Articles by Steven Turney
Cloud-based solutions with mobile credentials and capabilities are simplifying multi-site management Facility managers and security operations staff are often bombarded with calls from multiple tenants, across several sites — each with unique needs — but traditionally they had no insight or control on the spot. Now, cloud-based solutions with mobile credentials and capabilities are simplifying multi-site management — enabling notifications and remote access, and providing a real-time holistic view across sites to reduce support and operations costs and, ultimately, enhance security. A traditional building maintenance call, for example, would happen after equipment broke or a system went down. With no visibility into the problem, a technician would have to be dispatched to the site without a full understanding of what tools to bring or how long a fix might take. In some cases, the issue would have already been addressed before anyone arrived — not really a big deal if, say, the temperature was off a few degrees for a few minutes. The big loss was probably time. But with security, especially across multiple locations, wasted time could be life threatening, so alerts must be timely, information current and response immediate. A cloud-based security management solution puts these capabilities into the hands of security professionals and is accessible from anywhere including mobile devices. Mobile apps are alleviating many of the previous challenges of multi-site security and simplifying management by enabling facility managers to remain up to date on information, situations and alerts even when on the move. Security in the Cloud Early on the concept of the cloud was as hazy and mysterious as an actual weather cloud. Today, the understanding of cloud-based solutions is clear and their value is undeniable, even though the secure nature of the cloud still comes into question. On the contrary, running security operations in the cloud is not an oxymoron. Many don’t realise the use of an open, mobile, cloud-based tool can actually increase security while simplifying operations In fact, many organisations already use the cloud to run data sensitive applications for HR and CRM; they just don’t realise this when considering a cloud-based security solution. And many don’t realise the use of an open, mobile, cloud-based tool can actually increase security while simplifying operations overall. By using a cloud-based solution, facility managers no longer have to worry about costly servers or software updates and their systems are better maintained. Benefits of cloud-based security solutions At the outset, a cloud-based security solution results in a reduction of support, development and operations costs. Previously, security operations software would have to be installed and maintained locally. In some instances, a dedicated server was required, which would then have to be monitored, maintained and updated thus increasing the customer’s total cost of ownership. Now, the application and database can reside in a secured cloud environment with replication across multiple servers for redundancy and high availability. Integration, wireless and cloud capabilities combine for a more efficient cost footprint, upfront and ongoing. An open solution with flexible hardware for standard communications as well as integration with other key security systems such as CCTV and intrusion detection systems come together in an easy–to-use environment and can be managed either while sitting at a desk or on the move to ensure ongoing safety and security across locations. In addition, off-the-shelf devices and universal protocols simplify support, help ensure business continuity and can even reduce maintenance. With a cloud solution, security updates to many critical systems can be automated Push notifications and mobile alerts Mobile applications get security staff out of the command center and allow them to be visible and present at the specific site where they are most needed at any given time. Push notifications and mobile alerts mean they won’t miss critical information from any other sites when on the move. Even more, mobile apps provide real-time information for a current and holistic view across security operations to enable better decisions and situation management in real-time. This mitigates liability, reduces risk, ensures continuity and, in some cases, helps meet government and insurance regulations. From alarm management and CCTV integration, to ID badging, elevator and light control and mass communication, there no longer needs to be a delay in response, and there will be no surprises on the back end. Latency is eliminated as events, transactions, alarms and more are occurring, security teams will be able to see synchronized updates on their devices. Real multi-site security scenarios Here are two common security scenarios to help illustrate cloud-supported simplicity in multi-site security management. When in the middle of working and a message to update the computer pops up, the majority of employees are likely involved in something they consider more important, so they just click on “remind me later.” Yet, shutting down an update window in the security world, opens up a window to risk. For maximum protection, all solutions must be current, at all times. The most secure environment is an up-to-date environment. Mobile apps provide real-time information for a current view across security operations to enable better decisions and situation management Of course, keeping current used to take time and resources — including staff that could be performing other security tasks of greater strategic value. With a cloud solution, security updates to many critical systems can be automated, eliminating the associated manual processes and removing the issues of incompatibility or system stagnation. In another example, the Murphy’s Law of security is that if something is going to go wrong, it does so on Friday at 5:00 pm when staff is shutting down or have already left. What if an employee was let go and needs to be locked out of all systems; while at another site, at the same time, another employee who’s heading in for the weekend shift is locked out? Traditionally, a member of the security staff would have to physically go back on site to resolve these issues, or a tech would need to be dispatched to fix the door. Either way, it would be challenge to fix both problems in a timely manner. A cloud-based security solution would provide an alert via its mobile app, enable remote access and allow for immediate control of the situations. A security solution for all sites For overall maximum security effectiveness across all sites, companies need a solution that provides mobile support and pushes notifications to enable facilities managers and security operators to easily and quickly respond. The insight provided by real-time data allows many situations to be resolved right there — wherever “there” happens to be at the time. Plus, with visibility into the incident, security staff can better understand how to respond or if there’s a false alarm. This saves money and effort, and allows deployment of resources to the most urgent situations. The right tool greatly simplifies multi-site security management and ups safety by enabling quick and informed action. After all, when it comes to security, a matter of seconds can make all the difference.
Schneider Electric, the provider of digital transformation of energy management and automation, announced the release of the latest version of EcoStruxure Access Expert, its integrated security solution. The latest edition of Access Expert is a single integrated system that allows data and controls for many building functions to be accessed within a single interface. The platform can connect systems throughout the building, including lighting controls, power monitoring, building analytics, UPS and critical power monitoring with a range of security systems, including access control, CCTV, alarm management, photo ID badging, intrusion detection, and mass notification. Access Expert uses non-proprietary hardware and can incorporate legacy technologies, thereby allowing buildings professionals to eliminate significant upfront costs Monitoring security cameras and managing visitors EcoStruxure Access Expert is available on both mobile and desktop, allowing building security professionals to quickly and easily communicate with building occupants, monitor security cameras and manage visitor access while on the go, while viewing data on operations across the rest of the building and collaborating with multiple operations teams. The latest version of Access Expert includes multiple new features including a visitor checking registration tool and new visitor reporting capabilities, multi-screen support and active directory integration over an LDAP protocol, along with integration with EcoStruxure Building Operation via Smart Connector. Access Expert uses non-proprietary hardware and can incorporate legacy technologies, thereby allowing buildings professionals to eliminate significant upfront costs. Delivering building integration and automation Access Expert integrates access control and building management systems (BMS) on the BACnet protocol, supporting open standards and delivering true building integration and automation, while avoiding the limitations of traditional security and building automation integrations. This allows Access Expert customers to fully leverage the potential of their buildings and protect their existing infrastructure by enabling legacy technologies to be upgraded to today’s features and standards. “As today’s building staff are being asked to continue to perform at optimal levels while energy prices rise and budgets shrink, it is clear that smart buildings are the wave of the future,” said Steven Turney, Security Program Manager at Schneider Electric. “Using open protocols, web services, open APIs and IoT, Access Expert v3 improves the collaboration of teams across multiple departments while still allowing each to remain independent by merging together traditional security offerings with building automation platforms.” Access Expert keeps customers current with automatic updates, automatic backups and automatic redundancy that is not available in other platforms Capabilities of the integration Access Expert integrates with EcoStruxure Building Operation to provide the highest level of integration between security and automation functionality while still allowing the appropriate levels of separation. Leveraging Smart Connectors, the integration provides: Direct HTML5 linking into Access Expert to manage: Credentials and access rights Schedules and elevators Visitor management Import feature for controller information from Access Expert into EcoStruxure Building Operation Binding of controller objects within EcoStruxure Building Operation to provide: Remote release, door open, door secure mode changes Facility, door lockdown, secure override Intrusion detection status Alarm management and acknowledgement New features of Access Expert v3 EcoStruxure Building Operation via Smart Connector HTML5 web environment Global I/O Multi-screen support Windows Applet for logon Active directory integration over LDAP protocol Visitor management Visitor management kiosk in cloud Custom report builder In addition, Access Expert keeps customers current with automatic updates, automatic backups and automatic redundancy that is not available in other platforms.
Organisations utilise the cloud for existing applications, including data storage, HR, email and security According to a new study commissioned by Schneider Electric, companies across industries are increasingly leveraging the cloud for security applications, with 42 percent of respondents indicating they currently run security applications in the cloud and almost half (45 percent) stating they are likely or extremely likely to transition security operations to the cloud in the future. Cloud applications Organisations utilise the cloud for existing applications, including data storage, human resources, email and security – and are eager to continue adopting it for security operations. 57 percent of respondents believe the cloud is secure, with IT and technology professionals having the most confidence (78 percent), followed by education (70 percent), construction (68 percent) and financial services (52 percent). However, some sceptics remain, with 18 percent of respondents indicating they do not trust the cloud. Security systems and emerging technology Nearly three-fourths of respondents said network security is an important feature for security systems in their organisations. While the state of security continues to advance, respondents indicate security systems are not where they should be in order to adopt emerging technologies (54 percent) and despite business leaders being supportive of emerging technology (95 percent), many barriers to adoption exist. Organisational/administrative barriers such as procedures, lack of perceived value and ROI were the top barriers identified that are inhibiting organisations from achieving their security goals. Almost 80 percent feel it is important to integrate security systems with other buildings and IT systems Integrated security systems While integration remains an obstacle to achieving security goals, almost 80 percent feel it is important to integrate security systems with other buildings and IT systems as part of an organisation’s cloud strategy. Currently, photo ID badging, active directory, intrusion and CCTV are the top four systems that organisations integrate into their security systems. The two top non-security systems organisations currently integrate with their security systems are automation and lighting. “Leveraging the cloud for security applications is becoming increasingly accepted – and required – as we move into a 24/7 digital world,” said Steven Turney, Security Programme Manager, Schneider Electric. “Especially for companies where security management improvements are imminent, it makes sense to consider innovation at every level of their organisation to meet their security needs. As businesses are required to be more agile, the cloud helps to unify and simplify security measures so an organisation’s data, people and assets are constantly protected.”