Energy, they state that a functional predictive maintenance program could yield up to 10 times ROI, reduce maintenance costs by 25% to 30%, and reduce downtime by 35% to 45% Along with fire suppression, IIoT is effectively monitoring a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC and security Remote monitoring of facilities Physical inspections have been a critical condition for the success of conventional maintenance programs, even in hazardous environments. But, with the increasing emphasis on personnel safety, organisations want alternative solutions that allow staff to examine assets without being physically present. Facility managers and their team working in industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining can relate with these constraints. And these industries can benefit greatly from deploying predictive maintenance solutions. For example, in the oil and gas industry, IIoT sensors can be used to monitor remote and highly critical assets. These sensors can be used on pipelines to detect anomalies (especially corrosion) and pass that information to supervisors for necessary action. By doing this, potential failures are quickly predicted to avoid often disastrous incidents. Managing energy consumption Sensors are also being embedded in building components and devices like HVAC systems, lights, doors, windows to understand energy consumption and proactively manage it. Facilities that use this technology could achieve substantial energy savings. In a press release by IT research and advisory company, Gartner, they stated that IoT can help reduce the cost of energy - as well as spatial management and building maintenance - by up to 30%. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building These sensors work by monitoring different conditions in the building and causing a power-saving action based on the data received. For instance, occupancy sensors can order lights to turn on when it senses motion in a room and then turn off the same lights when there is no presence there. That way, there is no need to wait for someone to remember to switch off the lights when they are not needed.   Another very common use is in HVAC monitoring. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building. So, the issue is how can one use IIoT to manage HVAC and possibly reduce their energy usage? Well, in its most common form, IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes then communicate with the rest of the HVAC equipment and make needed adjustments for occupants’ comfort. Not only that. IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes The technology can be configured to: Track energy consumption at different distribution points throughout the building. Track usage from the power source right down to the consumption point. Detect sudden voltage drops or spikes (usually an indication of some fault). These are essential benefits because HVAC units are notorious for consuming large amounts of energy when they are working inefficiently. Security and access control Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management. It takes several forms such as the monitoring of life-saving systems like intruder or fire alarms, invisible barriers, and other safety installations. Facility managers are using IoT across different industries to obtain live information about potential emergency situations with a view to responding before the issue escalates. In such cases, quick detection of any strange activity is key because many of these installations have tangible negative effects when they fail or when they are intentionally sabotaged.Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management Fortunately, the surveillance equipment can also be setup to send alerts to mobile phones to aid emergency response or evacuation as the case may be. Smart surveillance is also priceless for monitoring the situation in partially or fully automated remote facilities (especially oil and gas installations and mines), and in hostile environments with critical equipment where humans cannot work for extended periods of time. If you are not yet using IoT in your facility, you may be wondering where to start from. To avoid getting overwhelmed, a good place to start would be to try a small-scale deployment of this technology then review its ROI and impact on your operations before adopting a more widespread IoT implementation. This way you can gradually scale up as you and your staff come to understand and adapt and to this new way of doing things.

Is the physical security industry doing enough to prevent school shootings?
Is the physical security industry doing enough to prevent school shootings?

School shootings continue, as does a search for answers. What solutions are there to prevent school shootings and/or to improve the response (and thus minimise the death toll)?  In the physical security industry, we like to think we have solutions that can help, if not “solve”, the problem, but realistically speaking, how effective are they at the end of the day? We like to think we have solutions that can help, if not “solve”, the problem: but how effective are they at the end of the day? The sad answer – even after dozens of school shootings and even in the wrenching aftermath of the latest one – is that we don’t know. There is a gaping lack of knowledge and research when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of preventative measures as they relate to school shootings. Scarce resources on preventative measures The dearth of knowledge on the subject leaves schools at risk of spending scarce resources on measures that don’t have any real impact, or worse, that have a negative effect on education environments. The natural impulse following a school shooting is to do something – anything – to prevent the tragedy from happening again at any school, but especially at my school. But how is money best spent?Successful businesses are a good thing, but not at the expense of misspending education resources on solutions that don’t solve anything Congress has passed the Stop School Violence Act of 2018 to provide $50 million per year to develop programs to train students, teachers and law enforcement to prevent violence, and to create anonymous reporting systems, such as hot lines, for school violence threats. The bill authorises another $25 million for improvements to school’s physical security infrastructures. Congress also provides $1.1 billion in Title IV block grants, which districts can use to pay for diverse needs such as security systems. Several states are providing additional funding for physical safety measures and campus police, and local districts are also stretching their budgets to address security concerns. But is that money being targeted to measures that will help the situation? What is the role of technology in preventing school violence, and are we as an industry at risk of over-selling our preventative capabilities and diverting money from other measures that might have more impact? Successful businesses are a good thing, but not at the expense of misspending education resources on solutions that don’t solve anything. More metal detectors, armed guards and police officers could cause anxiety in some students and even interfere with the learning process Studies on school safety and protection Researchers, advocates and educators gathered this fall at American University to consider the need for better research to inform decision-making on safety, reported Education Week.The field is in desperate need of more evidence on what works, and schools want this information presented to them" A 2016 study by the Rand Corp. points to the problem: Lack of data and research on what works and what doesn’t. “Despite growth in the school safety-technology sector, rigorous research about the effectiveness of these technologies is virtually non-existent,” according to Rand. “The field is in desperate need of more evidence on what works, and schools want this information presented to them in vetted, digestible ways to help them with procurement.” Jeremy Finn, a professor of education at the University of Buffalo, has pointed out the difficulty of assessing the effectiveness of measures designed to deter events that likely won’t occur anyway. “How do you know when you have deterred a school shooting?” he asks. “It didn’t happen.” The effects on our students  Might technologies aimed at making schools more secure have an adverse effect on the learning environment? More metal detectors, armed guards and police officers could cause anxiety in some students and even interfere with the learning process. The physical security industry should freely acknowledge that the technologies we offer are only part of the solution to school violence Do security measures aimed at preventing active shooting incidents absorb resources that might better be used to address a more general and/or likely security threat such as vandalism or student discipline? Theoretically, security measures in general should help to prevent the probability of an active shooter at the same time they are addressing a wider range of concerns and threats. But do they? At the very least, we in the physical security market should be aware, and should freely acknowledge, that the technologies we offer are only part of the solution to school violence. Schools should take the broadest possible approach to the range of security challenges, and technology should be one tool among many. Furthermore, better data to measure what works is sorely needed to illuminate the best path forward.

How can the physical security market promote better employee retention?
How can the physical security market promote better employee retention?

Employee turnover is a problem for many companies, especially among younger employees who have not developed the philosophy of employer loyalty that was common in previous generations. Nowadays, changing jobs is the norm. The idea of spending decades working for a single employer seems almost quaint in today’s economy. However, excessive employee turnover can be expensive for employers, who are looking for ways to keep their brightest and best employees happily toiling away as long as possible. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can the physical security market promote better employee retention in a competitive employment environment?