Founder of Unified Security Ltd and Co-Vice Chair Smart Buildings Group, IoTSF., Unified Security Ltd

Author Bio ▼

James Willison MA, is a recognised International leader in Security Convergence and Enterprise Security Risk Management. In 2019 IFSEC Global listed James #13 in the top 20 Security Thought Leaders across the world. Shortlisted in Security Serious Unsung Security Heroes Awards 2018, as a Security Leader/mentor. James is Co Chair, Smart Buildings Working Group, Internet of Things Security Foundation and a member of the ASIS International ESRM Steering Committee. He is founder of Unified Security Ltd, a Vidsys consultant, works with AXIS Communications on cyber security and advises on the IFSEC Converged Security Centre. James was awarded the Imbert Prize for an ‘outstanding contribution to the Security Industry in 2011’ for his work on convergence with ASIS Europe and the Information Security Awareness Forum. He has more than 20 years of management experience in the physical and information security industry, including posts as Advisor on Convergence to the Mitie TSM Board, Senior lecturer in Security Management at Loughborough University and Digital Security Expert with the European Union. He has co-authored three White Papers and a series of new articles with Sarb Sembhi, sponsored by AXIS Communications, on ESRM, GDPR and Smart Buildings and Cities’ Security.
July 27, 2020

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The Video Surveillance Report 2020

Security and the pandemic – Utilising people and technology to improve resilience

James Willison, founder of Unified Security Ltd., explores how people and technology, such as that found in converged security platforms, can help the security sector in becoming more resilient in pandemics.

As I sit here, surveying the world’s scene and facing the pandemic, I ask, what can people and technology do to help us? I am fortunate to have many good friends and experienced security risk professionals to talk with and learn from.

We have considerable strength in our communities to call on. People have and always must come first in all things. The love and support this brings is foundational. Without this we will be unable to be stable, effective or mature. The collected wisdom we have is amazing and so we must celebrate this. Hence, the phone calls, social media posts, online meetings and webinars provide that vital support for us to grow in wisdom and also understand risks.

So, what can technology do to help us be more resilient through the ongoing pandemic and recovery effort?

I have had the great privilege of working with two of the world’s security technology leaders, AXIS Communications and Vidsys. These two companies complement one another, and while there are others which offer similar solutions, these two organisations are at the top of the tree when it comes to maturity and high levels of IT capability, in my opinion.

These aspects are of great importance when ensuring that your organisation is resilient against cyber-physical attacks in the longer term. I have been especially impressed by the AXIS audio/visual solution which enables medical staff to remotely monitor patients in the healthcare sector in real time.

Audio Security-Axis-ChileStudy-20Steven Kenny, Industry Liaison Manager – Architecture & Engineering, AXIS Communications, writes: “We have seen sites deploy our people counting application and occupancy analytics to support with the number of people being allowed into sites at any one time. This information can either be relayed back to a security operative to allow access or to a ‘traffic light’ style system.

“At the same time, this offering has been backed up with an IP speaker with a built in PIR that has a pre-recorded clip regarding GOV guidance around social distancing. When the audio device identifies a person in the defined zone it plays the audio clip.

“With all audio applications, this seems to be a lot less confrontational when compared to a member of staff telling people that they have done something wrong. This is a quick and easy way to develop a cause and effect strategy between the security platform, analytics and an automated audio output.”


Find out more about how integrated IP audio solutions can improve the security of your business


Increasingly, technologies which measure temperature, social distancing, face mask usage, location and tracking are being developed to help organisations understand the threat of the virus in its environment. These may run in parallel with existing physical security systems and mean that the security control room just got a lot busier!

Now, in addition to CCTV, access control, intrusion detection, fire and Building Management Systems (BMS), the team might also have temperature controls, heat maps, social distancing measures, social media feeds, geo fenced areas, tracking apps and increased alerts to manage. With only one, or even two people in the control room, this is a lot to manage efficiently.

When you think about adding cyber-attacks into the mix, it would be simply too complex for these individuals.

But, with the evident increase in cyber-attacks on the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and a preference for exploiting vulnerable systems, such as IP video and access control/BMS, there is an increased need for tools that pull this data together into one platform. Systems that can prioritise alerts and indicate an appropriate response that is in line with company policy and procedure are greatly beneficial.

This is what a Converged Security and Information Management (CSIM) platform does. Over the last 15 years, Vidsys has developed a comprehensive CSIM platform to help control room personnel make sense of all the noise and respond in real-time to attacks wherever they originate.

How can we maintain security while working remotely?

Whilst it is important to manage the health risk on-site, it is also vital to manage security risks to staff who are working remotely. It is more difficult both to secure a home environment and to identify if a company’s ability to be certain its staff are authenticating on the network has been compromised.

A CSIM can help control room operators understand if a person is working in the office when there is another user logging in remotely. If that is the case the “hacking attempt” can be suspended. Working with cyber networking defence solutions creates a joined-up and common view of the environment.

Another crucial benefit for companies with multiple offices and networks to maintain is the ability to manage large volumes of security data. Vidsys works with Micro Focus Idol, a highly developed Artificial Intelligence tool that analyses and prioritises this data to automatically raise alerts which need attention.

The final piece in the jigsaw is the development of converged security operation centres. These enable the fastest response to any cyber or physical attack, as both the people and the technologies are located in the same place. This allows for a much more streamlined process of communication, the essential core strength in any crisis.

Additional Resources

For a better understanding of what both AXIS Communications and Vidsys solutions can offer see the below, or feel free to contact me to discuss further ([email protected]).

Free Download: The Video Surveillance Report 2020

Discover the latest developments in the rapidly-evolving video surveillance sector, directly from the people at its heart. We surveyed hundreds of professionals working in the field to bring you the 2020 Video Surveillance Report. Responses come from installers and integrators to consultants and heads of security, as we explore the latest trends in the sector including video analytics; cloud-based storage solutions; VSaaS; cyber security; the impact of COVID-19 and more!

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