Don’t Fall Asleep on Security System Maintenance 

Hospitals, schools and universities must develop security systems and processes to track when their video surveillance systems require repairs.

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Don’t Fall Asleep on Security System Maintenance 

The topic of security system maintenance may be enough for integrators to take a yawn and browse drearily over something more scintillating. Those of you who ignore the importance of maintenance, however, do so at your own peril. According to Campus Safety’s 2016 Video Surveillance Survey, more than half of you say your organization’s security cameras are experiencing moderate to significant maintenance issues.

Although these stats are concerning, my gut is telling me — as well as many of you who are responsible for maintaining your electronic security systems — that the maintenance issue is much bigger than most of us realize. I suspect it’s a case of “We don’t know what we don’t know” and that hospitals, schools and universities haven’t developed the systems and processes they need to track when their video surveillance systems requires updates or repairs.

The problem with security systems

Let’s take video surveillance systems as an example. Schools, universities and hospitals are putting up security cameras at record pace, and most are not monitored by humans. What often happens after a camera is installed is that no one pays attention to it until a year or two later when an incident happens and security or law enforcement staff members try to review the footage. When they do this, they might find that the camera doesn’t work for one reason or another. Perhaps something as simple as a tree branch is blocking the camera and rendering it useless for investigative purposes.

An incident doesn’t even have to occur for your upkeep issues to pose challenges. If the local TV news affiliate finds out about your maintenance problems, you can bet that your problems will be prominently featured on the 5 o’clock news. This happened in May to one school district in Georgia, where a local news crew reviewed the district’s repair logs and discovered that the average response time for camera repairs was 61 days. Four cameras were out of order for more than a year.

It’s also important to remember that physical security equipment upkeep doesn’t just involve replacing worn-out parts, adjusting camera angles, trimming trees and installing new batteries. Much of the maintenance associated with today’s video surveillance systems involves software upgrades. Unfortunately, some older systems currently running in healthcare and educational environments are no longer supported by the manufacturers that made them. When the software in these systems is out of date, the security camera or card access system or HVAC solution not only doesn’t work well (or at all), it is more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

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Read more of this story on our sister publication, Campus Safety.