How to Secure Multisite Campuses
To reduce redundancy, campuses can create a central security operations center with input from all sites’ video, access control, intrusion, and other security systems.
It’s not unusual for larger organizations to operate multiple campuses — ranging from a headquarters facility to satellite locations and even highly remote substations. Employees, students, faculty, administrators, clinicians, and patients at each site deserve the same consistent level of security across the organization’s footprint.
Providing that is a challenge faced by security directors that their integrator can help them navigate. To reduce redundancy (and added costs), integrators can help these organizations forgo the idea of separate, full-blown security operations centers (SOC) at each facility.
Instead, organizations can create a central SOC with input from all sites’ video, access control, intrusion and other security systems and assign security personnel at all locations to handle routine duties and assist during emergencies.
Close integration of security and IT teams creates cross-functional alliances to improve operational efficiencies. The more information these groups share, the better prepared they will be when faced with physical and logical criminals.
Likewise, security directors may choose to establish back-up communication channels across the organization’s footprint to ensure communications during any emergency. As organizations acquire other operations, there’s often an assortment of security systems and procedures added to the mix, hindering communication with the SOC.
Integrators are uniquely qualified to bring systems into compliance or achieve reliable workarounds considering budgets and other constraints.
Campuses with multisite locations might also adopt a Cloud-based hosted system to share real-time and recorded video, access control, and other security data. Another benefit of this system is the ease of sharing data in the Cloud with local law enforcement and fire departments, which is vital during an emergency.
Other benefits a hosted system includes:
- Reducing or eliminating on-premises servers to minimize space and upfront costs (powerful servers cost up to $30,000 each) at each campus.
- Router configuration and automatic installation of software and firmware updates as they become available, eliminating the need for the SOC team to handle those tasks.
- Hosted services are typically sold through a subscription model that allows multisite campuses to budget their annual costs accurately.
- Scalability makes it simple for an organization to add or delete equipment at any networked location.
Regular upgrades and maintenance by a qualified integrator ensure hosted systems are safe, if not safer, from cyberattacks than on-premises servers. As a result, hosted systems are gaining in popularity among multisite security operations.
According to many veteran security professionals, on-premises servers will become virtually extinct – like VCRs and DVRs – within the next five to ten years. Hosted servers are open to many other security software packages, such as artificial intelligence-based analytics that detect movement by humans and vehicles and provide other important data about real-time events.
This software reduces non-threatening alarms, such as those caused by wind-blown foliage, that take time from a SOC’s security team. Also, teams have more pertinent information to share with first responders.
Access Control Options
Access control often poses problems for multicampus organizations receiving offsite employees and visitors for meetings and events. A smartphone-based system is a solution to this challenge that campuses should consider.
Facility visitors receive an invitation to download a credential and app before arrival, eliminating the need to check in at the front desk and register for a temporary badge. Replacing traditional card systems with smartphone-based credentials provides greater security, convenience, and cost savings.
For example, smartphones require possession of the device, a personal identification number or biometric verification to unlock it, the app and a downloaded credential. A phone’s built-in GPS lets managers precisely locate each device (and its owner). And with mobile credentialing in place, there is no need to purchase, store, handle or print physical badges and ship them to remote campuses.
Using facial, iris or fingerprint recognition, biometric readers are additional access control options to consider. Biometrics measures bodily characteristics for identification, eliminating fears of lost, stolen or borrowed access cards being used for unauthorized entry.
Campus Security and More
All campuses require emergency planning. Campus security directors may seek input from their integrator in the installation, training and managing of emergency communication systems to prepare for unexpected events ranging from an active shooter to severe weather.
An aspect of a campus’ emergency plan will include training on the accurate use of the system, as well as identifying multiple evacuation sites to ensure employees safely exit during various situations. An integrator can provide additional value by participating in regular drills, which are essential for the campus community to understand procedures.
A central SOC opens opportunities for campus security to manage multisite security campuses and address risk management and business operations. Using video from each site, security, and other personnel can track assets and monitor traffic, inventory control, identity management, employee productivity, process adherence, and more.
John Nemerofsky is COO of Sage Integration. This article originally appeared in Security Sales & Integration and has been edited.