A Key Role

A Key Role

Data Reporting and Dispatching Features Essential for Converged Security Systems

The city of Calgary in southern Alberta, Canada has achieved international acclaim with its annual Calgary Stampede and its legacy of world-class sporting facilities and events. Along with this reputation, the city also has made a name for itself as a leader in creating a 21st century security operations strategy that centralizes its municipal security tasks— cyber, logical and physical—to better protect its approximately 1.1 million residents, 22,000 employees, and more than 750 sites and critical infrastructure units including transit and water services.

Playing a critical role among the advanced technology solutions the city uses to help develop and establish this innovative plan, PPM’s enterprise incident management software solution is used across the municipality’s 32 different business units for cross-divisional tracking, dispatching/reporting, investigation, and analysis of incidents and events. The software, Perspective by PPM, pulls all of these various areas together within a single work group structure so that incidents and events across any of the business units can be managed in one centralized hub.

Owen Key is the city’s chief security officer/chief information security officer as well as the chief architect of the unified security operations strategy. The incident management software, with its innovative reporting tools and interactive dashboard, has been an integral part of his initiative uniting the functions of the various security departments. These include information security, internal investigations, physical security and emergency management as well as a security advisory group to ensure the departments perform collectively and in a cohesive manner.

“Incident management software gives us far better insight into the operations of this complex municipal environment,” Key said. “We can do drilldowns on information from sites to business units to types of incidents that are occurring. Just about whatever you can imagine is possible, including tracking incidents in regard to our information security.”

Using the city’s centralized repository, information from all of the systems (i.e. video surveillance, incident reports, access, fire and alarm, etc.) is stored and available for business units to run queries and build their business intelligence. The stored data is also used for analysis or investigation utilizing the incident management software. As an example, incidents in one of the city’s public buildings can be matched with any number of criteria such as audio, financial, or even people counting to look for building utilization. Additionally, the city has been able to use other aspects of the incident management software to maximize internal resources. Key said that Perspective’s dispatching capabilities were centralized throughout the organization to enable enterprise-wide alarm response and more efficient and proactive dispatching of guard services and resources.

He also said that while incident management improves security in any large enterprise including medical, education or transportation facilities, information analysis can also provide the ammunition needed to help obtain further resources to protect assets. He cites the example of a city recreation center suffering from repeated vandalism, where data from the incident management software can provide the justification for a request for further capital expenditures such as video surveillance cameras.

“The numbers and the information are there and when we need to make a presentation we can do so with a two or three-page report, with graphics, that paints a picture of the situation—whether it’s a request for additional video surveillance cameras for a recreation center or for our annual report to the corner office,” he said. “Perspective is excellent in this regard because it gives us the numbers to allow us to get our point across quickly and concisely. We can be collaborative with the business units and realistically identify the risks. That is something everyone can understand and get on board with.”

The successful adoption of the centralized security program by city employees is also attributable to the integration capabilities of the various sub-systems. Key points out, it wouldn’t take too long for information overload to set in or for the system to completely bog down if software solutions were simply added without any integration capability. The ability to integrate and control the various systems under a single platform, either through PSIM or SEIM solutions, has helped deliver improved situational awareness while eliminating the problems of false alarms or false information.

Key’s strategy of focusing on technology interoperability has been effective in harmonizing policies and procedures and providing information that is useful for both routine and irregular situations. As IT and security networked systems continue their convergence, this strategy, and PPM’s enterprise incident management software, is the right solution to maintain the flow of vital and useful data.

This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Security Today.

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