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How to beat the terrorists… with tablets and apps

by Mark Scott

July 9 2013

Mark Scott is the CEO of Northern Pixels and an expert on mobilizing business processes.


Tablets and apps can help the Facility Security Officer, says Mark Scott, CEO of Northern Pixels

The recent Boston terrorist attack once again demonstrates that with the tragic loss of life and terrible injuries, comes an extraordinary impact – with a ripple effect on businesses beyond the blast zone.

The Facility Security Officer (FSO) of any large business understands the magnitude of these challenges – and that the best solution is prevention.

The foremost FSO team challenge is employee security and safety. But these professionals also know the collective impact that a breach in security can have on a business; loss of revenue, severe brand repercussions and perilous drops in market value.

The FSO is always looking to stay one step ahead of the threat, and now he/she is paired with a new ally, the CIO, to help avert tragedy.

What’s changed?

While the FSO can have monitoring electronics and cameras strategically placed throughout a facility, these aids are typically fixed in place, unable to account for countless security variables.

Fortunately, today’s tablets and smartphones are mobile handheld intelligence dream machines. The rapid evolution of mobile device technology has armed the mobile user with a powerful monitoring and security platform to capture and communicate detailed data.

  • Images

  • Video

  • Detailed and descriptive voice annotations (that can be auto-converted to text)

  • GPS and time stamps

Tablet and smartphone Apps such as Presence by People Power turn mobile devices into real-time video and audio streaming monitors.

All of this data can be connected to the enterprise security analytics system. Moreover, since tablets and smartphones are easy to use and are cost efficient for deployment, familiarity means low maintenance and training costs.

Three ways the CIO can help the FSO use tablets to improve security

Tablets aren’t simply for checking email or browsing the Web anymore. The CIO’s buy-in is critical to help devise top notch facility security policies and protocols. Here are three ways in which the FSO can benefit directly by working with the CIO:

  • The CIO can help the FSO carve out mobile technology compliance with security procedures and policy that the security personnel must then follow

  • With the help of the CIO’s team, security administrators can define and modify protocols remotely and deploy orders or other information at the touch of a button. As such, new protocol doesn’t need to wait to seep into the field, it happens in real time

  • The FSO can also measure security personnel compliance, identify gaps and react more swiftly to employee challenges with CIO-led monitoring tools

It’s about data quality AND quantity

Part of safeguarding any facility is the ability to collect and analyze data as quickly as possible.

Thus, manual data collection and subsequent repeat entry is not only laborious and slow, but it’s also potentially dangerous as well, leading to human error. Moreover, while simple electronic text has its uses, it tells a limited dimension story. Hence the emergence of mobile form apps like ProntoForms, which collects data in the field and instantly connects it with back office systems, cloud services and other destinations.

Taking advantage of mobile technology, the FSO must look at adding layers of intelligence to company security protocols, as it can exponentially raise the value of key available data. Acquiring information in the form of GPS, images, video, signatures, and other elements, permits the FSO to make more informed decisions.

Speed – from the field and to the boardroom

When it comes to facility security, speed of information is everything. The powerful mobile technology of today has businesses in a perennial push to acquire any and all information in as real time as possible.

Who knows, maybe one day the boss will actually get his info yesterday.

Arguably, no member of the enterprise needs this real-time data more than the FSO team.

If responding to a challenge before it becomes a crisis is the goal, then it only makes sense to utilize tablets and smartphones as a means to meet these challenges.

Mobile devices harness the speed of reporting necessary to give the FSO the best opportunity to avert a crisis.

Data and analytics

So we’ve established that the CIO and FSO have to work together, and that mobile devices like tablets are a key frontline tool to avoid any type of security breach.

But when it comes to all of the instant data being wirelessly collected and submitted, especially in larger organizations, it’s a worthwhile decision to also include big data analytics into the process.

Big data analytic platforms can quickly turn data into actionable information that can identify risk trends more quickly, leading to a more proactive approach, rather than reactive.

High level analytics helps to drill down and uncover hidden nuggets of information that simple spreadsheet number-crunching can’t. There are a variety of big data solutions to consider, including Birst, named the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant Challenger. Birst is a cloud based BI system that organizes, segments and analyzes high volumes of data – including mobile data related to facility security.

Interestingly, as companies spend more in the area of big data analytics, many are able to more than recoup these added expenditures by the information that is uncovered, including the discovery of mismanaged resources.

Conclusion

There is simply too much at risk for enterprises to take anything but a critical and thoughtful approach to security measures.

The sheer convenience and ease of use of employing mobile devices for security can greatly improve risk mitigation efforts.

As the way in which the world conducts and protects business continues to evolve, enterprises must adapt accordingly. Safeguarding both company employees and assets is paramount to merely maintaining the work environment status quo – and to ensuring that employees feel adequately secure in order to do their job.

Nevertheless, many budget-conscious firms will debate the merits of added security measures. But is this something that you really want to debate? 

Mark Scott is the CEO of Northern Pixels and an expert on mobilizing business processes.

Are you a tablet industry professional, tablet app publisher, or just a visionary with a strong opinion about tablets? We would like you to contribute a vendor-agnostic analysis piece to our Opinions section. Please contact Michael Singer, Business editor.

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