Reassessing Physical Security Maintenance

by John Gallagher | Jul 11, 2016 6:40:04 PM

Over the last couple years I have seen many examples of physical security systems that don’t work as they should; either they have significant downtime (30% downtime or more), or they have intermittent “ghost in the machine” sort of problems that are too hard to fix easily, or other issues that lead to video not recording or card readers not reading.  As it has been covered in other blogs here at Viakoo I won’t labor the point, but for mission-critical security technology it can be shocking to see how often it fails, and how long it takes to recover from such failures.  In a survey Viakoo conducted last year, when a video surveillance failure happens it typically takes days to fix (days, not minutes or hours like it should be).

The good news is action is being taken by the physical security industry to reassess how maintenance is performed, by whom, and for what cost.  Specifically, I’m seeing a shift happening from blanket maintenance contracts to Time and Material (T&M) based agreements.  In some organizations T&M is replacing blanket agreements, while in others it is evolving as a mix of internal resources acting as the blanket, with T&M based specialists added in as needed.  While a blanket service agreement is the right approach for many organizations (and will remain so), more physical security teams are revisiting how well it is working for them and in some cases are moving away from it.

This shift makes sense for a number of reasons beyond reducing downtime.  Large organizations are moving to T&M based maintenance for other benefits including:

  1. More ownership of your risks: ultimately the organization, not the security integrator, owns the risks that come with physical security lapses.  T&M agreements ensure the organization is aware of the scale and scope of problems.
  2. Other parts of organization benefit: with how interconnected and interdependent many systems are, failures in physical security can point to issues in the overall IT infrastructure or other parts of the operation.  Keeping physical security maintenance firewalled off from other parts of the company can hamper critical knowledge being transferred.
  3. Keeps everyone honest: a truly hands-off approach to physical security maintenance makes it hard to know what is being done and the value to the organization.  Moving to a mix of T&M ensures the ability to understand the true costs and efforts involved.
  4. It reduces costs: Viakoo customers report that a main driver of shifting to T&M is controlling and reducing overall maintenance costs.  Every organization is different, and mileage may vary, but saving cost and improving physical security uptime can go hand-in-hand.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach here, and as stated above many organizations will remain best served through a blanket agreement.  Tyco Integrated Security has a great blog on the value of service contracts that you can find here:

As you look at how you maintain and manage physical security Viakoo is here to help; our technology provides service assurance for physical security.  I’d encourage you to check out our FreeMonitor service, which for free tells you when your physical security network is having problems, including what the problem is.  Our paid solutions provide more detailed analysis and capability, and are designed to scale along with your operation and help you work efficiently with your maintenance team regardless of whether they are internal or external.  The bottom line being that with the right information, at the right time, with the right people, there is no reason for physical security to have significant downtime or outages.  Let us know if we can help you achieve that in your business.

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