Surveillance Strategies / Columns

How to Implement Advanced Surveillance Training Policies

Some of the most challenging needs facing decision makers in today’s networked surveillance come after the initial deployment. After the selection and installation of hardware, software and camera providers, many begin to realize the benefits of the new system. This involves utilizing the new technologies within a framework of existing training policies, with the objective of exploiting the greatest capabilities of the system.

Yet, the most commonly missed element, or underestimated impact is advanced surveillance training, which is often thought of as a small requirement, and thus is given for free or a very low fee.  The trainer ends up being under-prepared, and this typically leads to no real learning. When it is given a higher priority and better resources, the focus is likely on the technology, product or hardware. This approach has little to do with actually creating value or enabling benefits for end users. 

So, why is training standing in the way of these benefits being realized? The answer is simple: If the existing operators are given a completely new system, with new technology, yet old policies, the results are that the new system’s capabilities are not used, which most likely was the major reason the system was purchased. With much of the investment and research and development activities going into creating new technologies and features, the decision makers must match that investment with training activities that are designed to increase usage competencies. The most important policy that decision makers can make when migrating to new technologies and systems is to require that all users are properly trained and certified competent with the new system. This simple, yet difficult-to-implement policy is directly proportional to the successful realization of the promised benefit of new technologies and systems. 


Explicit Policy: “Training Required”

The first thing that this policy will ensure is that users must be trained on the system prior to gaining access. The difficulty in the implementation of this policy is it requires that the policy makers develop the training program. This requires both knowledge of the new technologies and systems as well as a detailed understanding of the operations and users. These make up the three building blocks of this policy. It’s comparatively easier to learn technology, because it is typically well documented.  However, some security operations are less documented, making them more difficult to train on. For training purposes, users of the system are typically grouped together into similar functions or roles to keep their learning requirements similar. The challenge will be deciding which one to start with and the amount of time to dedicate to each area.


Step 1: Operations

Security operations are where the best programs start, not only during the planning and development phase of the policy, but also in the actual implementation of the training program.  Security operations are the area in which the benefits of the new system will have their greatest impact, and yet it typically has the least amount of supporting documentation. However, if sufficient effort is spent mapping out the impacted security operations and expected changes, the training program will have its starting point and reason for being. This is critical to all other aspects of the training program because of the way adults learn.


Step 2: Users

The users of the system typically are overlooked. Most training programs rush into the features and technologies. The problem with that approach is that adults learn things that are important to them. Without involving them in the learning process and understanding what the user does and how they think about what they are learning, training will almost always miss the point and be relatively ineffective in actually transferring skills and competencies. However, if this critical step is implemented early in the training process, the rate at which users learn and their retention levels significantly increase.


Step 3: New Technology and System

The final deliverable of a highly effective training program should be the relevancy of the new technologies to the users being trained. Spending significant time on using the system in contextual operational settings continues to be the most effective way to train. This often requires a real, or similarly-staged training environment that mimics what the real system would look and feel like. This way, the users are not only attending but are also an active component in the training environment. Users increase their operational competency levels, and they start to visualize how they will work with the system. It also creates an environment in which they are motivated and excited to succeed, which will promote confidence to explore new capabilities of the system and continue the learning process in a self-directed way. 

With significant investments being made to create advanced surveillance technologies and systems, decision makers need to increase their investments into policies and human capital to be able to leverage the operational benefits that come with these new systems.   

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