Is it a true emergency?
How Real-Time Alerting Improves Situational Awareness
Today’s security challenges
Factories and corporate facilities rely on alarm systems as a key component to ensure that staff and assets are protected at all hours of the day. These systems can be localized or regional, and are often managed from within the facility from a central command center and require staff to be onsite. During business hours, the process works as it should for security staff. However, once the facility has closed for the night, the responsibility to monitor for sounding alarms, such as door access alarms, shifts to the facility or operations manager who are often remote and respond to phone calls or system messages.
Door access security alarms are often fragile but required systems. Subject to rattling doors and other non-threatening situations, these systems can be triggered at any time. When a door access alarm goes off in the dead of night, it needs to be attended. In many cases, like with retail stores, it is the regional manager or store manager that is tasked to respond to these alarms. Once the notification is received, they often must physically go down to the facility to validate and reset the alarm system.
As law enforcement often cannot respond until the alarm is verified, this presents a risk to staff. Since management has no way to quickly tell if it is a false alarm or if a serious problem is developing, companies often pay separate services to respond. These responses to the alarm are costly, especially when it was a false alarm triggered by wind or a moving object.
In addition to door alarms, most facilities also have extensive video camera systems as well as other security systems. While these added systems provide further insights, most are also only accessible from on-site security rooms. So, in the case of a door alarm sounding at night, this situation typically requires the manager to access cameras at the store to review video feeds before determining the nature of the alarm.
The greatest threat managers face is the unknown. With no ability to tap into video footage or understand what triggered the alarm, managers can only speculate about the cause. Was this alarm triggered by the wind, or is it a possible break-in? Having little to no understanding of the situation puts the responder in a difficult spot, as they could be walking into a potentially dangerous situation.
A better, safer way to improve situational awareness
Managers need a way to assess the circumstances to determine if they can handle the problem themselves, or if they need to involve law enforcement. When an alarm is triggered, management needs to know specific details about that alarm:
- What alarm was triggered, and where?
- What time was it triggered at?
- Was any suspicious activity caught on camera?
- Is the alarm critical or just an error?
By using the additional capability of a common operational picture visualization platform, managers can visualize existing systems like alarms, cameras mapped to exact indoor locations, specific door access controls, and other security systems. Combining available technologies from companies like HERE Venues (indoor mapping), Avigilon or Milestone VMS (camera video management systems), and Johnson Controls Access Control systems into a single operational view that can be remotely accessed, a new way to manage and secure facilities becomes available. While these are only a few examples of the systems that can be integrated together into one visualization platform, the extensibility provides unlimited functionality and helps improve situational awareness.
If a dangerous problem has developed, managers can quickly involve law enforcement. By using these various technologies combined together, managers can better direct police and give them greater details about the situation, like what area of the facility the problem started at, and any context they have determined from reviewing video feeds. Further details can then be assessed by reviewing historical data using the DVR-like function of these tools.
Live Earth is a data visualization software platform that combines these systems, with their ability to store and review information, and presents it in real-time for improved situational awareness. By using Live Earth’s interactive timeline, any activity before the alarm was triggered can be reviewed all in context. Users can monitor integrated indoor maps, alarms, access control systems, VMS, and any other security system and access all these separate components on a single screen. Managers would no longer need to rush down to their facility to respond a false alarm, or be fearful of walking into a threatening circumstance. This empowers managers to take control of the situation and gain better understanding of the problem.
By using the Live Earth GIS mapping software and data platform, facility managers gain a consolidated view that allows them to quickly triage alarms by pulling up VMS, door access, indoor mapping, and other systems of their facilities all at once. This increases situational awareness, improves safety, and empowers management to either resolve the problem themselves or involve the authorities.