Success is built on making the right connections

Scott Dunn

In 1624 the poet John Donne shared his world view that “no man is an island.” Looking through this lens 400 years later, we’ve come to acknowledge how important connections are to our success. In the security arena, this translates into collaborating with fellow practitioners, technology vendors, law enforcement and sometimes even city officials who can provide insightful perspectives and guidance as we try to figure out what solutions best satisfy our needs.

It’s not only a matter of connecting with the right products and people to address the challenges we face but also about building partnerships and networking with experts to help us look at security in new ways and create even smarter business solutions.

Let’s look at some of the connections that you might find useful in helping you frame your security initiatives or solve a particular problem. I present them here in no particular order.

Connect with industry experts

There are many research centers and professional industry organizations focused on safety and security that can help you address complicated security scenarios. Three such organizations that I’m very familiar with, and thus recommend, include: The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4), Security Industry Association (SIA) and ASIS International. (I served on the advisory council of NCS4, and I’m on the Board of Directors for SIA.)

All three organizations are really great resources for practitioners, integrators and technology providers. Furthermore, I’ve attended multiple ASIS International expositions and found them highly informative about the current state of the security industry.

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4)
NCS4 is a research center out of the University of Southern Mississippi that works with federal agencies and sports organizations to bring experts together to discuss lessons and explore best practices, technology solutions, strategies, training and certification for sports safety and security challenges. It conducts thought-leader summits and annual forums, and it employs research-based methodologies to develop quality training programs and exercises, workforce competencies, industry best practices and professional development courses. NCS4 staff has experience on a number of fronts from emergency management and incident response to innovative research, testing and validation of technology solutions in safety and security.

Security Industry Association (SIA)
SIA is a leading trade organization for global security solution providers. It provides support for and protects its members’ interests by advocating for policies and legislation at the state and federal levels that are in the best interest of the industry. In addition, SIA offers professional and technical education and certifications, promotes industry standards and advocates for pro-security policies and legislation. It also provides its members with research and analysis of industry trends.

ASIS International
ASIS International is a global community of security practitioners. It offers a range of learning opportunities for professional development from classroom programs and webinars to publications, expositions and conferences.

I would also recommend reaching out to your peers. Contact organizations you know that have implemented security solutions similar to the one you hope to deploy. Ask them to share their real-world experience with you, as well as the ups and the downs. Talk to them about the methods they used to solve their problems. Learning from their failures and successes might help you avoid similar mistakes and capitalize on approaches already proven to work well.

While peers and industry association advisors can help you investigate options and weigh strategies for better protecting your assets and people, ultimately it’s your technology partners who will help you translate those ideas into a concrete solution.

Professional making connections by showing surveillance camera
Collaborate with vendors and partners to identify and integrate the best network surveillance technologies for your organization’s security needs.

Connect with technology partners

As you investigate potential technology partners, I recommend looking for vendors who are solutions-oriented rather than focused on simply selling product. Security isn’t a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all business. Work with partners who can collaborate with you to devise a comprehensive, cohesive integration of technologies that uniquely address your specific challenges and needs.

What else should you look for in ideal technology partners?

Interoperability 
Most security solutions today are comprised of best of breed components. For them to work seamlessly together, they need to be built on an open-platform. So when looking for a technology vendor, considering partnering with companies whose innovative ideas and future-proof systems are standards-based and therefore interoperable with a wide range of products. This will give you the most flexibility in designing and executing your unique solution.

Service and support
When you get right down to it, relationships aren’t about companies. They’re about people. You want to connect with a vendor whose culture reflects your organization’s values. It’s also important that you partner with a vendor who’s in the relationship for the long haul and won’t disappear once the sale is complete. For your solution to succeed, you need people who are responsive to your needs pre- and post-installation. That could mean everything from helping design wiring schematics to automating system updates and providing training for your personnel on a host of security matters.

In addition to connecting with the right technology partners, there’s another important connection you should make, and that’s with law enforcement and legislators.

Connect with law enforcement and city officials

There are a number of advantages to developing a close working partnership with local law enforcement. Not only can they help you assess the vulnerable areas of your facility, but they can give you advanced warning of problematic issues on their radar such as recent hack attacks, known felons and theft rings in the vicinity, etc. so you can prepare a timely defense. They can help you conduct readiness drills and advise you on training programs to increase the skills and professionalism of your security staff.

When you add city officials into the relationship, you’ve put yourself in a prime position to influence the crafting of laws and ordinances that can protect your vulnerable locations. I have a colleague, the head of security for a professional baseball club, who can attest to the value of that connection. He had great drone detection technology at his stadium, but he didn’t have authority to do anything if someone flew a drone over the field or stands. He went to the local police for advice and was told they didn’t have the authority either. So he sat down with the police chief and key city officials to draft new legislation to address the problem. The new city ordinance now allows club security to confiscate the drone and file a complaint against the offender with police.

Speaking of ordinances, another thing you need to check when building your security solution is that it complies with local, state and federal laws, particularly those governing privacy and the right to record video and audio. Sometimes it’s sufficient to simply post signs around the property indicating it’s under surveillance. In other instances, more proactive measures might need to be taken.

Be vision driven

Making the right connections can help you envision your ideal security solution. But oftentimes it’s not realistic to expect you can build it all in one shot. So it’s important to understand your priorities, your greatest vulnerabilities, and work out from there choosing the people, processes and technologies that can help you best mitigate those risks.

Franklin Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” calls it developing an outcome-oriented mindset. You should have a vision of what you ultimately want to accomplish. Then build toward that systematically. Think of it as a long term plan with short term milestones. Making the right connections assures you succeed in getting there.