Physical Security Is All About Being An Educated Consumer


Physical Security 7 Steps To Finding The Right Solution

The world of electronic security changes daily and the notion that “One-Size-Fits-All” is not always the case when you need to deploy the highest level of security for your facility. Regardless if you are maintaining a legacy security system, have the latest state-of-the-art systems or are considering a new system there may be a need for a customized solution, data integration or software modifications.

Multiple Security Cameras - Physical Security
Multiple Security Cameras

In my past life as an end user, physical security system integrator and now as a physical security consultant I always encourage individuals to proceed with caution when looking to deploy any equipment or system that needs customization. Your first sign of needing proceed with caution is when the sales person or manufacturer’s representative use the term “no problem.”

With the disclaimers out of the way, I do understand that there may be a need a security integrator to provide a customized solution. You may need to secure an area that does not offer an out of the box solution, tweak software to provide a specific solution or integrating data between multiple physical security and non-security system platforms.

If you have come to the realization that there is no out of the box solution to address a specific physical security need, you now have to consider a customized solution. Regardless if you are looking for customized hardware, software or data integration, the following seven steps are critical to the success of the project.

Step 1 Find A Qualified Security Integrator

When looking at customization it best to look at a security systems integrator that has experience in dealing with your specific security need. Do not be afraid to talk to your integrator or manufacturer representative about your options. Many physical security integrators and manufacturers have strategic partnerships and are willing to work together if the results are mutually beneficial.

At this point, you have a few options depending on your specific needs. You can rely on you security integrator to provide a solution, take the time to be an educated consumer, or seek the advice of your colleagues.

I am a firm believer that we can all do a better job of becoming educated consumers. Take the time to learn as much as you can about available technologies, the full capabilities of your existing systems and rely on other for their expertise. Once you have done your homework, it’s time to put a team together to brainstorm solutions with others who have a vested interest in the success of the project.

The team’s objective is to define the problem, establish the desired outcome and assign specific task and responsibilities. Do not get caught up in finding a solution at this point since it might (will) cloud your judgment in the future and may negatively impact the project.

Hint: Keep an open mind

Step 2 Speak To Colleagues Regarding Similar Security Solutions

Once you have established that you have a problem that requires a customized solution reach out to your colleagues. Colleagues can provide industry specific expertise that can help with your customization requirements. You can find excellent resources through security organizations, industry specific organizations, and social media outlets.

During my career, I learned early on that others like to offer advice and provide solutions to problems, especially if they found a successful solution that met their needs. As with any advice be weary of people who are looking to sell you a solution, solutions that seem too good to be true and individuals who are over promoting a solution.

Hint: Beware of the oversell

Physical Security Turnstiles Access Control
Physical Security Turnstiles

Step 3  Look For A Proven Solution

Now that you have reached out to colleagues and hopefully have received input that addresses your need you can move to the next step. If not, it is time to regroup to engineer a solution to address your specific physical security needs and desired outcome.

Keep an open mind, since there may be multiple solutions to the problem. It’s key to document and archive all aspects of the brainstorming sessions to ensure accountability as the processes move forward. After the team has determined the best solution, cautiously move forward and develop a proof of concept to determine if the solution will work as engineered.

Hint: No need to reinvent if you don’t have to

Step 4 Require A Proof Of Concept

If you happened to find a colleague that has a solution that meets your needs, its time for a road trip to see how the system works under live conditions. The solution may not meet all of your needs, but it could provide valuable insight to engineering a solution that meets your requirements.

Before investing a lot of money into a solution that may or may not meet your needs, require your physical security integrator and manufacturer partners to provide a working prototype of the engineered solution. The proof of concept solution can be tested to perform under similar or actual site conditions before deploying an untested solution that may or may not work.

Hint: If you take the time to investigate all of your options, you will save money, time and prevent a future headache.

Physical Security Drawings
Security Plans

Step 5  Require Written Documentation, Drawings, And Diagrams 

After the testing and commissioning phases of the project, it’s time to establish written standards. The standards will ensure that all parties understand the impact of any changes or modification that may affect the project at a later date. Standards will also provide the road map in the event there are future needs to customize the hardware, modify the software or provide data integration.

Hint: Prepare for the inevitable

Hold your security integrator responsible for providing written documentation, drawings and diagrams that accurately depict the processes involved in any customization of hardware, software or data integration. It’s important that the request for proposal explicitly states that the physical security integrator is not only responsible for providing the required submittals, but is also required to update the submittals.

Hint: Include the submittal process as part of the standards to document system, data, and software modifications

Step 6  Require A Warranty And Guarantee

The security integrator and the manufacturer must be willing to support any modifications to the hardware and systems, if not you may have problems later. If the physical security integrator or manufacturer is not willing or able to provide a warranty or guarantee, you may need to reconsider the solution.

Be prepared to hold a portion of the final payment until the project has been field tested for an agreed upon period and commissioned to the teams satisfaction. Once a project is accepted, and full payment has been made you will have little recourse in the event the project fails to meet expectations.

Hint: If you do not feel comfortable with the processes or need additional expertise consider using a consultant to manage the process and keep the project on track

Step 7 Remain Diligent To Prevent System/Software/Data Breaks

By the time you have reached Step 7, followed all of the recommendations and hints the physical security project should be good to go, or maybe not. It is very likely that the project will hit some bumps, probably as a result of human error and the failure to adhere to the written standards.

I am a firm believer that we can often learn more from our failures than from our successes; the key is not to repeat our failures. Take the time to look for a proven solution and make sure you partner with a security integrator, manufacturer and or consultant that have a proven track record when it comes to providing customized physical security solutions.

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you” – Walt Disney

Related Post How Good Is Your Perimeter Detection

This article was originally posted as a three-part series, it has been edited and revised to provide additional insight for the physical security professional.

Bernard D. Gollotti, CPP Founder/COO LARGO Consulting Services

Your Security Adviser Security professional bringing individuals together through social media to provide safe and secure environment where people work, learn and play.

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