What is the quintessential symbol of any organization’s security preparation? In my mind, it is clearly the command control or security operations center. When I walk into a stale command center and see half empty cups of cold coffee spilling out of the trash can, dusty operator desks and blurry video images blinking on hot TV monitors, the security group’s lack of preparation or empowerment is obvious. The command center sets the tone for the entire operation.

Compare that to the sense you get when you see a command center with clean floors, fresh air circulating and bright monitors graphically displaying security events accompanied by intelligent video feeds and incident response checklists. Now that’s a security operation equipped to get the job done!

And guess what? The bright modern command center is far less expensive to run than the older, dustier version. That’s because effective use of intelligent video, excellent software and automated incident response procedures make detecting and responding to events faster and easier for the security professionals manning desks and making rounds. When you have more information and respond faster and miss fewer problems, your security operation is saving loads of money caused by loss, injury, fraud or security violations. (Not to mention the savings in electricity and maintenance that intelligent security products supply.)

The entire point of a command center is to put the right information in front of the right pair of eyes. Constant blinking of blurry monitors will make even the most caffeinated eyeballs red and uncomprehending.

Efficiency in Microsoft’s GSOC

So what does it take to make a state of the art command center, while still being cost-effective? I asked Microsoft’s general manager of corporate security Mike Howard that question. Mike is leading an effort to make his company’s response to security events more efficient and effective. Soon, Microsoft’s 70,000 employees in eighty countries around the world will enjoy faster response to security events by regional command centers with global information sharing. He expects to speed up processes and streamline communication for domestic and international investigations, incident preparation and response, background checks and emergency response by employing software-based access control, incident management and video surveillance systems.

Software and data travel more cheaply than people. In the past, security consultants would fly from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. to points around the world to specify security for new buildings or to troubleshoot operational security problems. In a “regionalization model,” regional consultants, managers and investigators, working with the Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) and through satellite GSOCs aligned with the needs of the regional business units/leadership, make for a more integrated way to protect physical security services around the world. What the GSOC will do, overall, is use technology to project a security presence, response and monitoring capabilities into the regions. The concept is tied more closely to the business groups and better tuned to local needs and requirements of the company.

Innovations From Leading Companies

After hearing Mike Howard describe his GSOC innovations, I explored the world of security software looking for the most innovative products. I found ultra-efficient software in ioimage’s video appliances capturing important security events. Milestone Systems showed me elegant software for managing video from intelligent sources such as Axis cameras or Verint encoders. Various software devotees at the ASIS International event all sang the praises of Quintron’s open architecture for managing Mercury panels and coordinating access and communication globally. And I was impressed by the powerful geospatial data analysis from Intergraph but I was completely wowed by the intuitive correlation of security events and incident response procedures in software from Orsus. These are just a few of the best software-based solutions.

When I see a smart organization like Microsoft saving money while also doing security better and smarter, I see a role model inspiring all of us to work in the best interests of our companies prepared to tackle anything.