Addressing the challenge of multi-site security
By J. Matthew Ladd
Many different elements come into play when it comes to providing security at multi-site facilities – users have to address company culture, such as smaller offices in rural locations compared with a corporation’s larger headquarters in a major city, budget issues and how to future proof technology.
These challenges extend beyond the issues associated with technology and standardization issues with deploying a single platform. So, what is a corporate security director to do when coordinating a security program that spans dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of locations? It’s important to properly assess the overall situation and there are a few things to keep in mind.
Standardize on Equipment
Should your company standardize on the types of security systems it deploys? Several years ago, it was not uncommon for a company to allow the decision-making process to come from the local level. As a result a local office manager or security personnel would hire the local systems integrator, but the challenge with that approach is that not every security systems integrator carries and installs the same line of products.
Now more large companies are standardizing on the equipment they install and migrating toward a single solution for their video and access control systems. Taking a standardized approach can lower the overall cost of a system because of the volume of product purchased. Also, installing the same brand of access control system across multiple locations enables sales people and senior members of management who might travel to several locations to use a single card to gain access into different buildings.
Taking a single platform approach makes it is easier to review data and security issues on a corporate level by running a single report instead of having to review multiple reports. Companies can also save money on their software licensing agreements by standardizing on a single platform. The more product and software you buy, the better the pricing. Security directors can also expect better support from their manufacturer and systems integrator partner.
Rural Office vs. City Office Mentality
For a long time, there have been two schools of thought relating to providing security for an office located in a rural area when compared with an office located in a large city. It’s not uncommon for the smaller field office to feel that security is not a necessity because the crime rate is low in the area or there are few employees coming and going from the building. However, it’s important for security directors to remember that security is not just about protecting assets, but it’s also about protecting the corporate brand and providing liability protection.
When a corporate office establishes security standards based on risk, it can help a smaller field office understand the overall need for security beyond an intrusion system. One example would be to implement a set standard for data rooms so that every data room or closet has a card reader and a surveillance camera associated with it. Another scenario could be that every perimeter door has a card reader, a surveillance camera and an intercom system. By specifically listing the security requirements for locations like these, corporations can help ensure a security program is accepted and implemented.
When implementing a security program for multiple facilities, future-proofing is critical to ensure that budgets are spent wisely and then there is the ability to upgrade systems as the industry introduces new technology.
Manufacturers are listening to their customers about the need to future-proof security systems and as a result have introduced cloud-based solutions, NVRs and video management systems that can operate with legacy camera systems. This enables end users to take a strategic approach to upgrades and ensures that the investment they made in their security systems maintains its value.
As a corporate security director, it’s important to make sure that you are implementing security systems that can either be upgraded in the future by downloading new software or that have a long-standing reputation in the security market. The last thing a security director wants is a newly security system to become outdated or unsupported after only a few years.