Going Digital to Standardize Physical Security Across a Distributed Organization
Global insurance firm conducts security inventories and system design using the System Surveyor digital collaboration platform – saving time, travel, and resources
Customer: Major insurance company
Summary: A global provider of insurance solutions began a project to upgrade and standardize its security posture across nearly 70 offices in 20 countries. The Security Team needed a single pane of glass to manage worldwide security. This presented a challenge with disparate systems deployed worldwide and limited visibility into the security assets and layouts at each office. Then COVID-19 limited travel. Using the System Surveyor digital design platform, the Security Team has begun to remotely catalog and document installed devices and system layouts as well as create new system designs.
CHALLENGE: No Baseline for Making Improvements or Easy Way to Get There
The Security Team for this organization found it challenging to manage global security from the U.S. For example, the organization had different video surveillance and access control systems all over the world, and its visitor management system was not centralized. Then the pandemic magnified these weaknesses: The Security Team did not have the IP infrastructure to see every system and easily obtain reports and video footage.
While standardizing security had been a focus for the company, the pandemic convinced the executive team to move it up on the priority list. Starting in the U.S., the Security Team’s goals are to:
- Analyze the system layout at every site to determine what is installed and the as-is condition of each system
- Establish the requirements for retrofitting the sites
- Standardize on a short list of key security systems
- Narrow down the company’s vendors and system integrators to a select few
Limited Data on Security Assets and Layouts
In an ideal world, the Security Team would have access to up-to-date information for all sites. From this, they could develop a single scope of work before reaching out to vendors for a competitive bid. Yet step one proved to be a challenge: They lacked an accurate system layout and system device inventory for each location.
Through the years, numerous vendors had installed various types of systems across the world. With a distributed organization, it’s unrealistic to have a security engineer at every office. Vendors chosen at the local level would often make the choices without a system standard, with little focus on providing documentation and specifications.
Inconsistent, Traditional Approaches to System Design
One issue is the security industry’s traditional approach to system design. Site surveys are usually done with pencil, paper, and cell phone cameras. This process can be tedious, ad-hoc, and error-prone – and highly dependent on the skill of the person performing the survey. Then, back at the office, hours are spent reconciling everything, entering the information in a computer, and beginning the system design phase.
Without a standard methodology, personnel with varying levels of expertise end up gathering requirements differently. System integrators and other vendors could have separate processes, even within the same client organization. Mistakes and inconsistencies are common.
As projects advance, system design details become spread across a disjointed set of tools such as email, spreadsheets, estimation programs, databases, CAD, field service systems, and others. This makes it difficult to have an up-to-date design layout at all times. Organizations are sometimes lucky to get a paper floor plan from their integrators and other contractors.
Vendor diagrams and invoices can leave clues, but these documents can be hard to decipher – if they can be found. In this case, different naming conventions and symbols were applied to the local systems and devices. This further hindered the U.S. analysis.
To gather all this information, the Security Team would have to visit every site worldwide and manually conduct site surveys. They sought something better than traditional system design methods.
SOLUTION: System Surveyor Digital Design Platform
The security team found a digital solution in System Surveyor, a mobile, cloud-based documentation and system design platform. Using an iPad® or Android-based tablet, personnel can collect all system assets and requirements in one application, then sync to the cloud for centralized access. No longer constrained by conventional site survey and system design processes, users do not have to worry about outdated system records in static .pdfs or on paper.
A drag-and-drop interface lets even inexperienced users place system components on a “living” digital floor plan. Users can also upload or create floor plans, take and annotate photos, specify products (e.g., a specific camera model), produce a system layout, and more.
In addition, virtual teams can collaborate and share design plans with colleagues, system integrators, and other vendors and subcontractors. Whether in the field or the office, everyone can work together in one system of record throughout the entire lifecycle of a space – from requirement collection, bidding, and design to product selection, deployment and maintenance.
RESULTS: Faster, Simplified System Design via Remote
Now integrated with the Security Team’s processes, System Surveyor provides a standard site survey and system design methodology. In one system of record, the team is quickly and accurately documenting the company’s security resources, capturing existing layouts, and starting new system designs. This is being done without the need to travel: The technology has sped up the standardization process by enabling the team to do most everything remotely.
A Virtual Engineer at Every Site
Because System Surveyor is cloud-based and simple to use, the Security Team is working with field personnel to start or finish site surveys remotely. This ability to collaborate virtually – maximizing skill sets and reach across sites and regions – has been especially helpful since COVID-19’s onset limited company travel.
The team can start the site survey with a clean digital floor plan or by uploading an existing floor plan or Google Earth snapshot into the application. Then, they guide employees through the process of uploading photos and other details to System Surveyor. The Security Team then creates the designs and reviews them with each site’s business leaders and key stakeholders to obtain approval to make the changes.
Advanced Planning for Deployments
While COVID-19 had delayed installation of system upgrades, System Surveyor is giving the Security Team a head start. With a security standard and design plans in hand, they can obtain the funding, get the parts in, and have everything ready to execute. After the designs are completed and approved, the details are incorporated into the scope of a Request for Proposal (RFP) so numerous vendors can competitively quote each project.
In addition, the team can give third parties access to System Surveyor. Working from one design layout and set of information, contractors can provide bids and be ready to begin the job – often without visiting the site. Once installation begins, contractors can update System Surveyor with project status and photos for instant access.
Using System Surveyor’s remote collaboration capabilities, the team has started some international site surveys working with local employees. They have also enlisted help from U.S. employees travelling internationally to help document security and IT assets.
Doing this work manually would be slow, expensive, and nearly impossible with the travel restrictions caused by COVID-19. System Surveyor is enabling the Security Team to bridge distances across the U.S. and the world.