Heightening Field Operations
Cutting through the noise with a centralized interface to prioritize alarms
- By Simon Morgan
- Aug 01, 2022
Security operations centers are undergoing dramatic changes as operators add hundreds of sources, systems and devices, creating a cacophony of alarms – enough to overwhelm the best-trained staff. The sheer number of alarms can delay response times and let events go undetected, putting an organization’s employees, assets and reputation at risk.
Today’s next-generation cloud-based physical security information management systems (PSIMs) cut through the noise with a simple-to-use centralized interface that prioritizes alarms while providing valuable tools to maximize positive security outcomes. PSIM mobile apps, combined with field teams’ smartphones, create a communications link that keeps all security team members connected in real-time. SOC operators can view and track the comings and goings of their entire field team using a familiar Google Maps interface displayed within the PSIM.
An app automatically tracks all smartphone-carrying field team members providing command center operators with a constant awareness of precisely where everyone is located – including officers and guards, parking lot attendants, lobby staff and customer liaisons. When emergencies strike, the PSIM app extends the reach of the security operations center, enabling everyone on the security team to share information for a rapid and accurate response. Within seconds, the field team is up-to-date and ready to assist.
A smartphone app enables mobile users to send alarms to the SOC by attaching written and verbal notes, photos and videos to heighten the team’s overall understanding of events. SOC operators, using widescreen monitors or mobile field teams with smartphones, may access the same live or recorded data. Operators click a button to share an event with the nearest team. A push notification immediately provides all the essential details, actions and even directions to the event site.
A PSIM mobile app provides other vital capabilities, including:
- Enabling field staff to update their status. All team members have a real-time view of who is nearby and available to help.
- The ability to stream nearby cameras, right from the phone.
- Permitting field teams to share information via chat messages when a situation requires silent communications.
Next-gen PSIMs track all communications in a time-date audit trail. This data is vital for after-event review and performance improvement. Training a field team to use a next-gen PSIM mobile app is easy. Nearly everyone uses smartphones for activities, such as updating a home security/automation system, checking the weather forecast or updating a game score.
The app makes it easy to share information with other organization stakeholders when events, including an active shooter, assault or chemical spill occur. Using familiar push alerts, stakeholders can receive an immediate notification of alarms that may impact them as well as status changes of key assets. Using the app, field team members on routine patrol can report potentially dangerous situations such as unlocked doors, burnt-out light bulbs and loitering.
Next-gen PSIMs use action plans as a way to quickly enforce pre-determined standard operating procedures for varied workflows. These plans may include precise orders, more general directives for various threats and countermeasures to maintain security in threatened areas. Within some organizations, field teams may require data related to executive protection or the summoning of lobby staff for service requests.
For years, field teams relied on two-way radios linking them to command center operators. Radios required the operations team to build a mind map of all field teams’ precise locations and status. It takes a talented and experienced SOC team to keep all the moving parts coordinated and makes scaling an operation incredibly challenging.
Field staff may not be all an organization needs to track. A next-gen PSIM enables administrators to add and label static devices, including pull stations, automated external defibrillators, company vehicles, onsite generators and more, to the interactive map.
Today’s next-gen PSIM technology and smartphone app are available in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, eliminating the need for expensive onsite servers. Software updates are automatic without any service disruption or downtime and systems quickly scale as an organization’s needs grow and change.
Offered as a subscription service, PSIMs provides easily customizable solutions and can begin leveraging the power of field operations within hours. Next-gen PSIM platforms are also:
- Vendor-neutral and capable of integrating with best-of-breed systems and devices.
- Capable of reducing more than 90% of false alarms that take SOC and field team attention away from events needing a response.
Organizations using a next-gen PSIM gain heightened situational awareness by leveraging a wide variety of the latest artificial intelligence, mapping, access control, IoT, and a vast ecosystem of business systems – bringing this all into a single security operation interface. A PSIM eliminates many of the tedious and time-consuming tasks involved with managing the vast quantities of data generated by disparate systems.
Reliable communication is vital to protecting the safety and security of people and assets. With the power of the SOC in the hands of field teams, organizations of any size are ready to respond to events quickly and effectively. A mobile app linking the command center and field teams creates efficiencies, helps teams make better-informed decisions and delivers a greater return on an organization’s security investment.
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2022 issue of Security Today.