What are some of the trends happening in the security industry and what should security professionals focus their attention on? That was one of several questions Security Director News posed to Bill Jacobs at ASIS International in October. Jacobs, whose storied security-industry career job titles include security integrator, consultant to the physical security manager for Apple Inc., and, for the past 15 years, director of security for Cisco Systems.
Jacobs came out of retirement in January to join Next Level Security Systems as VP of access control. The revolution in the security industry, he said, really came from the convergence of IT and security. “Companies in the past that had disparate security systems now provide themselves with a single unified platform to manage buildings and facilities holistically across the globe,” he said. “Once you have an unified solution in an enterprise environment you can begin to manage risk a lot better because you’re looking at the entire corporate portfolio instead of a single building in a single location.”
Jacobs said the evolution will continue with the IP connectivity of edge devices, such as access card readers and video cameras. This will improve the speed with which that systems integrators can install systems, and reduce the overall cost to end users. The ability to have ‘auto discovery’ in edge devices, for example, will also simplify the installation process, he noted.
Another prominent trend is a shift to remote managed services and/or hosted services, Jacobs said. “There’s a significant benefit to clients, maybe not necessarily large enterprise clients who have robust IT departments, but for small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t necessarily have robust IT support structures, to be able to have a hosted environment where their database can be backed up and stored remotely in a secure location. That affords them a great deal of peace of mind.”
What is likely to be an even larger influence on the way security directors operate, he said, is the ongoing convergence between physical security and building management systems. While at Cisco, Jacobs said he recognized the opportunity to bring these two management systems together, which would save the company money in the end. “I thought, if I could save energy and reduce operational expense for the organization, I could potentially get some of that money back and put it into my technology budget, so I did have a hidden agenda,” Jacobs said with a smile.
Jacobs did so by integrating the access control system with the company’s building management system to address heating and cooling practices. He said many of the company’s employees wouldn’t populate a building until later in the morning, but all the systems were scheduled to fire up around 6 am. Basically, Jacobs created a workflow where the heating or cooling system wouldn’t activate until a certain number of employees had entered a building. “We then took it a step further and modulated it on a per-floor basis by using video analytics,” he said. “When it reached a particular threshold [of people], it would open up the HVAC valve and cool it down.”
This type of migration and integration with existing systems is critical for a security professional’s job security. “You need to begin opening your mind and start thinking: What else can I do for the business? And how else can I drive the operational cost of the business down? And how else can I drive down the risks in a facility?” he said. “By using other solutions and integrating them together, then you begin to add value back into the organization and begin, as a security manager, to show your own value because you’re thinking outside the box and it’s not just about pushing video to a monitor or using a card to unlock a door, now you’re thinking about what other solutions I can do for the company to protect shareholder value and drive down operational expense.”
Jacobs said security directors should always be thinking about the overall operation of the company. “No matter what economic conditions we are in, we have to try and be as smart as possible,” he said.