Getting physical

Physical security is a key element to consider when it comes to protecting your enterprise.

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By  Sean Robson Published  June 2, 2008

Biometrics as a technology to monitor and manage access to datacentres is growing in popularity among datacentre managers.

Part of the reason for this is that implementing the technology may mean something as simple as setting up a biometric device outside the datacentre and linking it to a central database.

Moreover, there is the growing awareness that fingerprints or retinal scans can prove to be much more secure than smart or proximity cards.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is another technology that is seeing increased adoption among certain industries and selected pockets throughout the Middle East.

"We are seeing a growing trend towards RFID applications as they become more relevant in terms of critical solutions. For instance, in case of unforeseen disasters like fires or accidents, enterprises know where their assets and employees are located," says Murli Nair, CEO of Barcode Gulf.

According to Nair and his team, RFID technology based cards have been adopted more extensively in government organisations, as well as banks and financial institutions in the Middle East. They add that the trend is starting to move to larger enterprises in other verticals as well.

When it comes to recommending barcoding and RFID as elements of access control in the physical security system Nair points to two things, "You need to ask yourself, what are my needs, and then, can it be justified. It is initially a costly exercise and so I believe that the requirement should be critical enough to necessitate an investment in these technologies."

Divide and spend

As technologies continue to evolve, the modern organisation begins to incorporate physical security solutions as a part of overall security budgets, and CIOs and IT managers have to budget accordingly.

According to most industry stakeholders, average physical security spend will depend on the existing infrastructure of an organisation together with the specific needs of the enterprise.

"One cannot provide a generalised percentage of budget for physical security as cost estimation depends on the type of project. For example, commercial building projects and luxury real estate projects have distinctly different needs and requirements at the application level. Therefore the investment is dependent on the criticality of the desired application to the overall project," says Sony's Srinivasan.

Ortega was willing to recommend an idea of the breakdown and how the spending on physical security should be weighted.

"I recommend that it be broken down into thirds, a third for the IP cameras, a third for the software and a third towards associated equipment like recorders and monitors. I do believe though that whatever percentage of the budget is spent should ultimately add value to the project."

The RTA is an example of an end-user in the process of formulating the right mix of applicable technologies and budget.

Guha says, "Currently, we are spending a very small percentage of our budget on physical security but we are allocating a much larger share to it as we upgrade our existing solutions."

The RTA's physical security solution is currently comprised of CCTV and access control systems along with security guards.

"We are in the process of building a new office and that will be a 'smart' building, complete with IP cameras, motion detection, fire and safety protocols as well as CCTV," says Guha.

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