From satellite imagery to street views to indoor mapping, technology has disrupted our past world. This has left us dependent upon new ways to visualise large spaces. This new world has brought many benefits and risks. But what does that mean for the security professional or facility manager today and what technologies can be used to secure buildings and improve facility operations?

A Brief History Of 3D Technology

Starting May 5, 2007 (inception 2001), Google rolled out Google Street View to augment Google Maps and Google Earth; documenting some of the most remote places on earth using a mix of sensors (Lidar/GSP/Radar/Imagery). The mission to map the world moved indoors May 2011 with Google Business Photos mapping indoor spaces with low cost 360° cameras under the Trusted Photographer program. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialization, expensive hardware and unavailable computing power

With the growth of 3D laser scanning from 2007 onwards, the professional world embraced scanning as effective method to create digitised building information modeling (BIM), growing fast since 2007. BIM from scanning brought tremendous control, time and cost savings through the design and construction process, where As-Built documentation offered an incredible way to manage large existing facilities while reducing costly site visits.

In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialization, expensive hardware, unavailable computing power and knowledge of architectural software. Innovation during the past 8 year, have driven ease of use and lower pricing to encourage market adoption.

Major investments in UAVs in 2014 and the commercial emergence of 360° photography began a new wave of adoption. While 3D scanners still range from $20K – $100K USD, UAVs can be purchased for under $1K USD and 360° cameras for as low as $100. UAVs and 360° cameras also offer a way to document large spaces in a fraction of the time of terrestrial laser scanners with very little technical knowledge.  Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors

The result over the past 10+ years of technology advancement has been a faster, lower cost, more accessible way to create virtual spaces. However, the technology advances carry a major risk of misuse by bad actors at the same time.

What was once reserved to military personal is now available publicly. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors. Al Qaeda terror threats using Google Maps, 2007 UK troops hit by terrorists in Basra, 2008 Mumbai India attacks, 2016 Pakistan Pathankot airbase attacks, ISIS attacks in Syria using UAVs, well-planned US school shootings and high casualty attacks show evidence that bad actors frequently leverage these mapping technologies to plan their attacks.

The weaponization of UAVs is of particular concern to the Department of Homeland Security: "We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts."

 Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans
Example comparison of reality capture on the left of BIM on the right. A $250 USD 360° camera was used for the capture in VisualPlan.net software

What Does This Mean For The Security Or Facility Manager Today?

An often overlooked, but critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing. Most facilities managers today work with outdated 2D plan diagrams or old blueprints which are difficult to update and share.Critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing

Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans. This leads to costly mistakes and increased timelines on facility projects. 

Example Benefits Of BIM

There could be evidence of a suspect water value leak which using BIM could be located and then identified in the model without physical inspection; listing a part number, model, size and manufacture. Identification of vulnerabilities can dramatically help during a building emergency.

First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans and they must have immediate access to important building information in the event of a critical incident. Exits and entrances, suppression equipment, access control, ventilation systems, gas and explosives, hazmat, water systems, survival equipment and many other details must be at their fingertips. In an emergency situation this can be a matter of life or death.

Example Benefit Of Reality Capture

First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans A simple 360° walk-through can help first responders with incident preparedness if shared by the facility manager. Police, fire and EMS can visually walk the building, locating all critical features they will need knowledge of in an emergency without ever visiting the building. You don’t require construction accuracy for this type of visual sharing. This is a solution and service we offer as a company today.

Reality capture is rapidly becoming the benchmark for facility documentation and the basis from which a security plan can be built. Given the appropriate software, plans can be easily updated and shared.  They can be used for design and implementation of equipment, training of personnel and virtual audits of systems or security assessments by outside professionals.

Our brains process visual information thousands of times faster than text. Not only that, we are much more likely to remember it once we do see it. Reality capture can help reduce the need for physical inspections, walk-throughs and vendor site-visits but more importantly, it provides a way to visually communicate far more effectively and accurately than before. But be careful with this information. You must prevent critical information falling into the hands of bad actors.

You must watch out for bad actors attempting to use reality capture as a threat, especially photo/video/drones or digital information and plans that are posted publicly. Have a security protocol to prevent and confront individuals taking photos or video on property or flying suspect drones near your facility and report to the authorities. Require authorization before capturing building information and understand what the information will be used for and by who.There are a number of technologies to combat nefarious use of UAVs today

Nefarious Use Of UAVs

There are a number of technologies to combat nefarious use of UAVs today, such as radio frequency blockers and jammers, drone guns to down UAVs, detection or monitoring systems. Other biometrics technologies like facial recognition are being employed to counter the risk from UAVs by targeting the potential operators.

UAVs are being used to spy and monitor for corporate espionage and stealing intellectual property. They are also used for monitoring security patrols for the purpose of burglary. UAVs have been used for transport and delivery of dangerous goods, delivering weapons and contraband and have the ability to be weaponised to carry a payload.Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualization of facilities is well worth the time

The Federal Aviation Administration has prevented UAV flights over large event stadiums, prisons and coast guard bases based on the risks they could potentially pose, but waivers do exist. Be aware that it is illegal today to use most of these technologies and downing a UAV, if you are not Department of Justice or Homeland Security, could carry hefty penalties.

Facility managers must have a way to survey and monitor their buildings for threats and report suspicious UAV behaviours immediately to authorities. At the same time, it’s critical to identify various potential risks to your wider team to ensure awareness and reporting is handled effectively. Having a procedure on how identify and report is important.

Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualization of facilities is well worth the time. It can help better secure your facilities while increasing efficiencies of building operations. Reality capture can also help collaboration with first responders and outside professionals without ever having to step a foot in the door. But secure your data and have a plan for bad actors who will try to use the same technologies for nefarious goals.

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Is The Physical Security Industry Doing Enough To Prevent School Shootings?
Is The Physical Security Industry Doing Enough To Prevent School Shootings?

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What’s New In U.S. Government Procurement For Security?
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How Internet Of Things (IoT) Aids Facility Management And Physical Security
How Internet Of Things (IoT) Aids Facility Management And Physical Security

As buildings become more complex and smarter, the age-old traditional maintenance methods that are based mostly on hands-on human monitoring are becoming more and more inadequate. Instead, the world is fast adopting building automation as a key component of smarter and more proactive maintenance strategies. The aim is to free up maintenance staff and give them time to focus on other tasks while machines monitor the different systems that work together to make the facility functional. Specifically, Internet of Things - or, IoT - enablement appears set to transform the way facility managers deliver service to building occupants. The trends are many and the possibilities are almost mind-boggling, from inventory management, to work scheduling and energy efficiency, the list goes on and on. Below, we look at a few ways in which IoT is being used for Facility Management and Security. 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Selected equipment are fitted with sensors that monitor specific operational parameters and let maintenance professionals know how the machines under supervision are working, understand their current condition, and then pinpoint the optimum time they need to be maintained. The information generated this way is vital as it allows maintenance staff to intervene just in time to avoid costly downtime and other associated inconveniences. This is, in a nutshell, the basics of predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. These days, by implementing condition-based maintenance, IIoT is being used to effectively monitor a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC, fire suppression, security, etc. The applications are numerous and so are the benefits. On page 52 of this guide by the US Department of Energy, they state that a functional predictive maintenance program could yield up to 10 times ROI, reduce maintenance costs by 25% to 30%, and reduce downtime by 35% to 45% Along with fire suppression, IIoT is effectively monitoring a wide range of systems such as lighting, HVAC and security Remote Monitoring Of Facilities Physical inspections have been a critical condition for the success of conventional maintenance programs, even in hazardous environments. But, with the increasing emphasis on personnel safety, organizations want alternative solutions that allow staff to examine assets without being physically present. Facility managers and their team working in industries like manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining can relate with these constraints. And these industries can benefit greatly from deploying predictive maintenance solutions. For example, in the oil and gas industry, IIoT sensors can be used to monitor remote and highly critical assets. These sensors can be used on pipelines to detect anomalies (especially corrosion) and pass that information to supervisors for necessary action. By doing this, potential failures are quickly predicted to avoid often disastrous incidents. Managing Energy Consumption Sensors are also being embedded in building components and devices like HVAC systems, lights, doors, windows to understand energy consumption and proactively manage it. Facilities that use this technology could achieve substantial energy savings. In a press release by IT research and advisory company, Gartner, they stated that IoT can help reduce the cost of energy - as well as spatial management and building maintenance - by up to 30%. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building These sensors work by monitoring different conditions in the building and causing a power-saving action based on the data received. For instance, occupancy sensors can order lights to turn on when it senses motion in a room and then turn off the same lights when there is no presence there. That way, there is no need to wait for someone to remember to switch off the lights when they are not needed.   Another very common use is in HVAC monitoring. Looking at HVAC systems very closely, we see that they are a major source of energy usage in any building. So, the issue is how can one use IIoT to manage HVAC and possibly reduce their energy usage? Well, in its most common form, IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes then communicate with the rest of the HVAC equipment and make needed adjustments for occupants’ comfort. Not only that. IoT-enabled HVAC works as a connection of sensors and thermostats that monitor factors like indoor air quality, temperature, and environmental changes The Technology Can Be Configured To: Track energy consumption at different distribution points throughout the building. Track usage from the power source right down to the consumption point. Detect sudden voltage drops or spikes (usually an indication of some fault). These are essential benefits because HVAC units are notorious for consuming large amounts of energy when they are working inefficiently. Security And Access Control Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management. It takes several forms such as the monitoring of life-saving systems like intruder or fire alarms, invisible barriers, and other safety installations. Facility managers are using IoT across different industries to obtain live information about potential emergency situations with a view to responding before the issue escalates. In such cases, quick detection of any strange activity is key because many of these installations have tangible negative effects when they fail or when they are intentionally sabotaged.Smart surveillance is another important area of application for IoT in facilities management Fortunately, the surveillance equipment can also be setup to send alerts to cellphones to aid emergency response or evacuation as the case may be. Smart surveillance is also priceless for monitoring the situation in partially or fully automated remote facilities (especially oil and gas installations and mines), and in hostile environments with critical equipment where humans cannot work for extended periods of time. If you are not yet using IoT in your facility, you may be wondering where to start from. To avoid getting overwhelmed, a good place to start would be to try a small-scale deployment of this technology then review its ROI and impact on your operations before adopting a more widespread IoT implementation. This way you can gradually scale up as you and your staff come to understand and adapt and to this new way of doing things.