Anthony J Tesar*
Personnel choice...

The last two articles on security manpower focused on the internal and external personnel who make up the bulk of an organisation’s physical security requirements.  In addition to these resources, a specialist team of operators are usually required to monitor, record, log and manage the electronic security systems that include CCTV, Access Control, Intruder Detection, Fire Alarm and Suppression systems.

Given the importance and the round the clock nature of these activities, it never ceases to surprise me how little attention is given to this essential element within an organisation’s security structure.

Another critical factor is the location that these operators work from, (for the sake of clarity, we shall call it the Central Monitoring Station (CMS)). The CMS will usually incorporate all of the feeds from the CCTV systems and dependent upon the organisations size, this could be from local, regional, country or even international fitted cameras. They will also be the focal point and receiving station for any alarm generated through the access control or intruder detections systems. Most Fire Alarm panels are also located in these CMS rooms, as are the BMS (Building Management System) and other security, safety and building management systems.

We often find that despite their important responsibilities and the sheer number of systems they are expected to manage, qualifications and capabilities of operators are often not much more than those of the security guard located at the front door! Serious consideration needs to be made regarding the ability, schooling levels and experience of those being contracted to manage and operate these systems.

The analytical features in the electronic systems software should be programmed so that the operators can be drawn to particular issues or events. Monitoring and managing up to 1000+ cameras plus a variety of alarms is no easy task. Factors to consider are the type/size/number/position of the monitors, the design and layout of the CMS, positioning of the system panels and desktop monitors to ensure that money and resources spent on these systems are maximised.

One last factor to consider when selecting those who will operate the CMS is the choice between using contractors or directly hiring specialist personnel. Due to the sensitivity of some of the areas being monitored, as well as the accessibility to the software and its operating system, you may need to carefully consider just who has access to this function. You may also want to keep the company that is providing the CMS personnel and the manned guarding personnel separate…and so prevent the guards from monitoring themselves!

The next article will start to look at bringing all the various electronic security systems and physical manpower resources together as part of a Security and Safety Manual. This document is intended to provide the focal point and hub that enables all these disparate systems to come together

*Anthony J Tesar / CEO / Le Beck International /

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