Page 36 - Security Today, January/February 2021
P. 36

A Quality of Life Municipalities improve networks with physical security systems
By Bob Carter
When the number of people working from home rap- idly increased in the spring of 2020, organizations everywhere had to adapt quickly. Municipalities were no exception. Where many had previously resisted the idea of teleworking, the appearance of the COVID-19 virus gave them no choice. All at once, their networks extended beyond city buildings into people’s homes and onto their laptops.
As a result of the new distributed work- force, the need to secure networks against cyber threats has become more urgent. Suddenly, municipalities have to balance maintaining the security of their informa- tion with enabling people to work from home. Mitigating the threat of cyberat- tacks is more pressing than ever.
Hardening a network to ensure data pri- vacy and security involves a variety of strat- egies, including data encryption and access authentication and authorization. For mu- nicipalities, one cost-effective method for pro- tecting the integrity of their data is switching to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.
What municipalities are discovering is that shifting to SaaS solutions eliminates the need to make significant upfront capital investments. These solutions also eliminate the need to continuously ensure that soft- ware is up to date with the latest version be- cause, with service-based solutions, it’s the vendor who is responsible for keeping their solutions up to date.
SaaS solutions are ideal for a distribut- ed workforce since individual access to the software is cloud-based. This means that a municipality doesn’t have to invest in addi- tional hardware to manage the transition. These solutions also shift the responsibil- ity to the vendor for implementing privacy protection and ensuring data integrity.
OF SERVICE-BASED SOLUTIONS Beyond helping harden their networks, mu- nicipalities are also benefiting from other advantages that come from using SaaS so-
lutions. For instance, these service-based options give a municipality greater control over the long term. They have more leverage when signing a contract, and then, if they aren’t satisfied with a service, they can stop paying without losing an initial investment.
From a vendor’s perspective, this shift also encourages better customer engage- ment. It is only by interacting with stake- holders in a municipality that vendors can understand their challenges and require- ments. For many, it comes down to the abil- ity to develop relationships built on open and transparent communication.
Recently, Genetec worked with the Wash- ington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Depart- ment (MPD) to help improve its video request process. The MPD has its own physical security network, which includes video surveillance cameras that are moni- toring everything from parks to intersec- tions. Managing all that video can be a challenge. But responding to requests for video can be overwhelming.
Like most cities, video is an important component of how Washington, D.C. op- erates. In addition to its extensive video camera network, MPD can also draw on other video sources, including private busi- nesses and personal cellphones, when con-
ducting an investigation.
For the nation’s capital, however, video
management is even more challenging be- cause 57 other law enforcement agencies are operating in the area. Several of these entities are related to the government. While most police departments only have to share video footage within a municipal- ity, the MPD also has to provide access to many of these other agencies. This means that the MPD can be quite literally inun- dated with information requests.
To address this challenge, you have to shift your mindset to the perspective of the indi- viduals managing the system. You have to consider how the requests come in, where the video footage is stored, how it’s ac- cessed, and how to share it in the safest, most efficient way possible.
In Washington, D.C., video requests were handled using a very manual process using a request form (paper). Once a request form was submitted, MPD staff had to find the video footage and copy it to a thumb drive or DVD. After picking up the disk or DVD from the MPD, the requestor then had to install a video player and watch the footage to determine if it was, in fact, the video evidence that they were looking for.
Now, using the MPD’s cloud-based

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