Making the most of security systems data
March 7, 2023 By Rebecca Adler-Greenwell
Organizations of every type and size are often looking to make more informed decisions.
Rather than implementing a new information gathering system, many are now looking to analyze the data already being collected by their physical security systems.
Security departments are often sitting on an immense amount of data collected by video cameras, access control devices, and other connected physical security devices. Whether on the edge or the server, analytics can transform this information into smart, actionable insights. The results can be used to not only improve security but also many other business functions, including efficiency, operations, customer service and revenue generation.
For systems integrators, this ability to access and use data from physical security systems can create many new opportunities to develop a more meaningful, long-term relationship with customers, adding value that competitors will find hard to match. In addition to the foundational work of installing cameras and sensors, integrators can suggest new technologies or training to help customers identify ways to use their system to gain the insights they need to make better business decisions.
Helping your customers maximize their investment in security systems
Clarity of intention is key to getting the most out of a security system’s available data. Deciding what information is most important and meaningful helps to cut through the immense volume of data and possibilities. As a system integrator, you can take input from the customer and help them recognize the data that is most meaningful for their goals.
When your customers are first considering a new system, they may only be looking at the ways it can be used for certain functions. As an integrator, you can partner with the customer to show how their system can potentially do more than they initially considered and help them reach additional business goals.
By discussing these goals early in the process, you can better understand the customer’s reality and lay the groundwork to continue working together, knowing what is most important to them.
Throughout the process, you can guide the customer by asking the right questions to help them realize the potential of their system to provide insights and actionable data. Your customers may not always be up to date on the latest possibilities for their system. As an integrator, your team can help explain new advances in security software features. Then you can help the customer find a solution that will provide access to the data they are seeking and present it in an easy-to-read format, such as a visual dashboard or graphical report. This can help you and your customer identify and track the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most for their goals.
Configure and optimize your customers’ system implementation
A key step in a comprehensive system design that provides actionable information is identifying all the stakeholders and users of the system at the beginning of the process. After all, it may not be only the organization’s security team who could benefit from accessing the data collected by the system.
Team members in maintenance, marketing, operations, IT or even human resources may have their own uses for the data collected by video cameras, sensors and access control systems. Bringing more stakeholders to the table near the start of a project illustrates that this is a holistic solution that brings value beyond security.
Data analytics such as foot traffic can help the marketing team see what areas are most frequented. People counting tools can help determine which queue lines are the longest so the operations teams can plan appropriate staffing. As a systems integrator, you can help the customer recognize new possibilities from their security software.
As your relationship with your customers grows, you may even consider suggesting additional devices and software solutions to better address their needs. An open architecture, well-configured system can be expanded to add more data points without overwhelming the operator by filtering out irrelevant information. If multiple departments are using the system, you can even help your customer create different dashboards for different groups, so each team can focus on what’s most important to them.
Best practices to use and manage security system data
Although technology today is getting better at automating certain processes, human intelligence is required at every step of the way. An operator is needed to define what data counts, how it should be tabulated, and validate that the data collected is in fact what is needed to meet the desired outcome.
An operator also needs to identify and systematize the steps of all automated processes, script the SOPs that define how to respond to different kinds of scenarios, and, of course, make judgment calls when required. That’s why it is important to design systems that improve operator efficiency and make it easy for your customers to onboard new staff and maintain consistency.
As the amount of sensors and resulting available data grows, there is potential for an operator to be overwhelmed with notifications if the system isn’t configured to filter out irrelevant information. By implementing more sophisticated logic, a systems integrator can help the customer limit notifications to those that match certain criteria. This helps your customer identify actual problems amid ordinary events, while also avoiding operator burnout.
For example, people sometimes accidentally leave doors open. Implementing sophisticated logic, you could limit notifications from those accidental events and only send alerts when the door is forced open and someone also crosses through, or if the door is open without having someone badge the lock within the last five minutes. Combining these kinds of if-then rules with well-constructed standard operating procedures (SOPs) makes it easier for operators to react efficiently and effectively when necessary.
A modern, unified system can also collect data that will help your customer forecast when it’s time for preventative maintenance. The result of fewer breakdowns and system interruptions due to mechanical issues could offer a huge value in operational efficiency. For example, an access control system could notify operators when a door opens and closes a certain number of times and reaches a threshold for required maintenance.
Operators can work with a system integrator to define what to track and when to trigger a maintenance call. They can also identify who should receive those notifications and what process they will need to follow.
Often, SOPs are developed by the client, but some full-service systems integrators have added this to their portfolio of services. Others have developed relationships with consultants that they can refer and collaborate with on implementation. Your software partners may also have examples of SOP templates that you could share with customers as an example or adapt for your own needs.
Benefits for integrators
When systems integrators help customers realize a return on investment using actionable data from their security systems this leads to long-term account retention and increased profitability. Likewise, the most successful integrators today know that taking the time to ensure customers are equipped with the training and expert assistance they need to use their system to its full capabilities saves time in the long run and improves the customer experience.
Taking steps to truly understand a customer’s business goals and developing the expertise to translate that into well-designed and efficient systems helps you become a trusted advisor. The sheer variety, velocity and volume of data we have at our fingertips today can be overwhelming. The integrator’s industry knowledge and close relationship with their customers makes them a valuable resource to help customers cut through the complexities of the vast amount of data and become clear about the questions they seek to answer or the goals they have.
They can then help customers identify which data is most relevant, how to gather that data, and what workflows and SOPs can be put in place to maximize a return on investment through their security system. This can best be achieved through a unified platform that allows all systems to operate together seamlessly and presents the resulting data through a single user interface.
Look to manufacturers for the support they offer. Some provide tools or service offerings to complement the resources you offer. These can address different aspects of the customer lifecycle such as system design and configuration, upgrade assistance, health and safety checks, or upgrade planning to determine the scope and mitigate potential risk factors. They can also help you with support, services, certifications and training to get the most out of the systems you install.
Rebecca Adler-Greenwell is the senior channel enablement manager, North America, Genetec (www.genetec.com).
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