Building Your Business: Explaining ‘Big Data’ in a Security Context

The vast amounts data generated by video surveillance and access control systems, which has long been discarded as a regular practice, can now be mined to provide end users with new-found business efficiencies. These cloud-based solutions reduce organizational costs and improve security through increased intelligence.

Today the term “Big Data” is starting to draw a lot of attention from technology professionals, but behind the hype there’s a simple story. For decades, large companies have been making business decisions based on historical data stored in a variety of databases. Beyond this critical data, however, is a potential goldmine of nontraditional, less structured and previously unrelated data that can be mined for useful information.

Decreases in the cost of both storage and computing power have made it feasible to collect this data, which would have been thrown away only a few years ago. As a result, more and more companies are looking to link data that was previously thought to be unrelated, and beginning to apply smart business intelligence analysis to provide quality management information.

Integrators are well positioned to help end users leverage these Big Data systems, and in doing so ascertain relevant actualities from security data that can be applied beyond a physical security operation. The end game is to create a return on investment (ROI) for the business overall.

Solution Control Via Single User Interface

Traditional security processes and systems have the potential to generate a huge amount of Big Data, but Big Data in isolation is meaningless. The end goal has to be the provision of risk-based information allowing improved security decision making — based on prioritized, actionable insight derived from Big Data. Based upon information from traditional IT data mining, the amount of data available to be analyzed by corporate security departments is likely to double every year through 2016, and coupled with other relevant facility and risk management data the task may seem impossible.

During the past several years a category of cloud-based, hosted-solution software that provides an integration platform and applications has been created. These systems are designed to integrate multiple security applications and devices and control them through one comprehensive user interface. The software collects and correlates events from existing disparate security, facility management, risk and information systems to enable personnel to identify and proactively resolve situations.

The system acts as a central repository for data and manipulates the data to produce actionable information using a sophisticated work rules engine. The integration of applications across security, risk and facility management provides numerous organizational benefits, including increased control, improved situational awareness, and timely and accurate management reporting. Ultimately, these cloud-based solutions allow organizations to reduce costs through improved efficiency and to improve security through increased intelligence.

Typically the central repository software comprised of a suite of tools has six key capabilities:

Collection — The software collects data from any number of existing disparate systems.

Analysis — The system analyzes and correlates the data, events and activities to identify the real situations and their priority based upon defined work rules.

Verification — The software presents the relevant situation information in a quick and easily digestible format for an operator to review and validate.

Resolution — The system provides mitigation actions and step-by-step instructions based on best practices and an organization’s policies, and tools such as a risk audit process to resolve the situation.

Reporting — The software tracks all the information and steps for compliance reporting, training and, potentially, in-depth investigative analysis.

Audit trail — The software also monitors how each user interacts with the system, tracks any manual changes to associated systems and manages reaction times for each event.

A key differential between this Big Data approach and other forms of physical security system integration is the ability for a single software platform to connect security, facility and risk management systems at a data level, rather than simply interfacing a limited number of products.

The goal of a Big Data analytics software tool is to provide a risk-based security intelligence platform that allows a stronger decision-making process and not simply to gather more data! To do this effectively the solution must be able to reflect a whole series of company-specific work rules and distil down vast amounts of data into meaningful security intelligence.

Considering Value Propositions Wrought by Big Data Mining

So in the context of security, how can this approach really help?

A true Big Data security platform is based around adding business value, and its ability to link into other business systems allows it to increase overall business performance. The potential impact to a business of a security breach could now be too far reaching to keep related data previously perceived as unimportant down at the operational level.

In-depth and specialized reporting used in conjunction with a robust work rules engine, using simple built-in tools, can easily generate a variety of instant notifications to alert any number of colleagues to an event. This allows the appropriate resources to be deployed to ensure speedy resolution.

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