Learning to embrace open platforms – SureView

January 10, 2023


The definition of an ‘open platform’ is one that allows a third-party to integrate with its software system, as SureView explains.

To understand why an Open platform is necessary, first, it’s important to understand why integration has become a crucial component for organisations dealing with today’s growing security challenges.

For many organisations, the pace of change continues to accelerate. This has profound impacts: they are responsible for protecting more locations, assets, and people while using an ever-expanding list of systems and devices. To make it even more challenging, the systems and devices they rely on to monitor these assets were often installed by different teams at different times.

Just think about the proliferation of new security devices and systems in the last five years: security teams are now monitoring gunshot detection devices, video analytic alarms, responding to business risk alerts, tracking travellers, updating IT ticket systems, monitoring health and safety concerns, and so on.

When an incident occurs, security response teams are often left with an inconsistent and disjointed process that involves jumping back and forth between one system and another, trying to piece together what happened.

It can be time-consuming, is prone to human error, and rarely delivers the security goals of the organisation.

Not only that, managers trying to make data-driven decisions find it increasingly difficult to get a consistent picture of their operation because they’re accessing data across multiple, siloed, systems. All of these systems are generating separate and vast amounts of information. Without a standardised data set, how can they possibly see the forest for the trees?

So how do Security Operations Centres remain effective when change is accelerating?
Security executives tell us that before anything else, they need the flexibility to choose and integrate the best systems for their unique needs. Each system has a unique function that is critical to improving security outcomes, but on its own, it provides only part of the puzzle that operations teams need. What does this mean in the real world?

The Open Response Platform to the Rescue
An Open Response Platform addresses these challenges by providing security operations teams a single-pane-of-glass for coordinating their response to events, one that seamlessly integrates with their own, unique, array of security and business systems—regardless of the manufacturer, the format of the data, when it was installed, where it’s located, or how it’s transmitted.

The benefits of this approach are improved safety and security. By standardising the process in your Control Room(s), teams are able to respond faster – improving security outcomes. It will lead to reduced costs. By improving the efficiency of security operations activities, teams can do more with less.

There is flexibility to select the best-of-breed. An open approach provides the flexibility for organisations to select the best solutions to their unique needs and the buying power they need to reduce costs as well as make data-driven decisions.

At SureView, we believe for any security operations to succeed, they need to select an open response platform that can easily integrate with the systems they use today along with the flexibility to support future devices and choose manufacturers that are open and allow for integration through either common protocols or a fully published API.

Step one – Checklist for choosing an Open Security Operations Platform
So, what should you look for when evaluating an open security operations platform? Our customers have consistently told us they need software that simplifies, standardises, integrates, and scales their growing activities. To deliver these goals we developed a SaaS version of our suite of security software, one that speeds deployment times and makes it easier for customers to get up and running quickly.

There are six characteristics that we think are the most important when considering Security Operations software for your organisation:

  1. Deliver software as a service (SaaS) – it eliminates many of the roadblocks that plague large software projects. There is no need for expensive on-premise servers to purchase and maintain. There are no long lead times waiting for IT teams to deploy and configure complex network projects. There is no large capital expenditure to plan, promote, and capture multi-level approvals because now, most SaaS platforms can be purchased via an opex budget.
  2. A standard response interface for coordinating the action for any type of event perations teams need a single, consistent interface for coordinating the response of different types of alarms and events across the organisation. It provvides all the key information required for quick response – i.e. floor plans and maps of the location, step-by-step action plans to guide teams through response, interactive call lists, the capability to dispatch field staff, an instant view of nearby cameras for immediate situational awareness, and so on.
  3. A place to organise workflows – Create simple workflows when event X happens at location; Create custom action plans based on different functions i.e. create a specific action plan for a lift entrapment, medical event, DFO, person seen, etc.; automate steps throughout the process to increase the efficiency of your Control Room(s).
  4. Simplify integration – leveraging universal plugins that support standard protocols – support for industry-standard protocols for alarms, video streaming, audio, data exchange; each simplifies onboarding and reduces maintenance costs.
  5. Open API to integrate with other systems – Provides a published API that allows the flexibility to integrate with all security systems, back office processes, and business communication tools.
  6. A centralised database for Data-Driven Decision-Making (DDDM) – It provides a baseline to measure operational actions and response across the entire security operation, effectively eliminating the difference between one system and another. Previously siloed information is brought together into one centralised data warehouse, eliminating the complexity of standardising different data sets from multiple, disparate systems. It accesses common operational reports and dashboards; reates custom dashboards using data visualisation tools in order to see an entire view of a security operation rather than siloed systems; presents data in different formats. Sometimes a graph is the best way to see data, on other occasions it could be a table. The team can choose. It has the ability to drill into data elements by clicking on data objects in a graph to delve deeper into the cause of that metric; supports forecasting, highlighting trends in a data set so that action can be taken quickly. It easily exports into standard formats, ie. look for exports of raw data in .csv, Excel, or JSON formats

Step two – How to establish if a manufacturer is offering an open system
Traditionally security integration has meant connecting hardware. However, in today’s world integration is almost always between two or more software platforms. In order to be “Open” it requires these manufacturers to support either common industry protocols for exchanging data or by providing a published API (Application Programming Interface)—which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Let’s look more closely at both:

Support for common industry protocols: As the security industry has evolved, and more systems have moved to utilise cloud technology, the adoption of common standards has greatly increased. Today you will find support for these common protocols in almost all modern security platforms. By leveraging these common protocols, security technology teams do not need to embark on complex development projects to connect software systems, they simply need to configure their existing systems to stream or send alerts using these supported protocols.
At SureView, we support some of the most common security and IT protocols to stream live cameras, receive alarms and view alarm clips.

Device-specific integration for large deployments
Integrations that are developed for a specific device or system utilise the published API of the manufacturer to develop the integration between two systems.
The benefit of these types of integrations is that they provide the ability to access a richer set of functions. At SureView, we have found that syncing data between two systems is one of the most powerful features of these types of integrations. This is especially important in large organisations where there is constant change—new builds and upgrades mean that cameras, doors, and security devices are constantly being added or changed. Managing these changes is time-consuming and can be fraught with human error. Automating these processes through integration delivers a huge number of operational benefits.

Your team are not programmers so what should you look for when bringing on a new technology into your operation to ensure it’s Open?

Here are a few ways to tell if a manufacturer offers ‘open’ systems:

● Do they promote integrations with other systems on their website? If so, they’re likely open
● Do they offer a SaaS? If they do, this is a very good indicator that they use a modern API
● Ask if they can send you a link to their API documentation. If they are an open manufacturer they will typically have this available online or can share the documentation with you. You don’t need to understand what they send you, just the fact that they have it and provide it is a really good sign.
● Is extra licensing required to utilise the manufacturer’s API? It’s always important to understand if there are any upfront costs when integrating systems
● Are there additional requirements needed to support integration? Sometimes an additional component is needed.

Embracing security solutions that are open and provide support for interoperability, delivers the flexibility that today’s security leaders need in order to adapt to the rapid pace of change and build robust and scalable operations. Now security managers can deliver improved safety and security as well as reduce costs for their organisation.

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