- Security TWENTY
- Women in Security
Trevor Ball, pictured, business development manager UK and Ireland at the physical security product company Allegion UK, writes of how facilities can improve security with big data.
Ever since the inception of the internet, data has been used to improve processes. Since the turn of the millennium in particular, the storage and use of data has expanded considerably. A 2018 report by IBM found that 90 per cent of the data in the world (at the time of the report) was created in the previous two years alone. As technologies develop and new devices become available to new users – the collection and analysis of data is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
This is no different for facility management. As the IoT continues to change the landscape, new tech-driven solutions that adopt a data-driven approach offer new ways to manage buildings. From healthcare facilities to commercial and residential properties, these intelligent devices can offer added security and a host of other benefits. So, in future years to come, as access control becomes more IT-led, how do we use data to improve security?
Despite new technologies becoming available to market, the future of the construction industry and its adaptation to digital tech is a topic that is hotly debated. Intelligent access control, such as cloud-based systems, can track a host of useful metrics, all with the potential to improve both security and processes in general. Once integrated, these systems track both users and access points, collecting and storing what is known as big data, on information including approved access, declined access and lockdown instances. Collecting and using this information can present facilities with a myriad of security improvements. At a basic level, knowing which (and more importantly when) access points of a building are being used helps determine whether those areas are being used correctly.
Take the healthcare sector as an example. Most healthcare environments are designed to house open-plan areas, but all contain ‘off-limit’ areas that house confidential medical records, equipment and pharmaceuticals. Some of these areas, such as medicine cabinets, require stringent security. By collecting data on medicine cabinets access, a facility can detect any instances of declined access or wrongful access (think unusual after-hours activity). This information can then be used as the rationale for changing or revoking access rights, adding an extra layer of security when it is most needed.
A facility’s physical environment can also be optimised with this approach, from process efficiencies to budgeting. Collecting and analysing data on footfall for example, allows a facility to understand more about the flow of movement within the building and then necessary adjustments can be made based on data trends. Optimising these areas can not only impact processes but also provide a knock-on effect for both patient and staff satisfaction and outcomes. This isn’t to mention the potential of driving positive financial results.
Lacking information on data
Understandably, we must then question why more facilities aren’t using data as a key component in their security efforts. If data-driven facilities management can enhance security and processes, why aren’t we seeing widespread use of it?
Well, it’s fair to say that the integration of big data analytics comes with its challenges. Until recently, the UK has been slow to move on the use of data in facilities management, meaning information has sometimes been limited, even for those interested in adopting the practice. The lack of information has left a hovering ambiguity over the topic, leaving both installers and end users unclear as to how data-driven management could be helping their facilities. Accountability is also a potential issue for those who do implement it into their systems, with IT teams and facility managers needing to agree on a system that works for everyone.
With this in mind, it becomes transparent as to why many are reluctant to adapt to these moving technologies. Without a clear understanding of intelligent systems and how to use data, decision makers are reluctant to leave their comfort zones. For some, the old mantra rings true – ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’.
However, this stance could be seen as backwards thinking. While it’s true that this approach may not be beneficial to each and every facility right now, it seems that this progressive trend could one day leave them in the dark. Is it not better to be more proactive than reactive when it comes to security? Right now, sectors such as healthcare and education, could be taking advantage of tailored, intelligent access control systems. Those that are under security pressures or are subject to budget issues could benefit in both the short and long term by adopting a data-driven approach.
The bigger picture
Data-driven facilities management provides us with a new-look method when ensuring our facilities are secure. We can no longer afford to use intuition or wait for potentially serious incididents to push us in to making the correct security decisions. Instead, the use of data now presents us with a structured, strategic option – securing facilities with the use of analytics and evidence.
So, education is the key. Where required, certified training days could help provide a clearer understanding of these systems and their possibilities. Highlighting what’s available, how to integrate these systems and the end user benefits will widen the horizon of access control options for installers and subsequently the facility managers that adopt them.