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Steps on your security journey

We are all living through very challenging times. The combination of slow economic recovery and growing security and safety concerns, create a very demanding environment for public serving organisations such airports, local municipalities, public transportation facilities and banks. Chief security officers of these organisations face the daunting task of balancing security and safety concerns on the one hand, whilst on the other, customers’ expectation for fast and efficient service. And doing it all with limited budgets, writes Udi Segall, pictured, of Qognify, formerly NICE Systems, the situation management / PSIM and video management software firm.

Much of the above is also true for critical facilities, as we have seen in light of recent plot in Belgium to compromise the operation of nuclear facilities and attempts to harm electrical power distribution by shooting transformers in remote and unmanned sub-stations in the US.

To cope with these challenges organisations and municipalities deploy a wide range of systems that aim to address security and safety concerns. Adding to the mix SOP (standard Operating Procedures) that capture organisation’s best practices and need to be followed. And the multiple stakeholders that are part of the command chain and need to be involved in the decision making and we are ending with an environment where it very difficult to respond quickly.

As an illustration of the complexity of managing incidents in a city environment that has a plethora of sensors, processes and personnel. Addressing the current predicament is done by dividing it into three elements:

1. Situational awareness
2. Situational management
3. Continuous improvement

1. Situational awareness – How do I make sense of it all?
Visiting command and control centres of cities, airports, public transport, banks, critical facilities make it clear that there is no shortage in data…in fact operators at these control centres are inundated with the volume of data that is flowing into them. A frequently used adage is “we to connect the dots”, but in reality the first challenge is understanding which dots to connect…You need to sit in control room to understand the amount of time operators allocate to dealing with false / nuisance alerts that are generated by the various sensors and systems. One effective way of reducing false alerts is correlating information arriving from multiple sensors prior to raising an alert. A large retail bank in Portugal is using is using the following sensors to detect intrusions into its branches:

• Broken glass detectors
• Seismic detectors (in case someone is digging his way in…)
• Motion detectors

Correlating these sensors reduced the rate of false alerts by 96 per cent, this translated into an annual saving of more than 700,000 euro in the first year alone. Furthermore, such Big Data analysis can also be extremely helpful in detecting patterns of faulty systems and sensors and prioritising the maintenance activity.

The branches that generated most of the false alerts are shown in the pie chart and on the map. Vendor reliability provides an indication as to what sensors and systems were involved in the highest rate of false alerts.
Another effective way to reduce handling time of false alerts is by automatically providing live video feeds from the location of the sensor that triggered the event. This capability leverages GIS capabilities, in which each sensor, asset and personnel are represented on the map, based on their real-life GIS coordinates, allowing the selection of the camera that has the best field of view to cover the location.
Organisations such as Bank Hapoalim deploy hundreds of video surveillance channels, whilst at Beijing Metro the number is greater than 10,000. In such volumes it is impossible for any control operator to detect and follow suspicious activity in real-time. This is exactly the reason why the use of video analytics is becoming so critical.

Situation management – What do we do next?

Now that we have the understanding of the what is happening the next question is what do we do next, or more specifically what is best course of action for this type of incident in this context.
Organisations need to be able to leverage their past experience into actionable intelligence, by codifying best practices into adaptive workflows that guide operators’ action as the situation unfold. Disparate systems and sensors can be integrated and correlated to provide a unified and coherent operating picture. This situational awareness is then translated to an effective situation management leveraging mobile application to ensure real time communication stream between control room operators, field personnel and other key stake holders.

Continuous improvement

The final element is the ability to conduct a thorough investigation and debriefing in order to analyse how the situation unfolded and what corrective step can be taken to better mitigate them or prevent them all together. This process as every Chief Security Operator knows is a never-ending journey.


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