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A system is only as strong as the process, policy and procedure behind it

Posted: 17th June 2021

By Robert Baillie, Operations Manager, Evolution Security

Facial recognition. A technology that is increasingly being specified within the security industry. So too Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). A technology that is now well-established in the market, and a familiar tool in car parks, for example, to improve vehicle flow and enhance the customer journey. But the technologies themselves are of little value on their own. They are only as useful, and effective, as the policies , processes and procedures that stand behind them. And this is where some businesses are falling down.

Take ANPR. A car approaches a barrier, and an image of the vehicle’s number plate is taken. On its own, it does not contain any personally identifiable data. However, once the license plate is checked with the data held at the DVLA, then the ‘status’ of that data changes. It now enters a realm where General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Data Protection Act 2018 comes into play, and all of the challenges that brings.

With Facial Recognition there is a similar scenario. While it captures the image of a ‘living person’ and not an inanimate object, a policy, process and procedure remains a requirement in order to measure and manage the potential impact on privacy and – by definition – to support a compliant operation.

A security or fire detection system does not support compliance on its own, and this realisation has led some to find temporary fixes to meet their regulatory responsibilities. But this is not the solution. The solution is in a better understanding of what the technologies can and cannot do, and the role that people play in determining the effectiveness – or otherwise – of the systems installed.

This is something we have learned in more than a quarter of a century of delivering Enterprise-wide security and fire solutions for businesses across Europe, many in the most mission-critical environments. We have become experts at what we do, and have the clients, the testimonials and the accreditations to prove it. But we also continue to invest, in our people, in our infrastructure, and in our research and development, to ensure we always stay one step ahead of the game, with a senior leadership team who are qualified Chartered Security Professionals.

Our expertise gives us an insight into the latest local and international regulations but being conversant with such regulations is not enough. Take, for example, the latest UK Fire Regulations. We may all know the correct systems and equipment to install; we may similarly know they need to be well maintained and compliant with relevant Standards; we also recognise the importance of an escape plan. But as soon as someone props open a fire door with an extinguisher, the integrity of the system collapses.

The point is that you can have the best, most expensive system in the world, that delivers the highest levels of sophistication and modern thinking, but none of it is even worth the cost of the packaging if it does not have the correct policy, process and procedure in place to support and manage it. That is the difference between an ‘installer’, and a business that starts with a consultancy-led approach that includes specialist risk and design.

System needs to be adapted as a business changes – whether that’s security, HR, payroll or procurement. And your people are your biggest strength – or your greatest weakness – depending on how you engage with them.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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