Shift in Mindset: Security Systems are Now Part of operational Transformation

Andrew Elvish

By Andrew Elvish, Vice President Marketing, Genetec, Inc.

Security teams are sitting on a mountain of data and insights collected by their systems. This data isn’t only useful to respond to incidents, carry out investigations, or protect people and property. It can also inform and transform how organizations structure their operations and processes.

Using security system data in this way is a significant shift in mindset that has taken place over the past few years.

For a long time, physical security systems were thought of as an overhead expense—part of the cost of doing business. They were seen as something organizations had to have in case something bad happened.

Analog systems time-consuming, challenging

Getting valuable information from analog systems like the old closed-circuit TV (CCTV) systems was time-consuming. Teams would only search through recorded footage if they had a compelling reason. The process included scanning through hours of video to find what you were looking for. Therefore, such security systems were seen as reactive tools versus proactive resources. Acquiring business intelligence out of such a system was challenging and generally not a viable option.

Video data through analytics

Today, IP technologies make it easy to correlate structured events with unstructured data, such as video surveillance footage. With unstructured data, you can’t easily pinpoint what you’re looking for unless you know the exact time and location of the event. By adding structure to video data through analytics metadata or other structured events like access control, it’s possible to find footage of an object, person, or incident based on criteria you provide. This can be game-changing, and it’s only the start of what can be done.

companies using access control and ALPR systems

For example, imagine you’re on the leadership team of a global food corporation. You’ve got warehouses, processing plants, and other properties all over the world. Wouldn’t it be great to know how that space was being used? That’s exactly what some multinational companies are doing today. They’re using access control and ALPR systems, combined with video data, to understand how people use spaces in their buildings. How often are common spaces occupied? What times of the day are they busy? Are there certain areas that create bottlenecks? If you learn that you have unused square footage, you can confidently retire, sub-lease, or decommission these areas, potentially saving millions.

In the retail industry, data about the use of space can help with store layouts. Are there areas that are too crowded and other areas that have low traffic? How many cashiers are needed to keep checkout lines moving so shoppers don’t abandon their carts? It’s no surprise that retailers were among the earliest adopters of unified platforms.

Workflows based on SOPs

Retailers don’t only use their security systems to understand the flow of people within their space but to also manage facilities. For example, grocers can link data from IoT temperature sensors to system alarms and standard operating procedures (SOPs) all contained within the unified platform. If the temperature in a walk-in freezer is rising, operators can use their unified platform to determine if it’s due to a mechanical error or because someone left the door open. Workflows based on SOPs automatically trigger the appropriate response and carefully track response actions and time to resolution. The action may be to broadcast a pre-recorded message, sound an alarm in the stock room, or send a message to a

manager. Teams can then quickly remedy the problem before it results in the loss of inventory in the freezer.

Here’s another real-life example of the use of unified security for operations. A major big box retailer realized they had an issue with their lamp sales. Inventory checks revealed they were losing a suspiciously large number of lampshades, and no one could figure out why. Since their unified security system was integrated with their point-of-sale (POS) system, they decided to assign a team to dig into the data.

Presto! No more free lampshades.

By investigating the video correlated with transactions related to lamp sales, the team made an interesting discovery. It turned out that although the lamp bases and shades were sold separately, shoppers tended to put the shade on the base before bringing it to the checkout. The cashiers often scanned the base only, not remembering that the shade also needed to be counted. The fix was easy: program an alert to display on the POS screen after a lamp base was scanned to remind the cashier to scan the shade separately. Presto! No more free lampshades.

The transformative potential of using your security system for operations is huge, no matter what industry or field you’re in. At large venues, operations teams are finding ways to streamline ticket lines to help people get to their seats faster. In casinos, a unified platform makes it possible to alert staff when a vehicle with a VIP customer arrives. Staff can greet the guests at the door and prepare a chair at their favorite table along with their drink of choice. In transportation, teams are discovering ways to reduce overcrowding. Automatic alerts can let passengers know which subway cars have more open seats or that a less crowded bus arrives in 5 minutes.

Strategic planning and broader IoT strategy

Security systems are no longer just a necessary requirement in case of an incident. Instead, security teams are now part of many organizations’ strategic planning and their broader IoT strategy. The data security teams able to provide through an open, unified platform can help their organization make improvements, often using equipment and technology they already own. The results – streamlined operations, improved day-to-day processes, and an overall enhanced guest and employee experience.


Andrew Elvish is a columnist, explorer, and the Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at Genetec. Andrew has over 20 years’ experience in the software industry and will surprise you with his knowledge of great restaurants all over the world. Source:

Genetec develops solutions designed to improve security, intelligence, and operations for enterprises, governments, and the communities in which we live. Its flagship product, Security Center, is an open-architecture platform that unifies IP-based video surveillance, access control, automatic license plate recognition (ALPR), communications, and analytics. visit:

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