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by: Guest Blogger - Monday, November 4, 2013
Jeffrey Hawkins
American Military University

The attack on at a TSA security checkpoint Nov. 1 at Los Angeles International Airport seems to have shocked the media, politicians and the general public.

I truly hope that it did not come as a surprise to any law enforcement or security practitioner.

There is a false sense of security that has been created by investing billions of dollars in creating TSA and security checkpoints after 9/11.

Up until last week’s attack at LAX, many people really thought that they were safe from all threats at airports, and that could not be further from the truth.

In an article I wrote in July and several articles before that, I have expressed my concern with these TSA checkpoints, security in the terminal areas and the role of security and police.

Any metal detector/security checkpoint, be it at airports or elsewhere, without armed officers places everyone in jeopardy.

The fact that TSA has detected so many weapons over the years is laudable; however the fact that none of these weapons have been turned on them before the LAX incident is just lucky.

The initial thought of protecting airplanes from people getting on with weapons or explosives, as we experienced during the 9/11 attacks, is a good idea, but there is a distinct difference between a terrorist trying to “sneak” weapons or explosives onto a plane and an all-out assault.

And this applies to any security operation using metal detectors and security personnel.

One operation I was in charge of in Chicago years back was to provide security for a high-risk museum exhibit coming from another country. Even prior to the exhibit arriving, the museum was receiving threats.

The decision was made to deploy metal detectors for the three-month period that the exhibit would be in Chicago. It was a big decision at a big cost.

During the three months of the exhibit, we screened almost 400,000 people through three metal detectors. Every hour that the metal detectors were being used for screening the exhibit was staffed with nine off-duty armed police officers and 15 unarmed uniformed security officers; this was in addition to all other security personnel.

At the end of the three months the officers had confiscated 12 knives, six handguns and a stun gun.

Most of the people who had their weapons confiscated were honest people from other states who did not realize it was a felony to carry a handgun in Chicago even if you had a permit from another state. A couple of people were suspicious in nature and escorted out of the building, and the guy with the stun gun ran off once it was discovered.

But our role was to provide security, not to be the police and arrest or chase people; it was to keep everyone safe.

There was no way I would have staffed a metal detector checkpoint without armed officers being present—it doesn’t make sense when you are dealing with the public, especially in a high risk environment.

Case in point can be made with the incident in 2009 at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington. A man with a rifle walked in and immediately shot and killed a security officer point blank.

The death of that security officer was tragic, but the immediate response from other armed security officers at the metal detector checkpoint shows why staffing these points with armed officer is vital: Several officers drew their weapons and returned fire, shooting through the glass doors and striking the gunman several times, stopping him.

Had the gunman made his way past the checkpoint, thousands of people, many of them schoolchildren, were potential victims.

As security practitioners it is our job to avoid creating a false sense of security, even at the cost of being politically incorrect on gun issues or having to tell our employers the truth about costs and risks.

Jeffrey Hawkins is manager, strategic initiatives, private security sector for American Military University. He is a former law enforcement supervisor who transitioned into the private security sector serving as chief security officer in the pharmaceutical, health care, cultural properties, religious and corporate industries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by: Guest Blogger - Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Bhavin Shah
Marketing and Business Development, Polaris Wireless

Public safety and security provide significant growth opportunities for the location industry, in applications ranging from criminal surveillance to emergency response. But not all location solutions are alike, and some work better than others in powering the next-generation efforts of law enforcement and private security organizations. The two technologies most in use today are:

· Global Positioning System-based location systems. These require GPS receiver chipsets to be included in the caller’s mobile device. GPS solutions take relatively longer to locate a target resulting in possible life-threatening situations for emergency callers. GPS solutions work well in direct line-of-sight conditions with the satellites, such as suburban and rural areas, but are challenged in dense urban areas and indoor environments where most calls originate.

· RF Pattern Matching [RFPM] is a network-based positioning method based on radio-link measurements collected from the network, using the device’s own radio signals to identify its location and eliminate any dependency on satellites or other hardware. RFPM is able to locate all callers across any air interface and in any environment, eliminating limitations related to the phone type or network technology. RFPM works extremely well in non line-of-sight conditions, such as dense urban and indoor environments, and is highly reliable for mission-critical applications.

As high-accuracy wireless location solutions become increasingly prevalent in public safety applications, law enforcement organizations are finding new and creative uses:

· Gunshot detection. As profiled in a recent 60 Minutes episode, the Springfield, Mass., police department deployed a location-based application called ShotSpotter that detects the sources of gunshots using acoustic measurements, detecting over 4,000 gunshots in the first two years it was deployed, leading to more than 25 arrests.

· Augmented reality. Imagine an officer approaching a suspect location. By using location technology interfacing with court and police records that have been geo-tagged, the officer can instantly access all outstanding warrants, arrest records of persons living there, and other useful information to better assess the situation before he enters the building.

· Facial recognition. An officer can photograph a suspect in the field under surveillance and upload the photo to headquarters where it is instantly analyzed. The suspect identification and related information (criminal record, arrest warrants, known associates) is then relayed back to the officer, providing a real-time snapshot of the suspect and better equipping the officer.

· License plate reader. When tailing a suspect vehicle, an officer can scan license plates and check against a database to determine if the car is stolen, has been used in a crime, belongs to a crime suspect, etc. The location application can also alert other officers in the area if backup is required and determine the most optimal routes to intercept the suspect vehicle.

· Crime heat maps. Location technology can be used to create crime “heat maps” based on public safety statistics to identify concentrations of various types of crime, such as auto theft and burglary, and respond accordingly. The officer will be alerted when he has crossed a virtual geo-fence into such a hotspot so that the officer can prepare and respond. Similarly, headquarters can filter and analyze geo-tagged events such as arrests, 911 calls and more to determine patterns and better allocate resources.

Location-enabled solutions for security applications help protect the public and law enforcement officers, and they are cost effective, often resulting in smarter use of resources. Most importantly, high-accuracy wireless location technology gives public safety organizations an advantage over criminals and opens new doors to more advanced applications in the future.

Bhavin Shah leads the Marketing and Business Development activities for Polaris Wireless. He can be reached at: (408) 492-8900 or info@polariswireless.com.

 

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by: Guest Blogger - Friday, June 7, 2013

Education in the physical security sector remains remarkably low. According to a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, only 12 percent of security professionals have bachelor’s degrees, 42 percent have some college, and the remaining 46 percent have a high school diploma or less. However, many leading security professionals throughout the industry are working to change those statistics by putting education at the forefront of their security programs.

Marilyn Hollier, CPP, CHPA, is the director of HHC Security Services at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers. In her leadership role, she has made it one of her career objectives to ensure her security staff has the opportunity to achieve a higher level of education.

In January of 2014, Hollier will have a wider opportunity to share her outlook on education with other security leaders when she takes the helm as president of the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS). As president she will continue building the membership of hospitals around the country and the world promoting training and certification programs. IAHSS has also recently developed an educational partnership with American Military University to promote the value of education within the security industry. This partnership will jointly encourage those in the hospital security profession to pursue higher levels of education and help “professionalize” the security industry.

“I want a well-educated staff to help us be successful,” said Hollier. “As a leader, I tell all my employees that they are resources—their success is mine and my success is theirs.” She encourages all her employees to get their bachelor’s, master’s or other certifications. Employees are offered incentives to further their education, from bonuses after they complete programs to flexible work hours to account for school schedules.

The proof of her dedication to education is in the numbers. Out of her 166 staff members:

  • 12 have high school diplomas
  • 20 have Associate’s degrees
  • 123 have Bachelor’s degrees
  • 11 have Master’s degrees

 

Hollier makes a point to talk about education even during the interview process. “Before they sign on the dotted line, we make a verbal contract where they agree that they will train beyond their job,” she said. “They understand they are resources to this department and that I want them to be successful and continue their education if they can. It’s a win for us and a win for them.”

She attributes her focus on education partially to her own career experiences, specifically addressing some of the obstacles she faced during her early career. After getting her master’s degree in Urban Studies/Human Resources in 1987, Hollier said she had difficulty getting recognition for her academic achievements. “I struggled to get law enforcement and/or security leadership positions because I was often more educated than the people interviewing me,” she said. “I would think to myself: ‘I’m a resource to help you be successful,’ but they often saw me as a threat. That stayed with me and I learned from that,” she said.

Hollier also stresses the importance of professional certifications. Many on her leadership team have obtained theirs. She has eight Certified Healthcare Protection Administrators (CHPA) through IAHSS, four Certified Protection Professionals (CPP) and one Physical Security Professional (PSP) through ASIS International.

She has found that education helps build self-esteem and confidence among her employees. “It is common sense to me,” she said. “You get good at your job when you have a combination of education and experience. Education teaches you tools that you can try out in your job.”

Leischen Stelteris the coordinator of Social Media Integration at American Military University, writing about issues and trends in the physical security and public safety sectors. Stelter is the former managing editor of Security Director News. In addition to contributing to AMU Security Info, she also manages the blog, In Public Safety, which focuses on issues and trends in law enforcement, fire services, emergency management and national intelligence.

by: Guest Blogger - Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association was created in 2011 to assist loss prevention professionals and law enforcement officials by bringing the private sector and public sector together against the growing tide of organized retail crime.

We at NAORCA are dedicated and passionate about this topic. ORC has been linked to terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and the funding of other criminal gang activity in the United States and around the world. Everyday another international retail theft ring is uncovered.

Retail is global and so is organized retail crime. This is truly a global epidemic.

Our industry must continue to work together and build partnerships throughout the world. We can do this through education, training and awareness. Being on the front line in this fight I have seen all types of ORC, such as credit card fraud, check fraud, refund fraud, organized shoplifting, fake and altered receipts and price tags, E-fencing, burglary, robbery, smash-and-grab and counterfeit money and merchandise.

Retailers must continue to work together and share information about these criminal groups. As our industry continues to evolve, along with new technologies, we must try to be one step ahead of the criminal activity before it hits the bottom line.

Let’s stop being victims of this crime and stand up, work together, share information and make an impact.

Top executives must look at this as an industry problem and work with other retailers by sharing information and let go of the mindset that sending these criminals to another retail chain will solve the problem. Talk to the people who are out there in the field investigating these crimes, and look at the complexities and sophistication that these criminals have undertaken to commit these crimes.

Retailers can be proactive by establishing ORC units dedicated to this fight. They must continue to fund training and education in credit card, check, refund and gift-card fraud. They also must fund training in counterfeiting and e-crimes. 

Retailers could also provide funding to local, state and federal agencies that are on the front line in tackling these crimes. Funding could help with equipment, and help these agencies off set payroll dollars needed to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

NAORCA is dedicated to ORC education, training, and awareness not only to loss prevention and law enforcement but to many other industry sectors these types of crimes impact.

Christopher McGourty has more than 20 years of experience in loss prevention, including working for Filene’s Basement, TJX and Lowe’s Home Improvement and is a founder/board member of the National Anti-ORC Association Inc., www.naorca.org.

by: Guest Blogger - Friday, May 17, 2013

The recent spike in attacks upon members of the justice community in the United States has caused many to be concerned. Perhaps most disconcerting is the diversity of the attackers. A white supremacist parolee kills the head of Colorado's prison system, Tom Clements. A discredited former judge kills Prosecutor Mark Hasse and District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife. A rogue, discredited LAPD officer kills the daughter of the captain he felt failed him. In the wake of these attacks, personnel and offices are increasingly reevaluating security measures.

In my study, Murdered Justice: An Exploratory Study of Targeted Attacks upon the Justice Community, I found a total of 133 incidents of targeted violence against judges, prosecutors and cops between January 1950 and December 2012. This work rose out of the need to understand this type of violence, to understand the potential adversary. All too often I have heard command staff make a statement regarding security based upon assumption without any statistical or practical knowledge to support it. Many times, as my research revealed, they were incorrect.
    
Of these events, 63 were categorized as being completed; 41 were successful in killing the victim. Another 70 events were classified as attempts, wherein no violence against a targeted individual occurred, mostly due to law enforcement intervention.

While 63 attacks over six decades is a decidedly low frequency of occurrence, especially considering the number of murders that occur every year in this country, it is nevertheless still of note for a number of reasons. First, these attacks place judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers amongst the top four government members to be targeted for violence (the fourth profession being world leaders). Secondly, these murders are not the more commonly encountered random violence, nor do they stem from domestic issues. Rather, these are the most heinous of crimes, calculated and premeditated attacks for no other reason than the individual doing their job.     

My research revealed three primary motives for this violence. Revenge was by far the most common motive, accounting for 67 percent of all attempts/completed attacks against 108 victims.  Offenders' efforts to "derail and/or delay" an active investigation/prosecution was the second most common motive, accounting for 30 percent of the all incidents; there were 45 individuals targeted behind this motive. The final motive was one of "professional rivalry."  While only accounting for 3 percent of all attempts/attacks studied (none of which were perpetrated against prosecutors), these were of note for two reasons: All of the primary offenders (those instigating the attack) were current members of the justice community; and all were successful in killing the victim.

In examining the victimology of targeted violence, some variation was noted between the attempted and completed attacks. Members of the judiciary were the primary targeted victim, accounting for 35 percent of the attempts and 43 percent of the completed attacks.  Prosecutors were the target in 34 percent of the attempts, while law enforcement officers were targeted 31 percent of the time. However, in the completed attacks, a switch of positions was found, with law enforcement the victim of 30 percent of the completed attacks and prosecutors 27 percent.
 
The offenders behind these attempts and attacks were found to be predominately white male adults, followed closely by black male adults. In 83 percent of the instances of attempts to attack, the offenders were facing pending charges, in the instances of completed attacks, that percentage dropped to 48 percent. These charges included the expected violent and narcotic-related offenses, but also included a large number of fraud, property and, surprisingly, DUI-related crimes. There were also a large number of attempts and attacks stemming from civil- and divorce-related matters, which were almost exclusively targeting members of the judiciary.

One of the more unnerving findings of my study was in the locations selected by these offenders in which to stage their attacks. While a common assumption for such potential violence is that it would occur at or near the office and/or courthouse locations, my research revealed this not to be the case. The homes of members of the justice community were the site of 51 percent of all known attacks. While surprising, it makes sense from the perspective of anyone wanting to conduct a successful attack and escape. Office and/or courthouse locations throughout the United States continue to strengthen their security signature with armed officers, metal detectors, alarm systems and closed circuit television cameras. This serves the goal of presenting a formidable obstacle to potential offenders, thus causing them to look elsewhere for suitable sites of attack.

Conversely, the residences of most people provide an offender with many advantages. There is generally less overall lighting, pedestrian and vehicle traffic is often low, thus reducing potential witnesses, but perhaps most importantly, there is the tendency to reduce one's guard at home. No one, not even highly trained and experience law enforcement officers, are prepared to deal with an attack at their threshold. None of this has been lost on potential offenders. In the just the past three years, the number of attacks occurring at the residence has increased to 62 percent.
     
While my study focused on the criminal justice community, for those in corporate America, there were a number of similarities. Corporate executives ranked fifth in total instances of targeted attacks around the world. Like those targeting the justice community, the majority of these attacks occurred at or near the residence, followed closely by attacks during transit between locations. Worldwide, the attacks most often came in the form of shootings, however, in the United States, 58 percent were kidnappings. Equally of concern, most of these attacks occurred while the executives were by themselves, without any of the security normally afforded to them while at the office.

What this study reveals is, regardless of one's profession, all are susceptible to a targeted attack. As office locations continue to be hardened, potential adversaries will be forced to stage their attacks farther away from such locations. The sheer cost of a full-time protective detail is prohibitive for most organizations, government or corporate. This unfortunately results in the reality that for most people, security and awareness of potential hostile activity rests upon their shoulders. Security personnel can and should be proactive and provide these potential targets with an understanding of how and what to look for. It is only by understanding their individual vulnerability points, in relation to the indicators of a build up to attack, that early detection is possible. While this initial work can be considerable in terms of manhours, it is nothing when compared to the costs of a protective team.  More importantly, it is the one step that can be taken now, which with periodic updates, will last well into the future for that individual.
      
Glenn McGovern is a senior investigator in the Santa Clara, Calif., District Attorney's Office. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years, including being assigned to SWAT and Special Operations teams and working for three years on international terrorism investigations with the FBI.
 

by: Guest Blogger - Friday, February 1, 2013
Alan Kruglak
Genesis Security Systems

Post-installation service is becoming more and more of a critical concern for most end-users today. However, when qualifying potential vendors, they often make the simple mistake of asking this question: "Do you provide service after the project has been completed?"

The standard response from any vendor is: "Yes."

Unfortunately, the vendor gave the right answer while the real problem resides in the question. This question treats service as a peripheral commodity without fully understanding what it takes to meet the client's expectations for service.

Instead of asking the above question, a better question would be: "How do you achieve responsive excellent service?"

While there are many factors that go into establishing an effective service program, one of the most critical components is your prospective vendor's approach to product standardization. For instance, if a security integrator carries more than two access control products, the chances are that they will be less likely to fulfill the client's service requirements since their technical infrastructure is not standardized to a specific solution.

For those firms that adhere to strict product and design standards, the benefits and efficiencies of standardization surface in many areas. First, by standardizing to a limited number of name-brand products, a security integrator can afford to invest in technical training for their service personnel. At our firm, where we carry one and only one access control product line, with a total of 48 employees, we invest more than $100,000 annually in training. If we carried more products, this number would most likely have to double, maybe even triple.

If you select an integrator that believes in standardization, you are less likely to hear one of their technicians utter the most horrifying words: "I've never seen this product before."

The second benefit of standardization is that it enables an integrator to maintain a reasonable service inventory of spare parts. Using basic logic, if a company carries a broad range of products, its inventory would have to be so large that most firms would be unable to afford a large inventory. The default service plan would be that they would depend on the manufacturer to maintain a service inventory. Of course, when your system is down and you need an immediate response, you do not want to hear the technician say on Friday evening: "There is a spare part in California, and we will have it here by Monday, Tuesday at the latest." It happens all of the time.

At our firm, by adhering to strong standardization principles, we are able to maintain a $500,000 (wholesale) inventory local to our market, and all of our service vehicles are fully stocked with spares. There is an added benefit of stocking our service vehicles with spares. It decreases the downtime of our clients, thereby increasing client satisfaction. Most important, it also lowers our operating costs since it makes us more efficient.

So, when it comes time to investigate a potential vendor's service ability, go above the norm and ask the real questions:

1. How many access control products do you support?
2. How many of your technicians are factory-certified on the products that you install?
3. What is the wholesale value of your service inventory?
4. What is the wholesale value of parts on each of your service vehicles?

The above questions will get you the right answers to make the best-value decision for your organization.

Alan Kruglak is senior vice president of Genesis Security Systems, an electronic security systems integrator based in Germantown, Md.

by: Guest Blogger - Friday, January 25, 2013
Jeffrey A. Hawkins
American Military University

Over the last 30 years, several incidents stick out in my mind that either happened at institutions where I was chief security officer or happened to close colleagues. All taught me valuable lessons that are applicable to all organizations.

In one incident, a tragic accident happened in a public venue on a very busy summer Saturday afternoon. A young teen was killed in a fall in front of dozens of people, many children. It was a horrific scene. My colleague, who was on his way to a ballgame with his son, was called in.

My colleague told me after the incident that he had many security and emergency plans in place prior to the incident, but was taken by surprise when the captain of the fire department on the scene told him that he better get some counselors in for all the people that witnessed the death. My colleague told me that, being in a major city, he had alwayts assumed first responders would have people to contact for that type of thing. He never thought that would be his responsibility.

In another incident, a U.S- based research company was contacted by one of its employees. One of the helicopters the company had hired went down in a Peruvian jungle, most likely with fatalities, what should be done? The president of the organization, who later readily admitted that there were no plans in place for something like this, was suddenly faced with many critical decisions and actions to take. Who notifies the families? How do you get the bodies back to the United States? Who should go to Peru to handle the situation, if anyone, and who pays for all these expenses?

Shortly after, that company established a Crisis Management Team.

Security, law enforcement and first responders spend a lot of time trying to develop and implement ways to prevent incidents—from accidents to acts of violence—from happening, as well as how to respond quickly and efficiently when they do.

The fact of the matter is that security is never 100 percent. and incidents will continue to happen, be it at a school, church, corporate office or mall. All organizations must have a CMT in place, trained and ready to handle whatever may happen to or within their organization.

Often, organizations think their security team is the CMT. That could not be further from the truth.  Security personnel may be part of the CMT, but they are not the team itself.

The CMT handles an incident after it occurs and is generally given the authority to act quickly without having to contact executives or boards of directors, etc. This is a critical piece. The CMT must be given the authority to act, whether that means making public statements, dealing with authorities, making operational decisions or spending money.

The optimal CMT is usually small, about five people, with back-ups for each position. The members include representatives from human resources, finance, legal, facilities and security departments. These may be direct employees or may be outside contractors, especially in the areas of legal, insurance and finance.

What the CMT may have to handle is only limited by one's imagination. It may include everything from a fire. a death due to violence or medical problem, to a kidnapping, domestically or abroad.

Regularly scheduled tabletop exercises, from start to finish, is the best training team-members can receive. Coming up with scenarios is as simple as reading today's headlines and putting your organization in that situation. There will be many things that were never thought of, like counselors for children on a Saturday afternoon.

But this is the time to find out what you don't know, before an actual incident occurs.

Jeffrey A. Hawkins is manager, strategic initiatives for the private security sector, at American Military University. He has more than 30 years of experience as a public safety/security professional.
 

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by: Guest Blogger - Thursday, December 27, 2012
By Mike Nikzad
COO, Iomega Corp.

To better protect customers’ businesses, security professionals are entrusted to leverage new approaches and technologies to counter the latest threats. Yet many are hesitant to try emergent, less well-established solutions, instead favoring legacy methods and systems. By ignoring advancements, or at the very least putting them off, many security professionals are limiting themselves and their customers from reaping the benefits of current technologies.

They are also missing out on key opportunities to expand their service offerings and increase recurring monthly revenue through the adoption of cloud services and hosted software.

Aiming to align resources to maximize security, I thought it might be helpful to walk through a sample installation to show how easy and beneficial it can be to convert customers to a hosted video solution.

Standard needs
In this example, your customer is a modest, family-owned jewelry shop that has been in the local business community for 15 years. Until now, their security posture has primarily relied on a buzzed entry and thick bulletproof glass to fortify the shop. The bulletproof glass separates staff and merchandise from customers, enabling contact through transaction windows.

Three recent robberies in their strip mall have made the owners extremely concerned about their ability to secure the shop, and they have expressed a desire to improve security and upgrade to a contemporary surveillance system.

Your on-site survey reveals the following requirements: 1) the system must be easy to install and use without additional costs, equipment and maintenance; 2) they cannot afford significant software and hardware upgrades; 3) they want to monitor the shop after hours via remote video access. What do you recommend?

Solution found
This scenario seems ideal for a hosted video system. You recommend installing three networked cameras to capture video data, delivered to a 24/7 hosted video service.

Cameras: Using IP megapixel cameras, the deployment of an affordable and reliable hosted video surveillance solution is scalable, enabling new network cameras as the need arises. The network cameras stream live video with up to 1 megapixel resolution to a PC in the back of the store. During an event, users can activate an LED to illuminate the scene remotely, while using cameras to pan, tilt and zoom. Sensors on the camera provide motion detection, even in low light conditions.

Hosted Video: Combining the benefits of cloud storage technology, network attached storage and an integrated video management system, the HVSS enables your customer to access real-time and recorded surveillance video anytime and anywhere via a web-enabled device. The provider handles system maintenance and upgrades on the back-end, allowing for a full-featured, yet easy-to-use end-user system.

In the past, businesses have used elaborate and expensive DVR-based systems to store video data, but this model is showing its age in terms of cost, ease-of-use and technical capabilities. Savvy intruders know to find the DVR to destroy evidence.

External cloud-based storage platforms compare positively to DVRs and other internal storage platforms, allowing for backing up file copies in the cloud. The cloud-based hosted system eliminates the need for on-site DVRs, reducing security vulnerabilities with the video streamed and stored securely in an off-site data center.

An HVSS provides high performance, capacity and security, allowing the small business to recognize cost savings. A network attached storage device can work in tandem with the cloud storage service provider and IVMS, allowing users to record and store high-definition video locally while backing up a standard definition copy in the cloud for retention requirements and peace-of-mind.

Reducing the need for upfront capital investment, the HVSS’s small monthly operating expenses appeal to small businesses. As a hosted service, this model proves attractive to the integrator, offering RMR opportunities and further opportunities to entrench customer loyalty.

Security and confidence
Through a browser-based application, the owners have access to live video feeds from different areas of the store. The staff feels much safer with camera surveillance. When someone is working with a customer, other staff can keep an eye on them, simultaneously scanning other areas, too. The owners can log into the system to check on their business after hours.

Conclusion
By embracing today’s cloud-based tools and hosted service models, you can help your customers to more strategically align resources and maximize protection. Thanks to the affordability, ease of installation and management, a hosted video service is often the right solution for businesses of all sizes. Moving video surveillance data storage into hosted and cloud-based environments enables small business customers to recognize gains in efficiency, flexibility and scalability.

 Mike Nikzad is the chief operating officer of the Iomega Corporation, an EMC Company.  
 

by: Guest Blogger - Monday, December 3, 2012
Andrew Wren
CEO of Wren Solutions

In 2012, as in years past, loss through shrink has continued to plague retailers. While investments in security technologies have contributed to a slight dip in the numbers over 2011, shoplifting and employee theft remain considerable threats and key areas of focus for retail security professionals. Looking ahead, mobility offers opportunities and challenges in equal measure as the industry awaits standardization on a mobile payment platform and the explosive growth—and security concerns—that are bound to follow. 

In 2013, traditional threats and new technologies will continue to converge, creating an environment rich in prospects for advancement in retail loss prevention tools and the professionals who wield them. Additionally, as the lines between IT and loss prevention bend and blur, it is incumbent upon security professionals to both ensure a basic understanding of underlying retail technologies and partner fully with the IT professionals tasked with supporting emerging systems such as mobile point-of-sale.

To Know the Future, Look Back

The FBI has estimated that, nationally, organized retail crime costs the industry around $30 billion a year. In response, the National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association was created “to bring the law enforcement community and the private sectors together to fight the worldwide epidemic of organized retail crime.” The Safe Doses Act was passed in October of this year “to fight theft of prescription painkillers from points of the supply chain, from the drug warehouse to the delivery truck to the pharmacy, by increasing penalties and giving law enforcement wiretaps access, among other tools to combat drug rings.” Last year, employee theft was at the top of the list of sources of shrink according to the Nation Retail Security Survey, and shoplifting was a close second.

Traditional threats to retailers continue not only to exist but to thrive. Clearly, offering a safe and secure environment for customers and employees continues to be a top priority for retail security teams. With technological advances, however, the concept of “safe and secure” has grown to include new threats beyond personal safety and asset security to include the securing of personal information, data and even personal identity. For security and loss prevention professionals, this has led to a flurry of new information and standards that accompany the move toward digital, mobile and a vast array of tech-enabled security measures.

Maintaining a safe and secure environment increasingly requires a working knowledge of and cooperation with IT. In fact, as we move into 2013, the lines between IT and security will continue to blur as security professionals work to gain a better understanding of the technology associated with advancements such as mobility—as well as the implications for security—and IT professionals’ responsibilities continue to overlap into the realm once belonging solely to security and loss prevention.

Tech-Savvy Security

At 1.42 percent, the average retail shrinkage in 2011, according to the NRSS, was the lowest ever recorded in the 22 years the survey has been conducted. Many in the field, including Dr. Richard Hollinger, director of the Security Research Project, which conducts the annual NRSS, credit retail technologies for the reduction of shrink numbers.

In addition to enabling a wide range of solutions to assist in the protection of employees, customers and assets, technology serves another, equally important and perhaps more visible, purpose: meeting the needs and desires of customers who want the convenience of mobility. Where IP video surveillance serves security teams by providing broader capabilities in identifying and addressing theft and loss, mobile POS gives customers what they want. With both, however, come the challenges of understanding the technologies well enough to serve as a valuable partner to IT and ensure optimal adoption and deployment.

Take the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, for example. The standard has been put in place to ensure that all companies processing, storing or transmitting credit card information maintain a secure environment. The standard applies no matter how the data is collected (by phone, online, in person, etc.). However, with mobile technologies advancing so quickly, and consumers demanding mobile options “now,” ensuring compliance to the PCI DSS will pose yet another challenge for many security professionals. Those well acquainted with mobile technologies, and working closely with their technical counterparts, stand a much better chance of ensuring compliance and reducing issues regarding consumer data and company information.

In 2013, we will see the lines between the security and IT functions continue to thin and blur as technology and security depend more heavily on one another. The demand for mobility leaves retailers no choice but to offer what consumers desire most or lose out to the competition. In the age-old battle against pervasive loss as a result of theft, we’ll see more retailers adopting IP video surveillance and IP analytics, remote monitoring, shelf-mounted cameras and, according to the NRSS’s Hollinger, POS exception-based CCTV interfaced systems. To be effective, these technologies, like mobile payments, must be carefully selected, deployed and secured. This will require IT and security professionals to come together in an unprecedented way, creating a new standard in retail security.

Andrew Wren serves as chief executive officer of Wren Solutions, a loss prevention technology provider helping leading retailers reduce loss and increase profits. Wren is responsible for corporate and product strategy, leveraging his more than two decades of security technology expertise. To learn more about Wren Solutions, visit www.wrensolutions.com.  

 

by: Guest Blogger - Thursday, November 1, 2012
Andrew Wren
CEO of Wren Solutions

Black Friday is a unique day for retailers. While the “black” in Black Friday represents profitability, for retail security professionals, the “black” could just as easily represent the sense of foreboding brought on by the promise of long lines, anxious shoppers, crowded stores, an abundance of merchandise on display and all of the safety and security risks that come with all of this. How will you know if you are ready?

According to the National Retail Federation, a record 226 million consumers shopped in stores and online between the Thursday and Sunday surrounding Black Friday last year. And that is likely to increase in 2012. As recently as October, NRF pointed to an increase in spending in September of this year and expressed guarded optimism regarding consumer spending through the end of the year. There are many uncertainties this year surrounding the fiscal cliff, gas prices and the economy in general. However, there is good reason to believe Black Friday will once again bring crowds of shoppers, all looking for a deal.

As this day approaches, security professionals must take the lead in preparing for crowds and addressing the need to protect assets, limit losses and ensure a safe environment for employees as well as shoppers. This requires careful planning, monitoring of plans to ensure they are deployed effectively and precise execution. Taking it one step further, all of this must take place with the overarching goal of providing an enjoyable customer experience that encourages shoppers to spend time—and money—in the store.

Safety and security
In 2008, a worker was trampled to death during the opening of a Black Friday sale. In response to an increase in crowd-related injuries, including the 2008 tragedy, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration created Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for Retailers, a road map for offering a safe environment during a large customer event such as Black Friday.

Many of OSHA’s recommendations for safety cross over into security. For example, ensuring employees are trained to manage crowds and are stationed appropriately in addition to placement of trained security or police officers. These precautions simultaneously ensure the kind of visible presence—of employees and security personnel—that can serve as a deterrent to theft.

OSHA’s recommendations are key, but implementing them is just the beginning. To ensure safety, security of assets and uncompromised implementation of business best practices on Black Friday, begin now by conducting a pre-event audit, including the following elements:

•    A store-opening checklist is beneficial at any time, but on Black Friday, it can help ensure that every employee knows exactly what is expected of them and every process is documented and optimized when the doors open to eager, impatient crowds. This limits confusion and increases the probability of a safe and successful event.

•    A test of all alarm systems and video surveillance cameras will facilitate identification of any equipment that is not functioning properly and confirm that cameras are capturing images in critical areas, allowing for adjustment or repairs as needed before the big day arrives.

•    Confirmation that OSHA Crowd Management Safety Guidelines are being followed will also help ensure that employees have been assigned duties that are specific to the event—for example, additional greeters to accommodate the crowd or security personnel at front doors or emergency exits.

•    A review of the inventory receiving process will minimize the opportunity for loss due to mislabeled, damaged or incorrectly processed items. Limiting the probability of a breakdown in process is key to avoiding shrink on even the most ordinary of days—its importance during an event like Black Friday cannot be overstated.

When exceptions arise during this pre-event audit, ensure immediate resolution by sharing photographic evidence, attached to audit questions, with those responsible. Retrain where necessary. Black Friday can act as a magnifying glass, bringing otherwise “minor” issues to the forefront and multiplying their effect simply due to the nature and scope of the event. Don’t wait for Black Friday to shine the light on threats to safety and security.

About the author
Andrew Wren serves as chief executive officer of Wren Solutions, a loss prevention technology provider helping leading retailers reduce loss and increase profits. Wren is responsible for corporate and product strategy, leveraging his more than two decades of security technology expertise. To learn more about Wren Solutions, visit www.wrensolutions.com. 

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