By Steve Green, Business Development Manager, Genetec
University campuses are open environments, where safety and security controls often need to coexist with accessibility of spaces and freedom of movement. These competing physical and operational conditions require a nuanced security strategy that aims to build a culture of safety while respecting the privacy and accessibility of its users.
The answer is unification
To improve security and operational efficiency, the main focus has traditionally been on system integration. This involves bringing different security elements together, including video management, access control, automatic license plate recognition, communications, and intrusion detection. Unfortunately, integrating multiple systems does not necessarily mean they will be able to operate together as a unified system.
Unification is a more effective strategy. In a unified system, all the devices share the same back-end interface.The result is a security solution that not only looks like a single system but functions like one as well. A unified system like, Genetec Security Center, provides everything security personnel need within a single hub to help them enhance campus safety and effectively respond to events. Here are three reasons why unified security must be considered:
Unification improves efficiency
The standard setup for security departments using an integrated system usually involves assigning a single responsibility to each operator. One operator may be responsible for watching video, while another may be in charge of monitoring access control systems (ACS). Following this structure, each workstation has a central monitor that the operator uses to interface with their assigned system. But, because the systems are integrated, operations can become complicated when security personnel have to move between them to complete tasks.
Operators may need to use their video system for indentity verification before they grant access through the ACS, but efficiency suffers when these systems do not communicate with each other. Moving between digital or physical workstations reduces visibility as teams lose the full view of their jurisdiction, and a serious consequence of this is that operators can miss alarms or incidents in one system while they are completing tasks in another.
Unification can eliminate these problems and improve efficiency. For instance, workstations can be set up to allow operators either to monitor all systems at once or to focus on one system while still being able to move seamlessly into another. With a unified system, granting access through a door is a simple as looking at the video and then clicking one button to let someone in.
Unification reduces false alarms
Being a security operator isn’t easy. Every day, countless issues large and small demand their attention, while at the same time, the list of things they have to keep track of continues to grow. What operators do find challenging in this environment is dealing with false alarms.
Traditionally, security personnel had to acknowledge these alarms, including fire and panic, by going over to a panel in the command centre and hitting the alarm. With an integrated system, the alarms no longer require that operators move to the alarm panel. However, depending on the setup, they might have to switch workstations or toggle from one system to another to acknowledge and deal with them.
With a unified platform, security personnel don’t have to leave their workstation station or the system they’re monitoring to acknowledge incoming alarms. With Genetec Security Center, they can go straight into a mapping interface to acknowledge them. The unified system also allows operators to more efficiently verify whether or not they are dealing with a false alarm.
Unification streamlines investigations
Unifed security systems also help streamline post-event investigations. With a unified system, searching for an event or incident is done in one system. This greatly simplifies and speeds up the process because video, access control, communication, and other sensor data can all be found in one place. All the data in the system is also bookmarked in time, which makes it easy for personnel to find and view the evidence relevant to the investigation.
Moreover, connecting a digital evidence management system (DEMS) can help security operators build further on that efficiency by speeding up criminal investigations, enabling the secure collection, management and sharing of evidence with law enforcement.
During this process, operators must ensure they protect the privacy of all individulas involved. With the KiwiVision Privacy Protector module of Security Center, operators can ensure the privacy of individuals recorded by the video surveillance system while safeguarding potential evidence.
It dynamically anonymises individuals in the camera's field of view without obscuring actions and movements. Using permissions, operators can also control which operator can review the original footage. If an incident occurs, authorised operators can access it directly from the Security Center monitoring interface.
Unification helps enhance cybersecurity posture
The higher education sector will always be a prime target to hackers. Mainly because the attack surface is so large. Every device connected to the Internet is a potential target at any given time – even physical security devices such as access control systems and surveillance cameras.
A higher education institute can run hundreds, if not thousands of cameras across mutilple campuses, making it extremelly difficult to manage. If the firmware on one single video surveillance camera is out of date, the entire IT network can be at risk of a cyber-attack. Campuses must ensure they have the appropriate safeguards in place to prevent such attacks from happening.
A unified security platform like Genetec Security Center, can help in this regard, as cybersecurity is already applied and updated across all physical security components. Operators can rely on a camera firmware update service (i.e. Firmware Vault) within Security Centre to streamline the camera firmware update process, so that they can implement the latest cybersecurity protection measures as soon as they become available.
When new camera firmware is available, security teams are notified in Security Center. This allows them to track and download new firmware packages and the latest manufacturer cybersecurity protection measures for the connected cameras in a matter of minutes. The Firmware Vault allows users to have a unified view of all cameras and their update status so that they can take corrective action more quickly and efficiently.
Bringing systems together is a smart move for higher educational campuses. By focusing on unification, they can protect their facilities as they improve operations and enhance safety. Fortunately, this work is already happening within the industry.