Sitting on a goldmine – security data analytics
Security departments must look for smarter ways of offering the businesses they reside in value for money, by taking an innovative approach to the service they are providing.
With the advent of automated systems, increasing efficiency drives and Artificial Intelligence (AI) set to change the way jobs are done in the future, the time has now come for security departments to reassess the value they bring to their organisations.
While the importance of security to organisations is not in doubt, there have been mounting fears that the role of the traditional security department is being eroded and may eventually be consumed by other existing departments. Both IT and facilities management (FM) teams already touch on some elements that have been traditionally owned by the security department – from server installations that are now virtualised, to door hardware which can be serviced by FM just as door furniture would be. So, security must evolve and adapt to provide higher value functions than the traditional stereotype of guards watching screens and replacing lost access cards.
So how can the security department add more value? One answer lies in the data that is already being produced from the existing access control systems that secure the building(s). These systems hold a goldmine of data that can be analysed and provided to an array of departments to aid the overall management of an organisation’s estate. There are at least two approaches the security department can take to put their data to effective use.
Enhance security based on a building’s use, without increasing cost
When the security of a building is first designed and installed it is done so based on the predicted and planned organisational or building use. Then through the course of a building’s life, the areas being protected may be used in ways not foreseen when the security was first applied. In order to assess this actual use, the log of the access control system needs analysing – for example, to identify any access-controlled doors that have had fewer than four valid credentials pass through over the course of a month. The results of this analysis may indicate that the area in question is no longer being used, or that access is being gained by different means. The results give the security department precise information about how their systems are being used and the opportunity to modify the security of their buildings organically – in this case by removing the credential reader at any of these doors completely, saving maintenance costs as well as enhancing the security of the protected areas.
Using the same techniques, security departments can also analyse high-use or high-alarming areas in their buildings, which can help indicate where potential failures of equipment may be imminent. This more proactive use of data will mean that ahead of time these ‘problem areas’ can be booked in to be serviced as part of planned maintenance, leading to fewer engineer call-outs and minimising disruption of service, saving both time and money.
Increase the green credentials of a building by empowering other departments
Logs from existing access control systems can also be analysed to indicate trends and metrics that could be invaluable to other departments. For example, while an in-house caterer may learn the high and low times for customers with their own data, providing anonymised figures about numbers of personnel in the building and spikes during the day may uncover opportunities for additional revenue, or help reduce food wastage by planning quantities based on real data. This could make a real difference to operating costs, while improving the green profile of the business.
In addition, the data held in the access control system could be mined to uncover under-utilised space within the building. Analysing data may show that a particular area is under-used or even dormant for hours or days at a time, yet the lights remain switched on, or the air conditioning is still pumping. This kind of information about office utilisation patterns can then be translated into the restructuring of working practices, identification of team working routines and even the relocation of personnel to save the organisation the expense, both financially and environmentally, of servicing areas and offices. When this is expanded across a collection of buildings, suddenly the information that the security department is providing has the potential to save an organisation costs which could be put to more productive use.
These are just a few examples of where access control data can be put to work, building the profile and value of security within an organisation. There are many more applications, and many that will be unique for each organisation. So, in a world where data is king, now is the time to ensure it is nurtured, not neglected.
Head of Research & Innovation, Design Automator