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Smart Cameras, Smarter People

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Smart Cameras, Smarter People

New technology, especially security cameras with analytics features, are adding new capabilities and providing more reactive and proactive options. Today’s systems have capabilities previously seen only in the movies: pattern-based analytics, self-learning and AI (artificial intelligence) that can find security threats and suspicious patterns incredibly quickly and accurately. The new technology won’t replace security officers, but it will enable them to provide even greater security.

 

 

Spotting Potential Security Issues

Scenario 1: Looking Back for Clues

For example, you know a white van with green stripes was involved in an incident, or is suspected in an incident, on a corporate campus with 200 security cameras. Analytics software and a skilled security officer can find every instance that van was recorded by a security camera over the past few hours, days or weeks, typically in less than an hour. The security officer can build a timeline of the vehicle’s movements on the campus, as well as identify when anyone entered or left the vehicle.

Scenario 2: Looking Forward Proactively

Today’s cameras and software can also reverse-engineer that scenario. The security officer can use the software and camera system to be on the lookout for a white van with green stripes, and send an alert as soon as a vehicle matching that description is spotted.

If, say, a recently terminated employee is deemed a potential threat, and the security officer knows what type of vehicle that person is driving, the system can alert security as soon as that person drives onto the corporate campus.

Building and Managing a Complete System

Most importantly, software can now bridge different systems and different cameras from multiple manufacturers to build a complete, seamless system. Even older cameras can have the same capabilities as the latest generation, albeit possibly with lower resolution. Even if the images aren’t as sharp and clear, those cameras can still be an integral part of an early warning system, saving the costs of replacing equipment.

Cameras and Access Control

With facial recognition technology, the future won’t rely on keys, badges or card swipes, but on cameras and software that “recognize” employees and flag intruders and anyone not known by the system. This technology will be both more secure—an intruder could steal an employee’s badge or key card, but not an employee’s face—and more cost-effective.

The Human Element

Security cameras, software and other technology won’t replace security personnel. Instead, security officers will be more highly skilled in using that technology to provide higher levels of both reactive and proactive security.

For information on how Sunstates Security can combine technology with skilled personnel for a higher level of security, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

September 10th, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Security by Design: Best Practices in Secure Environments

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Security by Design: Best Practices in Secure Environments

Most commercial buildings begin with an architect and a designer. Outside, a landscaper or landscape architect will usually be tapped to provide the esthetic surroundings.

Open floorplans. Glass walls. Lots of windows. Outside, beautiful plantings.

These features may be pleasing to the eye. But they also can significantly compromise safety. Security would be greatly enhanced by including a security expert on the initial design team.

 

The Four Aspects of Designing for Safety

There are four key elements to corporate security:

  • Access control, especially in shared spaces
  • Landscape design that emphasizes security
  • Interior design that mitigates potential threats
  • Security-minded policies and procedures

Element 1: Access Control

Access control can be challenging when a building or campus is shared by different organizations. But there are several best practices that can mitigate the potential for security issues:

  • Individual access control for each office or tenant
  • A centralized communication system, such as a PA, to warn all occupants of potential or actual threats
  • Building-wide access control, so only those who belong in the building can enter
  • Security systems or personnel that can flag unusual activity

Consider, for example, the auto mechanic who was terminated at a West Coast auto dealership after weeks of poor performance, threats to co-workers, and other red flags. He went to his vehicle, retrieved a gun and returned, killing two former colleagues before committing suicide. Incidents such as this highlight what many businesses are now following as a best practice:

  • Have employees park in a secure area with controlled access
  • Restrict employees from visiting their vehicles during the workday or monitor employees who do so

Element 2: Exterior Design

Parking areas, pathways and landscaping should be designed with two goals in mind: perimeter security and elimination of hiding places.

Perimeter security means establishing layers of security, typically with multiple checkpoints and many opportunities to spot potential security issues. Ideally, this strategy positions the initial access control so that a would-be intruder would be stopped before being able to enter or penetrate a facility or campus.

For landscaping, the key is to eliminate not only hiding places for intruders attempting to enter the building, but also places where someone could attack or otherwise harm employees and visitors heading towards or away from the building.

Element 3: Interior Design

The same glass walls and bullpen-type seating areas that give a space a light and airy ambience have a serious drawback. In the event of an active shooter or other incident, employees have nowhere to hide. Walls, offices and secure doors make it possible to hide from an intruder.

Employees have three options when confronted by an active shooter: run, hide or fight. Interiors should be designed to maximize all three of those options. In addition, entrances should have a holding area that can be secured to prevent an intruder from entering the inner offices.

Element 4: Policies and Procedures

None of these steps, of course, will effectively mitigate potential security threats without employee training in the proper policies and procedures to spot and react to security issues.

For organizations without an internal security chief, a security consultant that offers employee training can be an invaluable resource. Security training should be part of every new employee’s orientation, and refresher training should be mandatory and regularly scheduled.

For information on how Sunstates Security can use technology and personnel to provide greater security, or for an evaluation of your existing security systems and strategies, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

 

Written by Sunstates Security

September 4th, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Commercial Property Class A Safety

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Think of the swanky downtown offices or high-rise apartments in your surrounding area. Chances are they’re what is known as a Class A property. Class A properties are generally newer
properties, well-located in the market and typically professionally managed. You may admire their size and architecture, but do you ever stop to think about the security that happens behind the scenes? It takes a special kind of security professional to perform the job well. They must interact well with tenants, cover a large area, and perform various duties. It’s important to be aware of common safety concerns and to pick the right security provider. After all, security professionals are a reflection of both their employer and the client.

Sunstates Security understands how important it is to acknowledge your organization’s culture and identify what is important in servicing your multiple levels of clientele: whether it’s your employees, visitors, or surrounding community. Security professionals working in these properties need to be able to balance a dual role. One component of their role is to serve as a public ambassador and provide the best experience for all tenants, contractors, and visitors. Security professionals must fulfill this side of the job while simultaneously ensuring that all property safety protocols are enforced.

Security professionals must cater to the public ambassador portion of the role in a multitude of ways. They are often responsible for greeting tenants (employees of the building, residents, etc.). They provide directions to guests, answer phone calls at reception, and more. Often, the mere physical presence of an officer while they perform their public ambassador duties can deter security threats.

The other component of a security professionals’ job in a Class A property is to monitor for physical security issues like “piggybacking” or “tailgating”, and maintenance issues. Piggybacking is when an individual enters the building directly behind someone who is authorized to be there, while they themselves are not. This could happen when someone swipes their access key to enter the building and another person follows through directly after without having their own key. Security professionals often are tasked with performing patrols around the building and on each floor to monitor for maintenance issues like water leaks and lighting outages. At Sunstates, our officers utilize electronic reporting tools that allow them to report issues like these as soon as they encounter them.

Given the duality of the role, it’s important you have security professionals who are recruited and trained to the highest standard. Sunstates has extensive experience hiring security professionals who can perform all aspects of this unique role. Contact us to learn more about our security services in Class A properties.

Written by Sunstates Security

August 20th, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Safety in Faith-Based Organizations

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On March 16, 2019 dozens were killed in a New Zealand mosque terror attack. This served as an important reminder that whether it’s a church or religious educational institution, there is always a possibility of safety threats. Faith-based organizations pride themselves on being open and inclusive, so how do they draw a line when it comes to safety? Having proper security in place helps make that line a little less blurry and can deter and prevent threats.

Common Threats:

• Vandalism
• Burglary/Break-Ins
• Violence
• Armed Intruders

Churches and religious institutions should be able to focus on their mission: providing safe places for people to gather, worship, and learn. Sunstates Security helps our clients do just that by providing security professionals that are trained to identify potential hazards before they become incidents.

How We Can Help:
                                                                     
• Emergency Action Plans
• Vulnerability Assessments
• Education and Awareness Training
• Efficient Communication
• Patrol Services
• Concierge Services – a friendly face to provide information and assistance

Often, the mere physical presence of security personnel can deter threats. When that’s not enough, our security professionals will work with you to establish and implement practice response plans.

Unfortunately, security is not always a priority until something significant happens. Be proactive instead of reactive. Don’t let yourself be an easy target – utilize security and know the limits to your open-door policy.

For information on how Sunstates Security can support your security program, please call 866-710-2019 or email us at SunstatesInfo@SunstatesSecurity.com.

Written by Sunstates Security

April 24th, 2019 at 2:43 pm

How Technology Adds Value to Security Services

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The foundation of good security is good people, and that’s always been the focus at Sunstates Security. At the same time, we’re always looking for opportunities to help our people provide even more value. That’s why we partner with proven experts as needed and we employ the best technology to enhance and extend what our security officers are doing. This policy allows us to apply best practices from a wide range of industries to enhance client security programs.

“We apply the concept of ‘dog fooding,’ where you should never promote or sell something that you’ve never tasted yourself,” says Sunstates President Glenn Burrell, CPP. “We identify a strategic partner and use their product or service to better understand its capabilities and limitations so we’re able to advise our clients on whether it’s an appropriate answer to their problem.”

New Solutions for Common Problems
Some of the technology we use is behind the scenes: our clients won’t necessarily know we’re using it. Some is more client facing. We constantly review the available technological solutions and work with trusted partners to employ the best solutions on clients’ behalf.

• Proximity Readers and License Plate Recognition Software. Many facilities, such as corporate/school campuses and residential communities, have a high volume of both regular traffic (e.g., residents, students, employees, etc.) and visitors (e.g., guests, vendors, etc.) driving in. We know what systems can most efficiently read a tag or other device from the front of a vehicle as it approaches a gate, allowing quicker entry. Pairing such technology with license plate recognition software can confirm identity.
• Key Tethers. A key tether connects a key (or set of keys) with another device and provides an instant alert when, say, keys are detached from a belt. We often also attach a GPS tile to find separated keys. Clients frequently entrust us with the keys to their facilities, and we have a critical responsibility to take care of their keys, regardless of cost. Key control is critical to our clients’ safety and well-being.
• KnoxBoxes. Many property management clients have maglocks on their doors because they’re convenient: access cards can be easily programmed to control access for individual employees. But those doors will lock down in a power outage. While they can be opened from the inside, authorized personnel cannot enter the facility, even with an access card. We’ve found a solution by using KnoxBoxes, which uses a master key—available for security or management—to open those doors manually.
• Mass Notification Systems. We partnered with Punch Technologies to offer clients the Punch Alert emergency communication platform. The system allows individuals to report emergencies and safety hazards through a smartphone app. In addition, the platform permits two-way communication during an incident, so users can submit information and responders can issue mass updates.

We evaluate new technology constantly to find solutions that provide a higher level of security and convenience to our clients. Technology will never replace the eyes and ears of trained security officers, but it can help them do their jobs better every day.

Do you have a challenging security issue that’s keeping you awake at night? Contact Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or email us. We’ll help you find a solution.

Written by Sunstates Security

August 14th, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Gated Communities: Combining Security + Public Relations

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Security in gated communities presents challenges that vary widely from other facilities. These residential settings also require specialized skill sets and personnel that, again, are quite different.

For example, at a school or corporate campus, it’s quite obvious if someone attempting to enter has a purpose or belongs there. At many gated communities, the sheer volume and variety of   people seeking entry requires an equal blend of rigor and diplomacy.

Community Challenges
With residential communities, security personnel serve as both protectors and as public ambassadors. The open setting creates access-control challenges as officers decide whether or not to grant entry. As a result, officers must follow policies and procedures firmly and courteously, even though diligence might anger residents whose visitors have been delayed.

“Most people would say, that’s good. It shows they’re doing their job,” says Sunstates President Glenn Burrell, CPP. “It’s fine when it’s someone else’s guest, but when it’s your guest, it can be a problem.”

Depending on the size of the community, high volume at peak hours can affect the surrounding neighborhood. For example, many homeowners’ associations (HOAs) do not allow contractors to start work before eight o’clock in the morning. Larger communities may have 100 contractors waiting for entry, which affects public roads. Consequently, security officers need to be aware of what’s happening beyond their immediate vicinity.

In addition, security must enforce HOA rules and regulations, as well as standard procedures for safety and security. Diplomacy is an essential skill in such settings.

Community Best Practices
Based on extensive experience serving this specialized market, Sunstates Security has identified several key practices for meeting the unique needs of gated communities:

• Comprehensive procedures. Security personnel should have procedures, developed jointly with community representatives, for handling every conceivable situation, from background checks to emergency incidents. Such planning can help minimize common issues, such as visitor backlogs. In many communities, for instance, all guests and contractors must have prior approval, which includes background screening for vendors.
• Selection and training. The delicate nature of residential security demands personnel with exceptional public-relations skills. A discriminating selection process identifies individuals with the right temperament and attitude. Then, specialized training expands on core security skills to include gatehouse operations, community patrols, homeowner relations and diplomacy. First-aid and AED training prepares security personnel to respond to medical emergencies.
• On-site management. Having a dedicated manager at the community full-time helps align the security team with homeowners, property managers and other stakeholders. Such individuals have extensive experience securing residential communities, and they have the power to make informed decisions quickly and efficiently.
• Technology. Modern technology offers powerful tools for supporting the security function, while minimizing inconvenience. For instance, systems can scan and capture information from drivers’ licenses and compare that information to sex crime/pedophile registries. Other technology vets and processes visitors and issues temporary badges. New vehicle identification technology uses microwave RFID and semi-active transponders to identify residents and other approved vehicles. A more affordable option, tag or card systems on vehicles can speed entry for residents, while flagging non-residents.
• Two-tier authentication. While technology is indispensable for modern communities, those with automated vehicle-access systems need to heed the cautionary tale of the Trojan horse. Currently, most systems only identify the vehicle, not the occupant(s). The latest technology provides two tiers of authorization: the vehicle tag only works if an additional reader assigned to the owner is also in the car.
• Law enforcement liaison. The community security force is an ally of local law enforcement, and vice versa. Both groups should serve as the eyes and ears of the community and communicate regularly about incidents and potential threats. In addition, security teams need to monitor local crime trends and prepare for possible challenges.
• Resident resource. Hosting special events where board members and residents can meet security staff and managers has two benefits: it fosters trust and creates better relationships, and it allows security personnel to hear about and discuss issues and concerns firsthand.

To discuss how Sunstates Security can meet the needs of your community, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

August 14th, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Managing Modern Threats with Protective Intelligence

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Managing Modern Threats with Protective Intelligence

Social media makes it easier than ever for like-minded individuals not only to find one another, but also to organize demonstrations for their cause. Consequently, more companies are calling on security partners for assistance in identifying and preparing for pop-up protests and other potential disruptions.
Technology can provide advance warning of such threats, but skilled human intervention continues to play a critical role in analyzing data and developing a sound strategy for risk management.

Sources of Intelligence
Advances in technology make security operations centers (SOCs) more affordable than ever, often providing in-house intelligence as needed. At the same time, organizations have other excellent information sources at their disposal for a fraction of the cost.

• Local partnerships. The same technology used to organize protests and other demonstrations also keeps the public informed of local developments. Many law enforcement agencies have email alert systems to notify residents of unusual conditions, such as extreme weather, vehicle accidents, and police activity. Most large cities have downtown alliances for businesses and other organizations that operate in these districts; information-sharing among members is an important benefit. In addition to these publicly available resources, private security teams should cultivate strong working relationships with local authorities, which encourage a two-way flow of information.
• Social media monitoring. Instead of relying on public alerts, more organizations are monitoring and analyzing social media activity, often through a partner with the tools and skills required to mine the raw data. Such monitoring efforts frequently fo-cus on a specific geographic area for a discrete period of time. For example, social media monitoring can provide real-time intelligence to support traveling executives and company events or to prepare for public reaction to current affairs, such as the student protests following the Parkland shooting.

Planning and prevention
Securing advance warning is only the first step. Managing potential threats requires more finesse than increasing the security staff in response to possible demonstrations.

• Staff management. While additional personnel may be required, a large, visible security presence may have the unintended effect of antagonizing protesters. Organizations should develop a strategy for making additional support available and ready to respond, without fueling already-high tensions.
• Building security. In some cases, it might make sense for an organization to go into lockdown mode and to prevent public access during a planned event. Even during a peaceful gathering, companies should have a plan for managing practical concerns, such as access control for employees and visitors and public runs on the restroom facilities.
• Training. Long before any potential threat materializes, security team members should complete training on non-violent crisis intervention. This specialized training teaches individuals how to defuse challenging situations before they escalate into crises.

To learn how Sunstates Security can assist your organization, please call 866-710-2019 or email us .

Written by Sunstates Security

May 1st, 2018 at 8:53 pm

4 New Year’s Resolutions for Security Directors

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4 New Year’s Resolutions for Security Directors

As we start the New Year, most of us have personal and professional goals to which we aspire. For security professionals, we recommend the following resolutions to help make 2018 a successful, uneventful one for your organization.

  1. Update and test the business continuity plan (BCP). Beyond the dangers of a national emergency, every organization needs a current, robust plan to recover from a crisis. In recent years, companies across the country have experienced disruption from weather emergencies. Advances in cloud computing and increasingly remote workforces are two developments that can have a dramatic impact on a BCP. The breakneck pace at which technology continues to transform business practices makes annual review and testing of BCPs more important than ever. Today, the plan should include procedures that apprise organizations of employees’ whereabouts—particularly when key personnel are traveling. Putting a plan on paper is not enough; companies need to conduct a tabletop exercise and drill at least annually.
  2. Establish (or enhance) an active shooter policy. Every company should have at least a basic policy that is communicated to employees. The U.S. Department of Homeland Safety publishes a guide that organizations can use as a starting point. In reviewing the active shooter policy, security directors need to keep in mind that the threat has increased. More shooters are forgoing handguns in favor of assault weapons. By the time police arrive, the assault is typically over. Contingency plans should include safe rooms where employees can retreat. In addition, organizations need clear guidelines regarding who closes and locks the door and when. Similar to BCPs, active shooter plans should also be tested annually with a combination of tabletop and live drills.
  3. Ensure vendor compliance with internal screening standards. Many organizations have strict background screening standards for their employees but don’t extend those requirements to vendors that provide contract or temporary personnel. As some companies have learned through repeated incidents and infractions, external partners may perform minimum screening to fulfill a vague contractual obligation. Outline the basic requirements for vendor background screenings in the security policy. At a minimum, service agreements should include this specific language. Preferably, the host organization should identify a trusted third party to ensure consistent screening standards for all on-site personnel.
  4. Perform penetration testing at key locations. While security protocols may appear iron-clad on paper, most are surprisingly easy to overcome. Resolve this year to put access control to the test: inspect perimeter fencing, check for blind spots in CCTV monitoring. Internal personnel can conduct preliminary testing, but organizations should consider contracting a qualified third party for unbiased reporting. Testing should focus on vulnerable entry points, testing the physical, human and technological aspects of the security program.

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization implement these resolutions, call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

January 26th, 2018 at 7:40 pm

Security Operations Centers: More Accessible Than Ever

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Security Operations Centers: More Accessible Than Ever

As technology becomes more sophisticated, more affordable and more compatible, an increasing number of organizations are developing security operations centers, or SOCs, to support their security programs. In fact, Sunstates Security has partnered with companies to manage these command centers both locally and internationally.

Benefits of GSOCs
No longer restricted to spy thrillers and global mega-corporations, SOCs allow small-to-medium enterprises to leverage technology in expanding their security capabilities, while reducing headcount.

  • Universal protocols. Managing security operations from a SOC makes it easier for large companies to apply security standards across their organizations. Controlling access from a central location, for instance, reduces the need to rely on individuals to follow company protocols. SOCs can help ensure that every facility adheres to the same procedures and benefits from the same level of security expertise.
  • Improved asset control. Many companies use these centers to provide additional layers of asset control. Local employees are trusted to do the right thing, and technology provides verification. For example, some companies track high-value shipments with GPS technology. Geo-fencing the route sends an alert if the vehicle travels a specific distance off course, and SOC personnel can contact the driver and offer assistance, if needed. Similarly, SOCs can support employees traveling to high-risk countries by providing information on demonstrations or other incidents that could affect their safety.
  • Remote monitoring. Technology integration has significantly increased the capabilities of SOC operators. In addition to monitoring an airplane hangar, for instance, to prevent tampering with corporate aircraft, security personnel can interact with individuals on site. In some cases, SOCs have allowed the remote identification of intruders, who ultimately left the facility before causing damage. Other operators have witnessed medical emergencies and directed responders to provide assistance.
  • Real-time intelligence. Some sophisticated organizations have built briefing rooms adjacent to the command centers. If a major incident affects a company or one of its operating regions, executive teams move to the briefing room, which duplicates many of the monitors and other equipment in the SOC.

Additional Considerations
In developing and supporting SOCs for client companies, we’ve seen some common misconceptions. Frequently, organizations tend to overestimate cost savings from reduction in security personnel, while underestimating the risk of information overload.

  • Lower headcount, higher skill level. Beyond the expense of creating the SOC, these sophisticated centers require highly skilled operators with specialized training. Security departments are “doing more with less” in terms of personnel, but these positions command higher pay, better benefits and increased training. At some locations, for instance, operators complete between 80 and 120 hours of one-on-one training before they enter the SOC.
  • Less is more. Many organizations want to fill an entire wall with monitors, allowing command-center personnel to view more areas at once. However, operators can only absorb so much information. A more efficient practice is to support primary monitors with secondary monitors. If an incident occurs, the relevant images are transferred to the primary screens.

Thinking of creating a SOC at your organization? Sunstates Security can help you optimize a control center from a security perspective, in addition to arranging tours of active SOCs. Call us at 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

January 26th, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Security Technology for Today—and Tomorrow

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At last month’s ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Dallas, technology dominated the showroom floor. Vendors showcased robots and drones, along with the ubiquitous access-control and surveillance systems. In the real world, however, even sophisticated organizations are waiting before taking the technological plunge.

This article highlights emerging technologies, as well as familiar systems that are doing more than ever—often for less money.

New Technologies

These advancements are emerging from science fiction novels and films into 21st century reality.

  • Robots. Several companies featured security robots as an alternative to human patrol officers. While these mechanical sentries offer cost savings and other benefits, such as the ability to capture video, they’re not likely to replace security personnel entirely. Robots may gradually find their way into corporate security forces, but they’ll ultimately report their findings to skilled humans. Still, continuing advancements in robotics will spark interesting debates in the coming years.
  • Drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are generating a lot of interest as the technology improves. While future restrictions inevitably will govern where, how and when these devices can fly, UAVs add a new dimension to surveillance, especially when conducting vulnerability assessments. Drones allow security teams to not only focus on their facilities, but also on potential threats beyond the site perimeter. Some companies are marketing drones that capture other drones, highlighting some of the privacy concerns created by these vehicles.
  • Facial Recognition. This technology recently went mainstream with the announcement of iPhone X. Apple’s $1,000+ smartphone will replace the familiar fingerprint reader with facial recognition, which is reportedly 20x more secure. Already, the technology is changing the security game. Last month, Chinese police used cameras equipped with automated facial recognition (AFR) software to arrest 25 wanted criminals at a beer festival, including one who had eluded authorities for a decade.

Improved Technologies

While not as exciting as the previous advances, the following technology improvements are transforming security in more subtle ways.

  • Investigative tools. Online proliferation of public data has enhanced investigations in recent years, while creating its own challenges. Consulting multiple sources for information consumes time, as does sifting through the results for relevance. New technologies are making it easier both to collect data in a single source and to narrow results for human analysis. Some of these tools remain prohibitively expensive for smaller organizations, but prices will fall as the technology evolves.
  • Access control. Today’s access-control systems offer increased security and efficiency, in addition to improving the user experience. Electronic systems can integrate with other and personnel management security systems. Plus, a missing access card can be quickly deactivated and replaced. New access-control technologies are amplifying these benefits, replacing cards with smartphones, mobile devices and biometrics.
  • Audio/visual recording. High-definition cameras, digital recorders and cloud computing have made it easier, and more affordable, than ever for businesses to upgrade their security systems. Many clients are replacing decade-old closed-circuit televisions with state-of-the-art systems that allow remote monitoring.

To discuss how these technologies can help your security program, call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

October 19th, 2017 at 4:05 pm