Testing and Trying Your Security Decisions

Ray Dean

The role of the security director has changed dramatically over the last several years. I can remember a time, pre-9/11, when getting a budget, no less a substantial budget, was a security director’s greatest challenge. I recall an article by a friend of mine, Erica Harrison, in which she aptly described the emergence of the security director’s role as moving his office “out from under the staircase.” That description pretty much says it all and brings to mind what the director’s role in the corporate hierarchy was…not always mind you…but by and large.

Today’s’ corporate security director is a critical member of the “C” suite. He plays a major role in the daily life of the corporation. He is expected to anticipate potential issues, help guide facility planning, assist in managing the travel plans of senior executives and guide a “state of the art” security planning process. In short…he needs to…and is depended on…to know it all.

What to Choose…

One of the many major issues facing today’s security director revolves around the selection of security hardware. What may appear at first glance to be a relatively simple task is not. The selection and implementation process can be a very slippery slope for today’s practitioner. From physical to logical access, from a standard camera to “intelligent” video, or from a simple ID card to a multi credential “smart” card...decisions need to be made. And you – the security director – will be held accountable for those decisions.

I believe the answer is all about testing and trying. Let’s say you see a product that you believe will “fit” and solve a problem for you. Should you buy it? The first question is always about the financial commitment. Small items are no big deal. Make a mistake with little financial impact and no one cares. Make a mistake with major financial impact, and resume writing could be your next task.

Try It On First!

Let’s use “intelligent” video as an example. You’re thinking of installing several cameras to view your parking lots. Depending on the cameras and the intelligent attributes you are looking at, each camera may run you several thousand dollars to purchase, and several thousand more to install. How do you make a smart decision?

I recommend you work with your systems integrator and the manufacturer. Get them to give you a loaner of the product for testing and evaluation – in your own environment. In the case of a small item, you may have to buy one. However, you will usually find that the higher the cost of the product, the greater the possibility of getting a loaner for testing purposes. Then, put the product through its paces. Verify that it performs as expected. Test it under your worst possible scenarios. Bring in other members of your “C” suite, check their reactions and opinions. Remember, politics counts and does play a role in daily corporate life.

Once you’re absolutely sure of a products performance, make your purchase with confidence. As a security director in today’s world, you always have to be right!

About the Columnist
Ray Dean, CPP, is the founder of PEI “The Security Engineers” - a 34-year-old New York City-based integration firm. He has served as Chairman of the NYC Chapter of ASIS and is a past president of SecurityNet. His company was acquired by Securitas Systems USA in November 2007 and he currently serves as VP of Enterprise Solutions. He can be reached at ray@peisystems.com

SIDEBAR: When Will Someone Establish Standardization?

So many of us have mentioned, talked about, or complained that there is a lack of standardization in the industry, and that someone should really take the bull by the horns and implement a system standard. Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems and Sony Corporation are jockeying the bull as you read this.

Axis, Bosch and Sony are to cooperate to standardize network video products’ interfaces. This new standard will offer increased flexibility to integrators and end-users of network video equipment. In developing such a standard, the companies will attempt to establish:
  • Cooperation in the security industry to begin a global open standard for the interface of network video products.
  • Interoperability between different vendors’ products to simplify installation of network video products regardless of brand.
  • Greater freedom for end-users when choosing equipment, resulting in more cost-effective and flexible solutions.
  • Creation of an open forum for further development of the new standard.
Currently, there is no global standard defining how network video products such as cameras, video encoders and video management systems should communicate with each other. The new standard is expected to comprise interfaces for specifications such as video streaming, device discovery, intelligence metadata, etc. The framework of the standard, incorporating the key elements of network video product interoperability, will be released in October 2008 at the Security show in Essen, Germany.

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