Editor's Letter: The security reset

Neil Sutton
Tuesday October 16, 2018
Written by
New influences are challenging the way people view their systems and technology

I recently ran into a senior security professional I know who went into some detail about the business aspects of his role. In fact, the operations side of his job was becoming much more prominent than what strictly might be described as “security.”

I suppose you could call this the next phase of security as a profession — it’s a business role complete with metrics, key performance indicators, targets and goals. Depending on the vertical market, those goals might include reducing shrink, optimizing workflow or managing assets.

In a lot of ways, this is what the industry has been working towards for years. It means a seat at the table, a conversation with the C-suite and recognition as a valued department. I don’t think the core values of protecting people, property and assets have really gone anywhere, but they’ve changed inflection. There’s also the slow but steady pivot away from security and towards risk. Adding security means placing restrictions on operations (more guards, more locked doors). Reducing risk means clearing a path for a business to succeed. I’m using pretty broad strokes here, but I think you take my meaning.

With this in mind, the tools security professionals are using are also changing. And likewise, security technology can be made to serve dual roles. Surveillance cameras will continue to serve the primary function of monitoring facilities; access control systems manage ingress and egress. Yet they can do so much more.

That was one of the key takeaways from the Anixter Converged Technology forum I attended a few weeks ago (see p.6 for coverage). Cameras are sensors, noted the experts speaking at the event. In fact, that’s what they’re probably best at: generating massive amounts of data.

That used to be seen as a detriment. After all, data, particularly video data, requires large amounts of storage and bandwidth. The industry has largely overcome some of these issues through improved compression technology. But more to the point, this river of data is incredibly valuable. Yes, it can be used to address security issues like suspicious packages left in hallways or intruders after hours, but it can also measure the number of people in the room at any given time, which in turn can help buildings manage their HVAC and power requirements more effectively. Like end users in senior security roles, manufacturers, consultants and installers are using the tools of the trade to address different challenges.

I think this is why events like the Anixter forum continue to be worthwhile. (And as I write this, I am about to travel to Las Vegas for the GSX conference hosted by ASIS International.) You never know who you’re going to meet or how they might challenge you to look at security in a new way.

This editorial originally appeared in the October issue of SP&T News.

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