Getting More from Your Data
Plan a head start by maximizing your unified physical security information
- By Charles Pitman
- Sep 18, 2023
Security organizations are sitting on a goldmine of data collected by cameras, VMS, access control systems (ACS), automated license plate recognition (ALPR), intrusion systems and other connected devices. With the rise of analytics, security data can do more than help protect assets or investigate crimes. It can be a core element in the digital transformation of your business processes and operations.
Having sufficient data management and structure is key to unlocking the value of this physical security data. Using a unified platform as a foundation is the first step. A unified platform provides access to data from different sources in one central interface to streamline security operations and enhance overall visibility. This data can also be used for other broader business goals.
Start with a Unified Security Environment
Security systems often start with video surveillance functions and expand over time to include capabilities, such as access control and ALPR. As security capabilities grow, organizations quickly discover the need to integrate data among systems. For example, they want to share data to manage security policies, monitor events, and run investigations. Ideally, teams want to do so without switching back and forth between systems.
Data integration may start as a collection of systems. But, over time, organizations often find it easier to migrate to one platform that is built to handle all their data needs. This requires a shift from siloed, standalone systems to a unified platform.
A unified platform provides a complete picture of what is happening across the entire organization at any given moment, all from one interface. Since employees do not have to switch between systems, there is also enhanced functionality and ease of use. Employees gain productivity since they only must learn and use one system to get the information they need.
A unified platform makes that data more accessible and easier to explore. For example, if all your “door open” warnings are coming from the same three doors, perhaps those sensors need to be adjusted or the locks changed. If you see people pushing through certain doors incorrectly, you could install instructional signage to reduce the number of “open door” alerts and staff responses.
Once your organization begins to use an open, unified security platform, you can extend the reach of your data to seamlessly include other non-security systems. Devices or sensors that use a standard data protocol can be integrated with your security platform to unify data and highlight opportunities for operational efficiency. This is how your team can begin to realize additional business opportunities through your security system.
Discover Business Opportunities Tied to Your Security Data
Most security data is used in reactive ways to find intruders, monitor traffic incidents or handle investigations. However, this data is a rich asset that can be mined for more than targeted security purposes.
Organizations can start with a strategy to discover and deliver this data to the right people at the right time, using their unified platform. Analytics can be applied to turn data into actionable insights and measure processes across a range of use cases.
Both video analytics and data analytics are essential for exploring information and gaining insights. Video analytics parse continuous video footage into discrete events, such as detecting intruders, counting people, tracking objects or producing an alarm based on certain types of anomalies. Video analytics make it easier for operators to comb through hours of footage by looking for specific events.
Data analytics take a broader look at events and data coming from across your physical security systems to glean insights from them. Using data analytics, operators can find trends, uncover opportunities and help improve processes.
For example, security systems gather information about which parts of a building are accessed at certain times of the day. Enterprises can integrate this information with data from other systems and IoT, such as those that track room temperature, air quality and lighting usage. By integrating these systems with security data, facility managers can maintain more precise control of the environment. This could include optimal heating and cooling temperatures based on building usage. Facility teams may schedule lighting based on when rooms are occupied – saving time and energy.
In a retail environment, organizations can use video analytics and access control data for people counting, which helps them manage resources and improve sales. They can monitor the total number of customers in a store or track the length of checkout lines to identify when additional staff is required. This helps avoid long delays at checkout lines and improves the shopping experience.
For large establishments like stadiums, hospitals, airports, and corporate campuses, traffic bottlenecks are a major issue. Data and video analytics captured by ALPR systems help maintain the flow of vehicles by alerting staff to emerging issues and deploying resources as needed.
But ALPR data can deliver a range of other non-traffic related insights too. For example, if the data from a venue’s parking lot indicates a lot of out-of-state visitors, the marketing team can use this information for targeted promotional campaigns.
The use of analytics helps organizations move their physical security systems beyond the initial purpose of protecting people and assets. Organizations can tap into the full potential of IoT devices and equipment they already own, using data in new ways to streamline operations. The resulting actionable insights can change the way security and operation teams think about and manage data.
Making the Insights Easy to Understand
As the volume of data grows, you can find more ways to harness that information. To understand which insights and dashboard information is most important to your team, start by identifying the questions you are trying to answer.
Are you looking to find out why the security team in your office gets double the amount of ‘door open’ alerts from the same three doors? Who is parking in unauthorized spaces at your hospital? Which of your stores have long customer wait times?
Once you define the questions, identify who has access to the data that is needed to answer them and how that data can be accessed. The unified security platform becomes a central hub, turning physical security data into actionable insights. You can expand your contextual understanding of different business processes and answer an array of questions.
To make the resulting information easy to understand, consider customizable dashboards and graphical reports geared to specific users. These unique views enable each department or person to track the metrics that matter most to them, making it quicker and easier to spot problems and opportunities. An administrator, a facilities team, or a property manager can work with insights specific to their job.
Simplifying Complexities and Highlighting Opportunities
Bringing data into a unified platform that is already monitored makes it easier for operators to spot anomalies and opportunities that may have been overlooked in the past. If one team monitors operational systems and another team manages security systems, there is room for overlap and oversight.
For example, airports can connect baggage carousel data to their security systems to draw operators’ attention to where there might be an issue, such as a baggage carousel that is not functioning. Cities may connect IoT sensors in municipal garbage cans to know when to dispatch trucks for pickup. Retailers can tie data from point-of-sale systems to video footage to discover potential oddities in transactions or to enhance sales training. If these systems are not connected, teams may not recognize these efficiencies.
When all your physical security activities, functions and data are combined within the same interface you are able to better manage the flow of data across your security activities and other business processes. Your focus then shifts to strategic operations, and you can take proactive steps instead of only reacting to specific events.
A unified physical security system helps deliver insights that go far beyond improving security. It simplifies the complex moving parts of security, facilities and operations management.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2023 issue of Security Today.