Technology Enabling Security By Mark Folmer

Threats are omnipresent. Local or international – we hear about incidents across all platforms: on social media, in mainstream traditional media and others. The challenges that this brings to frontline security officers are knowing how to tackle these threats – given their sheer volume – and discerning which ones to act on or react to.

One thing that is clear is that traditional management of security services will no longer cut it in a day-to-day environment that is littered with threats. Traditional security service items are as important as they always have been, but there is a need, fuelled by today’s digital revolution, for security firms to transition from being “manpower/staffing providers” to “security insight” databases. This data is coming in handy for security planning purposes.

The following article will touch on how the tech revolution is helping frontline teams contribute to security programs more efficiently through incident recognition, prevention and response tools.

Unrealistic expectations on frontline guards.

Frontline security teams are a key component in the security arsenal as they help secure identified assets. On the flip side, security teams’ labour intensive composition also makes them expensive and in dire need of optimization.

Nonetheless, every security guard is always expected to be ON. They are to be vigilant, customer focused, detail oriented, professional and full of integrity. They often bear the brunt of the public’s comments as people struggle to balance the need for security and their desire for convenience and safety. We all want to be safe but don’t think about what goes into keeping us safe. It can mean the difference between life or death: in 2015, for instance, a security guard thwarted a suicide bombing attempt by carrying out a routine check on the bomber during a France-Germany friendly soccer game.

The guard’s role is often to apply all of the rules and juggle the external expectations set for them, and to do so rightly every time. Now consider the volume of tasks they perform, the number of people they interact with, and slowly it becomes clear why it’s tough to be right every single time. Specially considering industry issues such as turnover, short staffing, and lack of resources, frontline security staff cannot be expected to be perfect unless they get some help!

5Ds of physical security.

Those that design physical security plans often stick to the 5Ds, they are:

  • Deter – Make the target so unattractive that the criminal goes elsewhere
  • Detect – If someone penetrates a secured area, ensure that they are spotted
  • Deny – Keep the bad folks out and allow the good people in!
  • Delay – If someone gets in, slow them down
  • Defend – Respond to a breach

There is a widely accepted principle in physical security that states, detection without response is not detection. In short, if you detect an issue but do nothing about it then the detection is ultimately useless.

Since the ‘response’ falls on the shoulders of physical security teams, the ones that we described earlier as having unrealistic expectations set on them, the ones who are under immense pressure to be ‘always on,’ security breaches are frequent. Today with the advent of technology, there is help in store for frontline teams, powered by business intelligence tools, to be at the right place at the right time.

The disruption is via technology.

Technology currently helps security teams detect, document, investigate and deter intrusion. But in fact, technology is capable of supporting frontline security teams in many more instances, namely with: accuracy, transparency and alignment.

You can look at technology in many ways but two of those would be – as an enhancer and as a replacer. I prefer to focus on security technology as an enhancer to security programs and a few instances where technology is enhancing frontline security operations include:

  • License Plate Recognition (LPR) software – helps a guard identify banned or pre-approved vehicles from a site – quickly. (ANPR in the U.K. – Ed.)
  • Facial Recognition technology – identifies individuals of interest and prompts a security response such as being weary of false negatives and responding appropriately to false positives.
  • Access Control Readers – augments the ‘deny features’ of a security program by letting the good people in and keeping the bad out (being mindful of the credential management as opposed to the identity management).
  • Workforce Management (WFM) software – enhances the management of guard shifts and schedules with relative ease and pinpoint accuracy.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technology – teaches connected devices to discern between good and bad, what requires a response and what does not by considering identity management across many platforms.

Having the tools in place to enhance your security operations, you also need to be able to analyse the data collected from those tools and put them into practice. In today’s world of business intelligence, analytics and return on investment, you have to consider the value of the data that is generated by your security teams and then persevere to measuring their return on data (ROD). This metric will help you understand the value that your security data brings to an organisation.

Being alert all the time.

The industry is changing, and as a frontline security professional, you have access to a variety of tools that enhance what you do. These tools if properly aligned with the risk assessment of the facility or client location you are protecting, will help you and your frontline teams to be “always on.”

Subsequently, consider the impact of data. Data allows you to measure, prevent and respond properly. Being able to properly capture the data means that you can structure it and show the value of what security offers. Because there are high demands from security teams – to properly respond to criminal and terrorist incidents as and when they occur – using data as a guide to learn how and when to respond is key.

Keep in mind, that you may always need to be right, but someone attacking your facility needs to right only once!

Mark Folmer, CPP, FSyI

Mark Folmer, CPP, FSyI

Mark was named to the prestigious IFSEC Global influencers list in 2018: Security Thought Leadership”.

A world renown data-driven Operations & Security leadership expert, he is based in Canada and is the Vice President, Security, for TrackTiK, a cutting edge tech company.

Mark is also a lecturer, and commentator on global security issues.