Maintaining Security When Power Fails

With security systems now running on enterprise network backbones, power protection is becoming critical for both integrators and end users. Helping clients develop solid power backup and disaster preparedness plans deepens the customer relationship and brings additional revenue opportunities.

In today’s business world, companies have become completely reliant on the availability of electrical power. Businesses cannot function without computers, servers, telephone systems, security systems and all of the peripheral devices that support them. All of the devices have one thing in common — they require clean electrical power to operate.

Because electrical power and business operations are so tightly interwoven, power problems cut directly into a company’s ability to keep its mission-critical systems fully functional. Failure of this infrastructure can create operational and financial havoc, not to mention major security issues.

The Infrastructure Is Vulnerable

Power failures happen in a variety of ways, ranging from the travails that Mother Nature can bring to bear, to unexpected construction accidents brought on by careless workers. On top of that, rolling brownouts or blackouts strike various parts of the country during high peak demand cycles. No matter the cause of a power failure, businesses must be ready when disaster strikes. It truly is not a question of if a power failure occurs; it’s merely a question of when.

Power protection solutions have been around for several decades now, ranging from small, inexpensive surge suppressors to giant uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) designed to support an entire facility. The reason these protection devices were designed is that electricity supplied by power plants is not totally reliable in terms of quality and availability.

Here in the United   States we are accustomed to having decent power quality, yet our power delivery infrastructure can be worrisome. Consider that most of the nation’s infrastructure was installed 40 to 50 years ago. A recent article on CNN’s Web site echoed these concerns, stating that power problems cost businesses and consumers more than $119 billion annually. Other estimates have placed those costs even higher.

Let’s go beyond the cost and inconveniences business infrastructure failures can bring and think about liability and safety issues. Security systems are installed to make sure assets, employees and customers are protected, but when power goes out and security systems fail bad things can happen quickly. Security cameras go down. DVRs are no longer recording. Access control systems can be rendered inoperable. When these things happen, businesses are putting their customers and employees at risk.

Protection Is Typically Assumed

When a customer enters a store, it is the responsibility of the storeowner to provide adequate protection for the shopper. When a student or teacher enters an educational institution, the assumption is the student and faculty are protected. When an employee goes to work every day, the employer has an obligation to provide a secure work environment. When a constituent enters a government office, safety and security is presumed.

All of these institutions are exposed to liability if a security-related incident occurs and when the security system goes down, the exposure and liability is magnified. Security dealers and installers that do not make power protection an integral part of an installation are doing their customers a tremendous disservice. After all, a customer is dependant on the dealer to recommend and install a comprehensive solution that meets their needs, fits their budget and provides them with comprehensive protection.

Some dealers have made it a point to not sell a security system without adequate power protection. This not only protects the customer from possible liability and safety issues, it also protects the dealer from having a very unhappy customer and being dragged into litigation.

Overcoming Customer Objections

When a dealer encounters push-back from a customer regarding power protection, there are several strong arguments that can be used to convince a customer that a UPS is an absolute necessity. Here are a few objections and responses:

OBJECTION: UPSs are too expensive.

RESPONSE: UPS pricing is at an all-time low, and the cost of not having a UPS when a problem occurs far exceeds the expense. In addition, it’s more expensive to replace damaged equipment than to buy UPSs. The cost of power protection can easily provide a positive return on investment (ROI) during the first power outage.

OBJECTION: My power is good 99 percent of the time.

RESPONSE: That 1 percent represents three days, 15 hours and 36 minutes during the year. Also, one never knows when a power problem will occur, and if Murphy’s Law comes into play, outages will occur at the most inopportune times.

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