I joke about people who are easily distracted and enamored by shiny objects with flashing lights. I don’t feel guilty about teasing them as I used to react the same way each time I would see the latest DVR or the intelligence in the latest access control panel. Learning some painful lessons from over-promised solutions brought to market too fast, I am a self-proclaimed cynic. Still, I’m a closet techno dreamer who is unwilling to give up on the possibility that the promises of the glossy brochure will prove true (don’t tell anybody because being a cynic has its advantages). 

There is some great news. PSIM, VMS, identity management, and several other monikers that were once pipe dreams are actually delivering results for people. They really are highly valuable and much more than just the latest shiny fad. That said, before you jump at the new technology, look your organization in the mirror and ask yourself some important questions. 

1. Does it truly help the security officer or investigator? If that new solution doesn’t deter crime outright, you better be helping who is responsible for intervening or working on the recovery of a loss. If the technology just gives you more information and you still need a person to package and deliver the information, how much are you really gaining? A great video search engine reduces the average time to close investigations by reducing time spent reviewing useless data. A great duress system not only tells you where an event is occurring, it tells you who needs help and gives you two-way communication with the person. You can overrun your headlights implementing technology that is beyond your resources to keep your security officers trained and competent. Follow the solution through the entire process and consider what it really takes to make use of the data, how often it will be used, and the significance of the events it addresses.  

2. Have you leveraged your existing systems? Many of us are using ten percent of what our systems can do. You may lack the staffing needed to use the rest of the system. Will you have the resources to support a new solution? Push the integrators and manufacturers on what your current solution can really do. Check in with members of professional organizations and user groups. You might find the golden egg you are looking for is within your existing system if you reach out to the right partner. More than once I’ve found someone doing precisely what I had been told a system can’t do. 

3. Are your systems ready for integration? Before you can correlate and layer data together into a beneficial use case, you need systems that provide accurate data on the right assets. What is your rate of nuisance alarms? Are your cameras in the right locations and positions for analytics? Do you have the clearly defined business rules needed to build the hooks that tie your disparate systems together? Resolving and maintaining this information takes time and is critical for integration. Integration is complicated. Take the time to ensure all of the information you gain adds to performance and is not just more data.

4. Do you have a partnership with IT? IT is now involved in most every operation of business and if you partner with them you may find they’ll help you save money or better calculate the true cost of implementation. Before you consider going it alone installing a solution, consider your reaction if some department head starts putting security systems in your organization and doesn’t get you involved. Some of us may be grateful for the additions and most of us get defensive for lots of good reasons. Your IT partners have lots of good reasons to be defensive as well. Do you know the cost savings of a virtual server or virtual desktop? Does it matter if the system you are considering is IPv6 compliant? Is that software-only solution really only software only once you scale it up to your enterprise? If you don’t have a friend in IT, find one and start educating them on what you do. You’ll be surprised how much they appreciate you engaging them in early planning conversations on your needs. If IT understands and is involved in where you are headed, you have a much better shot at the network infrastructure being in place when you are ready for implementation.

Go ahead and enjoy the post exhibition and post sales call highs. Then pause before you pour yourself into that really cool solution. Make sure you are truly ready for shiny with lights.