The evolution of modern security technologies may seem like a daunting task to grasp. Security directors are inundated and often confused by all that is available.

Sometimes, we even have a hard time deciding the best choice and how to go about budgeting, planning, implementing, and then operationally executing the tools at our disposal to meet the company’s security needs and business mission.  

It is without a doubt that security technologies can be scary. We have hundreds and possibly thousands of options, and I often find people asking me, where do I begin? I also hear people tell me that they’ve inherited a security technology system that is not unified or integrated and is made up of various software and hardware products. 

Complicating this, even more, is the information technology architecture and network, and the lack of internal coordination between departments. It is common to see that these are often two compartmentalized functions in a business when it should be a combined effort based on the maturity of the modern Internet of Things (IoT) and the collaborative nature technology requires today. 

Furthermore, it seems that departments often compete for finite resources, and if the case can’t be made to spend on a technology product, then it must wait for the next budget cycle.  

The sad but honest truth is that security spending is personality (business owner) and priority-driven. Although security and safety are viewed as the top concern by the public, it is not always viewed as a need and often falls below the line during spending decisions.   

Over the last several years, including the pandemic period, it became clear that technologies that can work together and meet an objective are extremely valuable to security and safety. We saw this with all the efforts to track COVID or manage tight indoor spaces.  

We also hear and often speak about seamless integration. This is something I often wonder about and question. From a commonsense standpoint, products produced by different companies that operate with open APIs are a good start, but the truth is that software like art is creative and individually derived.  

Now, this doesn’t mean true integration is impossible, but from a realistic perspective, when one technology is combined with another outside of the development process, there is a tremendous amount of testing that needs to take place to meet the intent for its use. As a reminder, technology is driven by the use case and the end state result or product. 

In addition, every business has a vision and a mission. I like to use the phrase “if you’ve seen one stadium, you’ve seen one stadium,” meaning every facility may have similarities, but, in the end, they are all different and will require a different technological solution based on the problem they intend to solve. So, where do we go from here?  

Based on the advancement of technology solutions and the ability to integrate at acceptable levels, there is a framework that security directors, working with key stakeholders in their organization, can use to help them make the right decisions in the end. That framework is a simple layering of foundational pillars for all security technology design, keeping in mind the basic ideas of surveillance and control. 

Those pillars are:

  1. A visualization capability that forms the backbone and system that brings the opportunity for “bolt-on” technologies to exist in the ecosystem. This is the user interface/user experience (UI/UX) ability to aggregate the systems and data and becomes the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) foundation. This critical decision will enable you to add the additional pillars easily. The unification and integration “brain” of the system is one you should research; once you have this decision made, the implementation company can support decisions for the remaining pillars based on need and budget. 
  2. Video surveillance system (VSS).  
  3. Access control platform that includes automated and keyless locking capability  
  4. Traffic access management platform
  5. Drone detection and monitoring    

This simple playbook is “a way” to think about building your technology tools to support the overall goals of the security program. These pillars help to alleviate the stress associated with the overwhelming options available. Knowing where to start is more than half the struggle, and it gives you the freedom to research those tools in the market that meet your intent for the technology, which leads to my final points. 

Remember, technology is your security program’s capital investment, but it is not the first decision in the program’s overall comprehensive, layered, and integrated approach. You must think carefully about what you are trying to protect, the vulnerabilities associated with known critical assets, and the risk you are willing to accept. 

In the end, your risk response is a thoughtful process that balances avoidance, acceptance, mitigation, and transfer, and your upfront assessment work will help guide you to the technology solution.

Security program development in which technology plays a role is not scary. Simply understanding what is available and how you want to use it will greatly support your decisions. Ideally, this process is done in design and planned in a manner I call “future-proofing,” but our facilities, venues, and buildings likely already exist in the built environment. If this is the case, a phased approach with leadership backing is needed to follow this framework to get the process moving.  

The truth is that all technology has an end-of-life (EOL) time window. Update your current system, it will take time, but it can be done if you develop a technology roadmap based on the EOL.  

So, dive into your system. Find the pain points you want to relieve and get started. Once you have a plan, it will be rewarding to see it to the end. 

Let’s keep the conversation going!   

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.