Ask the Expert
This month’s expert addresses security issues faced by multinational organizations
- By John Krumme
- Jan 01, 2008
Businesses that had offices in five states across the country 20 years ago may now have operations on five continents around the world. Today’s global economy offers tremendous opportunities yet, at the same time, there are numerous challenges, especially in securing facilities in countries with different languages, cultures, currencies, laws, and building and fire codes.
ISSUE: How can businesses that operate in multiple countries maintain a high level of security?
SOLUTION: One way to handle the security situation is to operate each facility as a standalone location with its own video surveillance, access control system and command center. The end user can work with a local dealer/integrator—familiar with local ordinances—to put the system in place, provide training and ongoing support.
But most multinational companies already have a global IT network. IT can be extremely beneficial, providing the means to bring security systems together worldwide. In years past, it was not uncommon for the security director to be reluctant to approach the company IT department to solicit help and input regarding the creation of the physical security infrastructure. Today, those networks are in place, and IT embraces security being a part of the network.
Security has helped justify the continued investment in a company’s IT network. The 9/11 tragedy elevated worldwide security in the eyes of CEOs, COOs, CFOs and CIOs. Security directors and facilities managers now educate themselves on the company’s IT capabilities. In many cases, IT has partially funded security projects. The ability for a company’s IT, security and facilities departments to work together has made it possible for security systems located in Seattle and St. Louis, for example, to work with those in Sydney, Australia, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
ISSUE: What challenges might a company face when implementing a standardized, multinational security system?
SOLUTION: A standardized system makes it easier to provide each office with the same high level of security and safety necessary to protect employees, property and sensitive business data.
However, the acceptance of security equipment can vary greatly from country to country. For example, there are few laws in the United Kingdom regulating an employer from monitoring employees with a video surveillance system. The United Kingdom is the world’s video surveillance capital, with more than 4 million cameras monitoring public areas.
Meanwhile, in Germany, courts have held that video surveillance interferes with employee rights and puts workers under constant pressure. Public surveillance cameras also have been ruled to be an infringement on individual rights. In Italy, cameras can monitor employees only with the permission of the unions or a government agency. After public surveillance cameras were installed in Tokyo, police posted signs that notified people they were being monitored after a number of civil libertarians complained.
ISSUE: How does an end user sift through different laws and customs, settle on a common security system design, have multiple systems installed and serviced and get staff training in multiple countries?
SOLUTION: The best way is to begin work in the United States with an integrator that has close partnerships with other leading integrators around the world. Then, do not simply settle for loose working agreements between the integrators. They should contractually agree to what is to be done and when the system will be operational. Make sure they meet regularly to discuss technology, installation and training issues. Ideally, the U.S. integrator will serve as the main contact to ensure the foreign job is being completed on time and according to specifications.
With proper planning and assistance of a well-connected integrator, it is possible to create a truly integrated global security system.
READER QUESTION: We are going to replace our outdated security system and have formed a team within the company to determine our needs. It was suggested that we bring in an independent security consultant to do an analysis of our plant and make recommendations. The thought process was that a consultant would have no ties to specific equipment manufacturers and would offer an unbiased opinion. That being said, I cannot locate a security consultant in my area. One opinion is to bring in three or four security integrators, tell them what we want, and see what they offer. Hopefully, we will get enough information that we can pick one of them to install the system we need. Any input?
SOLUTION: There are different ways to go about selecting an expert to help plan your security needs. A consultant is one option. But working with a systems integrator is another very viable choice. Ask for advice from no more than three in your area. Their qualifications should include factory-trained technicians on staff, five years’ experience with similar systems and guaranteed response times to your service calls.
The systems integrator that you select will ensure that your security system is consistent throughout your buildings. Review their scopes of work, drawings and hardware implementation lists. You must have an understanding that your security integrator’s project manager serves as your hammer to ensure product and project consistency. You develop that relationship with your integrator by visiting their sites and speaking to their customer references. You must be willing to pay for this professionalism. You can always find a security dealer who is less expensive, but do they have factory-certified technicians? Do they have the ability to create engineered drawings? Long term, you will pay more for corrections in the first 24 months than if you paid a fair price at the beginning of your project.
Your security systems integrator will provide you with equipment choices. Your ultimate hardware decision should be based on what works best in your environment. A well-designed, seamlessly integrated security management system is feature-rich. If you are replacing an existing system, compatibility issues may drive the selection of your new system. Further, you may be attempting to achieve hardware/software consistency throughout your buildings by replacing one system and purchasing a product that is identical to an existing system where you have a high comfort level. Always ensure that the manufacturer that is recommended to you allows you a migration path for your anticipated growth.