Managing the security at multiple sites for an organization is no small feat. Facilities managers often confront a myriad of challenges, especially when considering physical security and the networking infrastructure to support it. Whether it’s about setting up the right alarm and video monitoring system or harnessing business intelligence and analytics with cameras, an organization’s goals should determine the choice of equipment and supporting infrastructure. In this article, we’ll look at the challenges and potential solutions to consider when supporting security goals across a multi-site organization.
Lack of Standardization
One of the most glaring issues facilities managers are confronted with is a lack of standardization across different locations. Even if there’s a semblance of a standard footprint, no two locations are identical. Space constraints, floor plans, and other variances require individual attention. This lack of uniformity can pose significant challenges when integrating physical security solutions. For video surveillance, if budget demands mandate the use of existing network cameras, standardizing on the same VMS (video management system) platform is crucial to successful deployment.
Integration of Existing Equipment
It can be difficult to integrate existing security equipment with newer technologies. While it might seem cost-effective to utilize existing equipment initially, repeated experience has shown that this often leads to higher overall costs in the long run. When you have facilities with legacy alarms and video cameras along with new locations with contemporary business security infrastructure, businesses often end up making unacceptable compromises in either deploying the solution or utilizing their capabilities.
Phased Implementation vs. Replacement
When considering upgrades, the debate often centers on whether to have a phased implementation or a complete replacement. Budget constraints frequently push organizations towards phased implementations, even if a complete replacement might cost less in terms of maintenance, operations, and scalability over the life of the system. It’s important to look at the big picture and plan ahead for unforeseen challenges as well as expansion.
Collaboration Between IT and Physical Security
It’s never been more important to have tight collaboration between IT and physical security teams. To the IT team, physical security is another application running on the organization’s network. Security is not the most important application with regards to business revenue generation, so it must not impact other critical applications on the network. For example, providing reliable Wi-Fi to employees, tenants, and guests could be incredibly important depending on the nature of the business. For that reason, it’s vital that any business security solution be designed to operate without cannibalizing the network bandwidth and data storage capacity available.
Choosing the Right Service Provider
For multi-site organizations, it’s vital to choose a service provider that offers scalability and expertise across multiple domains and geographies. Local or regional service providers may not have the ability to support business expansion throughout the country. This eventually results in businesses hiring multiple service providers who may not necessarily follow the same design, installation, and maintenance protocols. Local vendors also may not have the economies of scale offered by vendors with nationwide presence, resulting in higher implementation and operating costs.
In addition, vendors that specialize exclusively on business security with no network or data analytics capabilities may not be able to offer critical capabilities needed to maximize ROI from the business security solution.
While investments made in physical security equipment and infrastructure won’t last forever, the goal of “future-proofing” an installation can ensure that a security system installed today can withstand the challenges and demands of tomorrow. It’s crucial to invest in systems that offer longevity and scalability, rather than those with limited shelf lives. Most importantly, organizations should strive to deploy open systems that integrate easily with multiple vendor solutions and services. Organizations should also look for security systems that can be leveraged to provide other advanced services such as video analytics and interactive remote video monitoring.
Facilities managers of multi-site organizations have a vast array of considerations when dealing with physical security and networking. Deploying business security solutions across locations requires a unique type of vendor partnership that can support your organization nationally, addressing both security and networking requirements. Ensuring standardization and minimizing operational complexity when deploying physical security solutions can be daunting. However, with clear goals, the right strategy, and a dependable service provider, organizations can effectively navigate these challenges, ensuring a robust and future-proof physical security infrastructure.
Chad Leedy is vice president of enterprise and franchise development at Interface Systems.