For any country, city or community to thrive and attract people and financial capital, security is a basic requirement. The need for public safety and security has grown in recent times due to the increased incidence of unanticipated emergencies, natural disasters, crime and terrorism. For the perpetrators, technology is playing a significant role in making the threats highly mobile.
Thanks to the new-age technology, consumer electronic goods such as cellphones are used to detonate explosive devices while cyber warfare through spam and virus attacks is employed to disrupt networks. In addition, non-malicious activities such as employee errors or unintentional misuse of data pose a constant threat.
The growing complexity of threats today requires new abilities to protect citizens, critical infrastructure, and key assets. However, ageing technology systems do not have the capacity or flexibility to meet all these needs.
As the primary purpose of security agencies is to protect life and property, it is critical to connect information with people and organisations that are closest to a given problem or risk, such as first responders and the police.
Security effectiveness can improve when authorities and citizens employ modern technology, infrastructure, services and platforms to connect with each other through intelligent, scalable and enduring solutions. Any 21st century approach to counter security threats should include technologies like:
Collaboration: This solution facilitates inclusiveness and encourages collaborative decision-making for citizen-to-authority, authority-to-authority, and authority-to-citizen situations. It helps in solving problems and achieving operational excellence.
Virtualisation: Virtualised solutions enable resources such as information, workspaces, and expertise to be shared and dynamically delivered to applications and individuals on demand. Virtualisation helps improve organisational IT agility so that public safety and security agencies can reduce costs and extend coverage.
Borderless networks: Safety and security organisations frequently interact across jurisdictions. A mission-critical IP-based network supports the mobility, security, flexibility, and reach needed to execute their missions anywhere, at any time, using a wide range of devices.
A mission-critical IP network can unify the chain of command at the local, community, State, regional, and national levels because it becomes a platform for solutions that support collaboration among varied devices by collecting information in real time, providing powerful event analytics and correlation capabilities. This enables a coordinated response across multiple jurisdictions, helps better detection of events, and provides better assessment and situational analysis.
Whether the IP end points include network cameras, access-control readers, alarm input devices, digital and analogue radios, displays or GPS sensors, the network can act as an intelligent fabric between devices that deliver information to the network and the user interfaces that pull information off the network.
It is important to bear in mind that the network design should be borderless so that the user experience is transparent, whether they are tethered to a workstation in a security operations centre, moving in a vehicle or roving around a city campus.
The more intelligent the network, the less work needs to be done by the end points and applications. When the network contains a broad set of services that include scheduling, messaging, secure transport, analytics, transcoding and more, it drives down the cost and maintainability of the applications and end points.
With city authorities looking at how to do more with less, i.e. to effectively coordinate and deliver services and give citizens better access to those services, providing a safe and secure environment is the foundation to be successful; the network is critical to creating that environment.
(The author is vice-president, Emerging Verticals, Cisco India and SAARC)