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Archive for the ‘Security Technology’ Category

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

How Technology is Transforming the Security Industry

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Technology continues to evolve at dizzying speed, but don’t expect drones and robots to replace security personnel any time soon. Some of these new technologies, while exciting, remain impractical. Between 2008 and 2010, many security departments were cut to reduce costs, and their budgets were never restored. Consequently, most security directors have neither the resources nor the desire to overhaul their departments with the latest technological innovations.

That said, many companies are supplementing their existing security programs with technology. More clients ask us to find ways to provide smarter security by pairing technology with personnel. In many cases, the result is a reduction in manned hours and an increase in the skills required by the remaining team.

Sometimes the analysis identifies situations where a human touch is preferred. Tenants and clients often appreciate having a friendly security officer open the door and watch over them after hours. Technology excels at providing coverage, not comfort.

Not an Either-Or Scenario

Security rarely comes down to choosing technology over personnel, or vice versa. At Sunstates we continually evaluate new tools to help us better protect clients, and we adapt our offerings accordingly.

As a result, our organization is unrecognizable from a technological perspective, compared to 10 years ago. Many of our officers use smartphones in their daily duties: performing patrols, scanning checkpoints, recording shift details, and reporting incidents. Our paperless hiring process ensures that prospective employees have the necessary computer skills to succeed at Sunstates, from completing training modules in our Learning Management System to using the modern tools of the trade.

By embracing technology and encouraging employees to do the same, we’ve empowered our personnel and created new opportunities for them. Our employees can confirm their schedules and their paychecks online, download benefits documentation, and complete professional development courses. We’ve seen a marked improvement in the capabilities of our security officers in the past decade—a trend that benefits employees and clients.

An Effective Partnership

A New Jersey client reported missing bronze bearings to the on-duty security supervisor. The client provided a description of the missing items, their location, and a suspected time frame for the theft. The supervisor reviewed security footage for the relevant period and immediately identified the responsible individual, who was subsequently terminated. Per policy, the officer searched the employee’s car before his departure and discovered a scrap yard receipt, which was dated several weeks earlier than the discovered theft.

Over the next several days, the supervisor reviewed six weeks of security footage and uncovered 12 additional thefts of bronze metals. He identified the items taken during each incident, exact time and date of each loss, and the thief’s methodology. He also interviewed client employees regarding accountability of materials and procedures for using, and accounting for, items.

This effective combination of security technology and skilled personnel helped the client recover more than $30,000 in stolen materials, while providing valuable recommendations for preventing future thefts and loss.

Like so many other industries, technology is transforming security not by replacing personnel with cameras or robots, but by helping humans to work more efficiently and effectively.

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization support security with technology, call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

October 19th, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Sunstates Security Partners with Punch Technologies to Enhance Client, Public Safety

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North Carolina firms collaborate in shared mission to promote community safety

Punch Alert

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RALEIGH, N.C., September 6, 2016—Sunstates Security has partnered with Punch Technologies to offer the Punch Alert emergency communication platform to clients as part of its expanding technology arsenal. The system crowdsources safety and security by allowing individuals to report emergencies and safety hazards via a smartphone app. In addition, the platform permits two-way communication during an incident, enabling users to submit information and responders to deliver mass updates.

“We’re excited to introduce the Punch Alert system to our clients,” says President Glenn Burrell, who founded Sunstates Security after serving 20 years in Scotland Yard. “Not only is the system easy to use, but it can also be customized to fit the specific needs of each organization and location.”

The enterprise platform includes geofencing to restrict tracking to on-site users. The system uses GPS, WiFi and optional iBeacon/Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to capture the location of the initial report and actively monitor the position of all community members for the duration of an incident.

“Both Punch Technologies and Sunstates share a common vision for an inclusive, interactive approach to community safety. Standard one-way mass notifications and physical panic buttons for employees are not enough,” says Greg Artzt, CEO of Punch Technologies. “Safety is best achieved when anyone in the community can easily report an incident or submit information. And fast resolution occurs when on-site responders can manage situations with real-time intelligence.”

Designed to fit any organizational type—public facilities, educational institutions, healthcare or corporations—the platform also allows designated personnel to send announcements about closings or safety hazards. These alerts can target specific groups or go out as mass notifications.

“This type of proactive technology could prevent a terrorist event or save a life during a medical emergency,” adds Burrell. “Supporting the platform with a skilled security team enhances its effectiveness, making this a true strategic partnership.”

Based in Raleigh, N.C., Sunstates Security provides uniformed security personnel and security consulting services to clients throughout the United States. The company is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Greater Business Women’s Council, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

Punch Technologies is a mobile software company based in Charlotte, N.C. They are the creators of the Punch Alert mobile security and communication platform. The Punch Alert Platform is the only all-in-one emergency communication platform leveraging both GPS and iBeacon location technology.

 

Written by Sunstates Security

September 6th, 2016 at 9:09 pm

USING TECHNOLOGY FOR MAXIMUM SECURITY EFFICIENCY

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Technology is everywhere. It fills so many facets of our daily lives that we barely notice it. It has made our lives more efficient, more productive in often surprising ways. This is especially true for the security industry.Image for USING TECHNOLOGY FOR MAXIMUM SECURITY EFFICIENCY Post

Metal detectors, door access controls, remote cameras, and various types of sensors have been security mainstays for years, but they are only part of the picture. New and innovative applications make security officers more efficient and improve customer service.

Advances in security technology

The capabilities of technology have increased by leaps and bounds, even as the cost of technology has decreased, sometimes drastically. Sophisticated remote cameras and controls, automated systems, and complex command centers are available now at a fraction of their previous cost. This makes that technology attractive to companies seeking the most favorable ratio of cost to security coverage. However, proper operation requires skilled personnel with special training.

Today, smartphone technology and applications can streamline important but time-consuming administrative tasks previously associated with security patrols and incident reporting. Smartphones can now log and time-stamp a security officer’s rounds automatically via WiFi and GPS, as well as help create timely, and more accurate, incident reports. These tools not only reduce the potential for error, but also minimizes the time spent writing and filing logs and reports.

This same officer now has more time available to provide a security presence.

Augmenting other duties with security presence

Integrating security services with other personnel duties is an increasingly common practice.

Rather than a receptionist, for example, whose job is to answer phones and greet guests, a security officer skilled in public relations can fill that role, bringing additional security expertise to that front-line position. Similarly, using security personnel for mailroom or concierge responsibilities can create additional efficiencies,

“At the end of the day, technology means better tools,” says Denis Kelly, Executive Vice President of Sunstates. “Someone still needs to use it. The right technology can make existing personnel more productive and more accurate. The key is finding the right balance of people and tools.”

Sunstates Security can help you integrate state-of-the-art security technology and trained security officers into your organization. We’ve been doing it since 1998. Contact us today to find out how.

Written by Sunstates Security

January 19th, 2016 at 8:07 pm

MASS NOTIFICATION SYSTEMS (MNS): NEWEST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST AN ERA OF VIOLENCE AND DISASTER

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If the Sandy Hook gunman had gone into the school and pulled the fire alarm, the number of victims could have been far higher. He would have had ample confused targets as students and teachers evacuated the building. A simple fire alarm is not sufficient anymore and may, by itself, be a safety hazard.

Organizations of all sizes must be able to communicate quickly and effectively with all personnel in more types of crises than a simple fire alarm. Mass shootings, bomb threats, terrorist attacks, amber alerts, and on-site disasters are facts of life in today’s world.

Lessons from Community Policing

Sunstates president Glenn Burrell says that the key to effective security is to make all personnel invested and participatory in their own security. From his experiences as a police officer on the beat, he says, “I was good at getting people in the community to trust me and give me information. I was only as effective as the people I was policing would allow me to be. If windows were drawn and doors locked when I passed, then my job was impossible. Being fed information from numerous sources allowed me to see the big picture. The same thing goes for an organization—it’s a community.”

Organizations must trust their employees or partners to watch over everyone’s safety. Don’t assume that someone else will report something amiss. This kind of cooperation does not happen overnight, but only through training and education, from top to bottom.

Mass Notification Systems: The Fire Alarm of the Future

According to Burrell, the future in workplace crisis management lie in Mass Notification Systems (MNS) that incorporate the community-minded approach and take advantage of all existing communication channels.

“Many schools already use mass text messaging to notify parents of any issues,” Burrell says. “Parents want to know if there is a crisis event. However, those systems rely on cell phones. This is fine unless excessive traffic—as in the case of crisis or natural disaster—crashes the network.”

Mass Notifications Systems, therefore, cannot be tied to one channel of communication—e.g., cell phones, text messaging, email—because of a wide variety of contingencies, such as power or cell network outage. During the Boston marathon bombing, for example, the cell phone network was shut down to prevent any further detonations that might have been triggered by cell phones.

The key is to include Wi-Fi as an additional communication channel, and in situations where seconds count, this is a huge advantage.

Good Communication Equals Business Continuity

Many incidents can be mitigated or negated by an early tip. Organizations must have the ability to stand everyone down from evacuating a building if an alarm is false or a ruse to clear a building. Having the ability to tell everyone in mid-flight to “stand down” and “take cover” is critical to saving lives. Furthermore, Sunstates’ own research shows that employees or associates feel more valued by organizations that allow them to communicate freely and openly with the security team. It’s a powerful way for a company to tell its employees, “We take your safety so seriously, we’re investing in it.”

The average workers’ compensation claim costs an organization $43k in lost time and compensation. Everyone in the organization should share tips on safety information—a picture of a malfunctioning door, a tripping hazard, a dangerous equipment problem—so that the problem can be fixed proactively. Organizations can save themselves significant time and effort by empowering their employees.

Nowadays, MNS is crucial to any business continuity plan. These systems give organizations the ability to notify all employees of a threat, fire, etc., with instructions about where to go and what to do—instantly. Glenn Burrell says, “Companies should incorporate MNS as a critical part of their business continuity plan.”

Contact Sunstates Security today for more information about Mass Notification Systems. Our specialists will be happy to assist with your business continuity needs.

Sources: Nacelewicz, Tess. “High Profile Bombing, Shootings Drive MNS Market.” June 10, 2013. Security Director News. http://www.securitydirectornews.com/general-news/high-profile-bombing-shootings-drive-mns-market

Written by Sunstates Security

September 18th, 2013 at 8:30 pm

COMBATING CYBER-INSECURITY IN A CONNECTED WORLD

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Image for Cybersecurity Best Practices Post

Cyber-space

According to a February 2013 report released by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Chinese hackers are engaged in a massive, ongoing cyber-espionage campaign targeting U.S. companies. The systematic campaign targets nearly every sector of the U.S. economy, from aerospace and automotive to finance, energy, media and technology—even breaking into the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Estimated losses are tens of billions of dollars in compromised intellectual property.

Other countries’ cyber-espionage programs cited in the report—France, Russia and Israel, among others—are less widespread but just as dangerous, and all for economic gain. American intellectual property and business secrets—perhaps yours—are worth billions of dollars.

Sunstates president Glenn Burrell says, “This is not a plot from an action-thriller film; it is real and happening right now.”

Is your company doing all it can to prevent cyber-attacks and protect valuable assets? Burrell offers the following best practices to enhance your security.

Best Practices for Cyber-Defense 

  • Assess network infrastructure and identify risks. Organizations must assess their network infrastructure and make sure that their IT staff has the support from management to build a successful security program. Then, they need to establish a system for identifying and analyzing security risks.
  • Create and document cyber-security policies. Companies need to identify every segment of their infrastructure and place everything under the governance of their security policy. Look for vulnerable or unprotected devices or access points, and define the process by which these vulnerabilities are to be removed or brought into compliance.
  • Implement and test firewalls. Firewalls are the first line of defense in any network. While they are common practice nowadays and not to be overlooked, they are not always sufficient, however, particularly with laptops, which may have outdated anti-virus software or firewalls.
  • Secure remote access with strong authentication techniques and quarantine technology that identifies vulnerable remote devices.
  • Control access to high-level risk points such as servers, back-ups and administration systems with stringent security policies.
  • Establish password policies that make passwords harder to break. Mandatory password resets, password requirements such as using both upper and lower case characters, special characters, numbers, minimum length, etc., are all techniques that increase password security. The majority of hacked passwords consist of names, birthdays, all the things that most people will have as their passwords. Cyber-security audits still routinely find computers with passwords taped to the underside of keyboards, a practice that should be strictly forbidden by any security-conscious organization.
  • Conduct annual third-party security audits. Audits can identify hidden or overlooked vulnerabilities in an organization’s infrastructure. Companies should not wait to be attacked before performing a security audit. Auditors have the resources to test—and strengthen—an organization’s cyber-defenses.

 For assistance with your cyber-security needs, contact Sunstates Security today. Our specialists can help you develop a security plan tailored to your unique situation.

Written by Sunstates Security

September 18th, 2013 at 8:24 pm

HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN ENHANCE, NOT ELIMINATE, HUMAN SECURITY

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In an era of economic crunch and shrinking budgets, companies nationwide are searching for efficiency wherever they can find it. Security systems and services are often the firstcorners to be cut, and companies replace on-site personnel with video cameras and other security automation.

But financial challenges can also spur innovative business practices, and savvy organizations can find many ways to reduce costs while still ensuring consistently high service for clients. Replacing human security staff with technology, however, is not necessarily the way to go. This common mistake can lead to unseen costs that are even higher than the original expense.

Sunstates Security has successfully employed a variety of technology practices to both enhance service and reduce costs.

Automated payroll
One of the greatest personnel challenges in the security industry is scheduling and payroll accuracy. If a company’s payroll system fails, employee morale tanks, and client service suffers. Sunstates has adopted a fully integrated secure ‘cloud’ online portal management system custom designed for our use in the security services industry that takes care of schedules, payroll, and recordkeeping. As a result, Sunstates consistently achieves 99.99% payroll accuracy.

Mobile technology
Another use of readily available technology is placing GPS units on patrol vehicles. An electronic zone can be created to alert supervisors or clients if a vehicle leaves the zone without authorization, or exceeds a certain speed. As a result, on-site accidents have been reduced by 50% in the three years the system has been in use. Officer locations can be monitored in real time, and clients can be assured of compliance with contracts.

Electronic reports
Sunstates is also striving toward a completely computerized system for daily activity and incident reports. This means less paper, less manual labor in transferring documents, less storage space, and fewer general office supplies. Electronic records are easier and faster to search, and they can be easily shared with clients through Sunstates’ online portals. Currently, 50% of Sunstates’ reporting is electronic.

In addition to the tools above, Sunstates has several exciting initiatives planned for 2012.

Centralized quality assurance
In early 2012, Sunstates will roll out a centralized inspection and quality assurance process. All training records and human resource functions will be available online for our clients. Sunstates has been using an automated system since 2006, an investment that ultimately reduced costs and improved customer service.

Online learning
The Learning Management System (LMS) is another proprietary online portal that will allow officers and clients access to an exhaustive library of training programs. With more than 100 topics planned, ranging from blood-borne pathogens and other first aid education to report writing and identifying suspicious activity, the LMS system provides qualified ongoing training for Sunstates’ officers, which, in turn, means better service for their clients.

Sunstates Security can help your organization streamline its security system through adoption of technologies that improve customer service and cut costs at the same time. Contact us today to find out how.

Contact Sunstates Security

866-710-2019

www.SunstatesSecurity.com

Written by Sunstates Security

January 19th, 2012 at 5:24 pm