Deliver Deeper Dive Into Access Data

Installing security contractors can provide end users greater value by yielding deeper access control data.

By Dave Bhattacharjee

Access control systems, and the data they generate, can be leveraged far beyond their current deployment of allowing or limiting entrance to specified areas of a building. Much more can be done with access control data if we parse out additional attributes such as employee and building security, and, by combining access control data with other data streams, we can provide unique business and operational insights. In fact, organizations’ access control systems can be used not only to improve security, but to reduce cost of operations, improve safety and improve business relevance. Let’s take a brief look at five ways your installed access control systems can deliver more bang for your customer’s buck.

Reducing the Information Overload: During any busy period, an access control system can detect large numbers of events, sometimes at the rate of a million a month, often leaving system administrators overwhelmed by the volume of alarms triggered and the amount of information coming in. Because of information overload, operators might possibly overlook important signals. One solution to reduce excess “noise” and pinpoint potential problem areas is to add a set of filters on historical or retroactive data. For example, operators can review the access control data for line and communication errors to detect readers that may be malfunctioning. By leveraging this data to detect the source of the noise, both the integrator and customer benefit by increasing efficiency, accuracy and improved system operation.

Improving Situational Awareness as Video Verification: Combining video with access control data can significantly improve situational awareness. Consider this scenario: a recent review of an organization’s data log showed that attempted access to a door was denied. Within several minutes of this first attempt, doors nearby were forced open. The assumption was made that an employee’s access card did not work, so a key was used instead to get into the area. There is a high probability that those were legitimate alarms, which should always be investigated and – if there was video – that footage would be used to verify the alarms.

Enlisting Designated Sensitive Areas: Spatial context can be added to access control data by introducing the concept of zones, a designated set of panels and readers that require special attention. Often, some areas within a corporate campus, for example, have higher security requirements for various doors designated as “sensitive areas.” In these situations, analytics software can be configured to flag intrusion attempts in such vicinities. Organizations can glean valuable information based on patterns related to these specific access areas.

Sometimes, employees will have multiple access denials within a short time period, indicating a potential problem with the employee’s access card or system setup. Other times, access attempts at odd hours [could be] a sign of an insider threat.

Revealing Employee Behavior & Building Security: Data from access control systems can be parsed to pull out employee information, enabling customers to draw extensive insights into employee behavior. For example, alarms associated with employees can be visualized separately, which, when analyzed, show any number of patterns linked with their activity. Sometimes, employees will have multiple access denials within a short time period, indicating a potential problem with the employee’s access card or system setup. Other times, access attempts at odd hours of the day or night, or when an employee is not scheduled to work, could be anomalous behavior and a sign of an insider threat. The analytics may help an organization thwart a potential breach before it happens.

Likewise, data from access control systems can be used to collect security information for professional or commercial buildings. Tools, such as online dashboards, display a variety of unique statistics, including the average number of individual employees that enter a building per day. The frequency of how often an employee enters a building, as well as the circumstances in which the building is used can be documented. Various applications are in place for these types of statistics such as mustering reports (providing helpful real-time knowledge of which employees are located where) and office footprint planning.

Creating a Better Risk Profile: Many intriguing opportunities are possible for risk assessment by combining access control data with additional data sets. One example is to create an overall Building Risk Score by adding area crime data and the amount of sensitive locations within a building with the alarm data from the access control system. By combining this data, an algorithm can be developed to rank and score each building, providing the security personnel with a proactive view. The high-risk buildings can be reviewed to ensure that they have adequate staff levels or to understand if offices should be moved to a separate location.

Access control data when combined with other data sets can produce a vital and comprehensive view into not just alarms, but employee behavior and building security. It can also serve as an important tool for risk profiling enabling security professionals to take a proactive stance. Savvy integrators stand to capitalize by presenting the bigger picture of today’s access control solutions to customers seeking to enhance their overall security operations and may not be aware of all the opportunities potentially at their disposal.

Dave Bhattacharjee is Vice President, Data Analytics, for Stanley Security. Reach him at [email protected]

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