6 Security Command Center Best Practices You Should Adopt

The right training, ergonomics, monitor set up and policies are just some of the factors that can help you make the most of your security monitoring center.

With campuses’ increased use of video surveillance and other computer-based systems, the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) Foundation has just released a study outlining how security system monitoring centers should be designed and how officers working in these centers should be trained. Although this study was intended for healthcare facilities, it also applies to K-12 districts and institutions of higher education that have command stations.

The following best practices are highlighted in the report.

1. Officers must be trained to use the technology. Security officers who work in a command center must be trained how to use security cameras to identify suspicious activity, including what’s happening in the background as well as foreground of a video image. They must be taught how to interact with dispatch and patrol, as well as learn about policies and procedures designed to protect patient and student privacy. Operators who are less sophisticated may require more carefully designed monitoring centers so they can properly balance their telephone, radio and visitor log duties with their video surveillance responsibilities. Organizations that provide central monitoring station user training include the Association for Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO), the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA).

2. Train officers how to multitask. Due to the increased volumes of information being generated by command centers, security officers must be trained to balance technology, manual duties and paper-based tasks. They must learn how to effectively monitor access control systems, emergency communication systems and cameras, as well as answer phones, dispatch officers, report incidents and greet guests. Officers must also be trained how to respond to fire alarms, infant abduction attempts and medical gas alarms, among other things.

3. Limit the amount of time officers view video monitors. According to the report, the quality of attention by officers monitoring video feeds falls to unacceptable levels after about 20 minutes. To address this challenge, officers scheduled for the same shift should switch duties every two to four hours. “Varying an officer’s assignment from monitoring in the command station to patrolling or driving the premises and greeting visitors at entrances will keep the officer more focused and engaged,” the report says.

4. Limit the number of video monitors. As more monitors are added, detection rates decrease. For example, an officer viewing one monitor has an 85 percent detection rate, while an officer viewing nine monitors has a 53 percent detection rate.

5. Be mindful of monitor set-up. Camera images with the most activity and traffic should appear larger on a monitor than camera images with less activity. Additionally, monitor screens should be tilted just below officer eye level so his or her eyes don’t become strained.

6. Design your center with ergonomics in mind. Lighting, furniture design and air temperature must be appropriate and comfortable so officers can concentrate on the tasks at hand. Additionally, command centers should not be located in loud or high-traffic areas.

Read the report.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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