Welcome to the first in a series of articles themed ‘Looking to the Future’ where I explore the challenges and opportunities that emerging technologies are driving across various industries. As always, my goal is to share my ideas, knowledge and experience to receive feedback and to continuously learn and improve from you.
This article, co-authored with industry expert Scott Taylor COO of Southern Cross Group, explores the various aspects of security from a cyber and physical perspective. Thank you Scott and let’s begin.
Throughout all my years in the industry I cannot remember a time when the world has been more aware of the need for security both online and off. The world and its risk landscape are changing rapidly, and high-tech security is at the forefront of innovation.
Most of the debate about ‘protecting your business’ revolves around online security, and rightfully so. In the last two years, 45% of Australian companies have been attacked by cyber criminals. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the impact of such attacks goes beyond the immediate and more tangible items such as financial loss and disruption to daily operations. There’s also the loss of reputation and customer trust to factor in.
Often, the problem stems from ignorance and a false sense of security – pardon the pun. According to a NSW Small Business Commissioner study, 50% of the SMBs in Australia believe that their limited online footprint protects them from cybercrime and do not realise they could be a possible target. Some of the biggest cyber security threats facing Australian SMBs are phishing, ransomware, social media hacking, disgruntled employees, and unsecured printers and multifunction devices (MFDs).
The Australian government takes these threats very seriously and is adopting measures to secure businesses online. One such measure is incorporating the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) into the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). Part of the government’s national security reform package to provide better cyber security support and services, the initiative provides SMBs with the Stay Smart Online Small Business Guide to allow them to put in place some basic online security practices.
By implementing the security measures in this guide, Australian businesses can increase their online security and minimise the threat of cyber-attacks. But, is cybercrime the only security concern for businesses in Australia? Not quite! Physical security is an equally, if not a more, concerning problem.
Facility Security: What Facility Managers and Security Professionals Need to Consider
There are a variety of building security risks giving headaches to facility managers and security professionals everywhere. The biggest problem for security professionals does not lie in the physical security threat itself; rather it lies in how they think about and manage security. Those in charge of facility security would know how hard it is to justify funding for security measures—until a security breach happens. Even then, you need to have a rock-solid reason for the funding. Security is one of the only industries globally where performance is ranked by how often things “don’t happen”.
When a facility is breached, the first question that executives would generally ask is ‘Why did it happen and what do you need to prevent it from happening again?’ Right here is the opportunity for facility managers, security professionals and others in charge of facility security to make most of a security breach and obtain the resources they need to help prevent security breaches in the future. But, they need to be prepared with a solid answer. If they’re not, then the opportunity will be lost.
Your intuitive abilities are not enough to come up with a solid answer instead you need to research. You need to research the biggest security concerns for facilities and then find appropriate solutions for them. So, what are the biggest security concerns for facilities? Think personal safety and asset protection, security patrolling, and loss of inventory.
While the list is not exhaustive, researching these security concerns and the most appropriate or innovative solutions for them could provide the answer you need to justify the budget for the resources needed to prevent security breaches in the future. Following is insight into these security concerns and the innovative solutions for them.
Personal Safety and Asset Protection
Physical security is about protecting important data, confidential information, networks, software, equipment, facilities, company’s assets, and personnel. One of the biggest concerns for any business is protecting its employees and assets. Personal safety and asset protection is not just something for the ‘bad times’ either, rather it is a fundamental right of your assets and people.
Your assets and people need and deserve to be protected. People here refer to your staff, guests, and visitors. Identifying and prioritising the security vulnerabilities and developing plans to eliminate or mitigate based on your organisational risk appetite is critical. Leveraging technology across the facility and in the operational structure can provide you with what is needed to deal with emergencies and take preventative measures before the worst occurs.
The concept of “smart buildings” could come in handy at a time like this. The market for smart building is expected to grow considerably in the next years. Considering that more and more organisations are optimising all aspects of their facilities with sensors and digital controllers for HVAC, electricity, surveillance systems and even parking spaces, it is easy to see why.
As the security demands for facilities get increasingly complex, there is an opportunity to rethink the approach to how security in buildings is managed. The next era of facility security is enabled by three technologies: Internet of Things (IoT), virtualisation, and analytics and they are the driving force behind smart buildings.
IoT is of particular importance here as it makes it easier and cheaper to connect all the security devices and systems within a facility, giving people greater control over facility security. This helps to track assets to combat theft and optimise usage, secure job-sites simply and cost-effectively, send security alerts via the internet, and provide back-up alarm systems.
Today, building security is different from what it was twenty, ten, or even five years ago. A combination of security measures need to be considered to make sites adequately safe and secure. Security patrol is part of it. Patrolling is needed to enhance personnel safety and deter crime and basically extend the security sphere of influence. The purpose of security patrols should always be to promote safe workplace environment, deter vandalism, theft and trespassers and provide rapid response to emergency situations.
Technology can help achieve this. In the U.S, drones and autonomous surveillance robots are being used for this purpose. Avitas Systems—a subsidiary of GE, has started to use robots and drones to keep an eye on industrial facilities. This security system relies on a deep-learning technology developed by NVIDIA.
In deep learning, neural networks are fed a massive amount of data, which is image-based data. This data will be used by a robot to construct models or patterns. The major benefit of using these surveillance robots is that they can stay focused constantly. Additionally, they are a lot better than humans at identifying defects. They also have abilities that security guards do not such as identifying gas leaks, changes in temperature and other important elements. But, most important of all, the robots can save facilities from the hundreds and thousands of dollars that they spend on manual inspections every year.
Loss of Inventory
Technology plays a vital role in inventory loss management as it can enable a sustainable strategy for loss reduction. In a facility, inventory loss might be due to fraud, internal shrink, shoplifting or organised crime. Regardless of the cause, inventory loss in a facility can be minimised or better eliminated with futuristic emerging technology.
This technology includes Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips embedded in the packaging or product tags of the inventory, VST (magnetic) tags that prevent theft of merchandise by setting off an alarm if they are not properly deactivated, drones that capture footage, inventory software that tracks inventory and identifies any merchandise that is unaccounted for, and biometric surveillance systems that proactively prevent crime.
Without abandoning old modes of thinking, facility managers and security professionals cannot overcome the challenges facing them. They need to rethink their strategy to come up with effective solutions to the security threats facing the facility. Today, these solutions include technology that can adjust to the level of the known or potential threat. Smart buildings, IoT, drones, robotics, and deep learning systems are just a few examples of this technology. If you’re interested to learn more about securities and facilities management services in Australia visit Southern Cross Group.
About the Author
Martin Sheridan begun his career in technical development and solution architecture, more recently he has developed his professional practice to include development of both commercial and technical strategy, leadership of substantial teams and delivery of major cultural change programs. He played diverse roles, including design, development and deployment of innovative software solutions with an eye to longer-term technological and commercial strategies to improve SDLC, time-to-market, time-to-value, efficiency and client satisfaction.