Making data work for you

August 2018 Security Services & Risk Management, Residential Estate (Industry)

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our security solutions. These installations allow for data to be collected from systems which include access control, alarm and CCTV or any other electronic security intervention. This data is recorded over time. Electronic monitoring of security manpower also produces volumes of data; this could include guard and vehicle tracking. All this valuable information resides in the system databases and is growing as the system is used.

Glenn Allen.
Glenn Allen.

In most cases the data is ignored by those managing the security operation, until a security incident occurs. At this point, many hours will be spent retrieving information for the incident report. It is not always easy because the format in which you are able to access the data may not suit the parameters of your particular search. It may also involve matching up CCTV images and access control information.

At this point it is hoped that all systems are operating on exactly the same time value, so that manually shifting the time block for each group of data to match events, is not necessary.

This reactive approach to data use is not ideal. It begs the question: is the investment in technology giving the correct return? Is there a proactive approach to this problem?

There is and it is mostly ignored, however this is the area in which it would be much better to operate. Now the question becomes: How do I make use of data to improve the security solution?

Some examples

The access control system: If correctly set up, there should be data available which shows every transaction and includes the following information:

• Date

• Time

• Location

• Direction (in or out)

• User details

• Type of user (resident, visitor, contractor etc.)

This information can be extracted into a spreadsheet and some analysis done. This analysis can be any of the following:

• Identify booms and turnstiles which are most often used.

• The peak activity times at each access point.

• The time of day when vehicle flow is low enough for the closing of gates.

• The number of times any boom is lifted by the guard i.e. there has been an override of the system.

• The number of times access has been denied by the system and the user who has been denied access.

The electric fence: If correctly set up, there should be data available which shows every transaction and includes the following information:

• Type of alarm.

• Location (zone of alarm).

• Time of alarm.

• Operator response (not manually entered, but from a predetermined set of reasons for reporting purposes).

• Time of operator response.

• Time of operator follow-up (if applicable).

This information can be extracted into a spreadsheet format and some analysis done. This analysis can be any of the following:

• Alarms for zone per alarm type.

• Average alarm count per zone per alarm type.

• Count of contributors to alarm (weather, vegetation, etc.)

• Operator response time (per operator for appraisal purposes).

The same statistical data can be applied for all the other systems, such as thermal camera alarms, visitor entry info, etc. This information is also vital for maintenance planning, problem prediction as well as planning of future upgrades of the systems.

The problem often is that in order to analyse the data, you most often have to go and retrieve information from the relative system’s standard reports (if they even have reports available) and it is not simply automatically sent to you – you need to go and get it yourself. Even if it is sent to you via email or similar, it is not always reader friendly and most often presents large amounts of data incorporating thousands of transactional data entries which requires further analytics to determine the anomalies. Although further analytics is possible using tools like pivot tables, graphs and the like, this is often a tedious task.

Also, most often the data is not presented in a user friendly, live easy to read view, highlighting almost in real time as systems go beyond the normal parameters to predict possible problems and allow for rectification of problems prior to failure. It is also most likely that the standard reports don’t provide the summarised data you may require to make informed decisions and timeously act on equipment that is beginning to fail or problems as they arise.

Modern businesses employ business intelligence (BI) tools and modern security managers should begin to employ security intelligence (SI) tools that should have the ability to represent current and historical security system data in a user friendly manner in real time so that all security personnel and management can, with relative ease, view the current health and statistical information on a dashboard for instant checks on how their entire system is performing at the exact time. Not only should it present the current status quo, but should also present the exceptions so that they can be addressed as and when they happen.

Intelligent security solutions

Derek Lategan.
Derek Lategan.

In residential estate security, mitigating risk is top priority. “Residential estates often make the mistake of installing the latest technology and thinking that their estate is secure,” says Derek Lategan, MD of Excellerate Services. “Even the best systems available used by inadequately trained managers and staff members will not achieve the results that are required.”

Excellerate adopted a proactive approach to the management of estate security risk by developing a Risk Management Strategy (RMS), which is consistent with the principles outlined in ISO 31000 standard. With this strategy in mind, Excellerate conducts a high-level evaluation of the estate and proposes appropriate considerations for the enhancement of safety and security measures on the estate, taking into account both internal risk factors as well as the surrounding area.

Regular audits of the RMS are conducted to ensure effective performance against desired outcomes. Each audit seeks to identify smarter processes and better use of current resources, resulting in efficient and productive operations that are flexible and responsive which in turn allow estates to enjoy significant cost savings.

The scope of the audit consists of the following activities:

• Surveying the physical facilities;

• Surveying areas of interest surrounding the estate;

• Reviewing security organisational structure, management and staffing levels including job descriptions for each post;

• Reviewing existing security plans, policies and procedures;

• Reviewing physical security technologies as well as their level of integration with one another.

A growing trend in residential estate crimes is for a crime syndicate to move into a house in the estate for a certain period. During this time, the suspects monitor the behaviour of the other residents, workers and security. The suspects then initiate crimes before moving out. A common way to combat this trend is by placing informants within the environment to gather intelligence.

“In the final analysis,” says Lategan, “intelligent criminals can only be thwarted by intelligent security solutions.”


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