Large, complex organizations have many security needs. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. However, when you have many moving parts, it tends to introduce many unexpected vulnerabilities.
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Because they face security vulnerabilities on many fronts, these large organizations naturally look for technologies that can streamline operations. As a result, smart security systems, like AssetTracer and KeyTracer systems, are some of the most valuable tools large organizations can choose, as they improve many aspects of business operations, not just asset security.
Physical keys, electronic devices, equipment kits, if they’re used in a business process, a smart security system can help you manage that process more effectively. With one caveat: they’re only as effective as how well you train your personnel to use them.
You may invest in a sleek new key control system, roll it out business-wide, and find out that everyone is sharing PIN codes and ignoring alerts. There’s not much point in rolling out a new security system implementation if it’s going to go underutilized.
The root problem is a lack of employee physical security training. People need guidance when introducing new ideas and technologies into their work environment. They need to understand the value that these systems bring to the organization and their workdays. A physical security training program is the best solution for achieving these goals.
7 Best Practices for Running Physical Security Training programs
While security professionals are experts in their own discipline, many don’t have a lot of experience training non-experts on security technologies or security-minded work practices. And that is OK. Teaching can be a challenging activity to learn.
We’ve pulled together the seven most important best practices you should follow when designing and running a physical security training program. Applying these practices will help ensure that your organization gets the most value out of any new security system you’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and money implementing.
Have an agenda planned
If you’ve never conducted a training session before, it can be a surprise how easy it is to forget even major topics when standing in front of a group of people, even when you’re teaching a subject you’re an expert in.
Always outline a training agenda that includes every topic you need to cover and the key details of each. That becomes easier if you’re doing a presentation in your physical security training. Simply make sure every key point has a dedicated slide, even if it’s just a one or two-word title. These slides will be a visual reminder for each essential topic as you work your way through the presentation.
But be ready to adapt
You may know the new security technology best, but your company’s personnel know their individual teams best. If they’re asking specific operational questions about using the new physical security system, you should be ready to adapt your lesson plan to address their concerns. Build plenty of time into each training session to explore those important avenues you might not have considered and any one-off questions that arise.
Keep it specific
Ensure your training is specific to your organization and the tools and technologies you use. One common mistake we’ve seen professionals make is running physical security training programs that are too vague. They might talk about perimeter security and the concept of access control instead of, for example, talking about how to authenticate contractors at the facility’s western entry point due to past breaches.
Be transparent about past security challenges where you can. Staff are much more likely to remember the procedures you teach them when they understand the real-world impact they can have. For example, hearing the specific number of past thefts of business and personal electronics will make staff much more receptive to learning how to use a smart locker system.
But keep it high level
Teaching a lengthy to-do list that needs to be carried out consistently by memory is not ideal. Unless you’re in a high-security setting where staff are able and expected to travel with comprehensive checklists, your organization’s security will depend on staff simply remembering to carry out their work securely daily.
Instead of lengthy checklists, stick to training them on a few core concepts that will be applicable in as many situations as possible. Fundamental principles are easier for staff to remember and are broad and flexible enough that they will see many ways to apply them in their day-to-day lives.
Use practice scenarios
While lectures are great ways to share large amounts of information quickly, not every student learns well just by listening. Many engage and retain procedures much better during practice scenarios. Make sure to include hands-on, practical experience scenarios in your training agenda.
When you break out into practice sessions, use real-life scenarios that your staff might encounter on the job or recreate past security incidents at your organization. Then add a complication. Force them to adapt while still applying the core security principles you want them to use.
Schedule refresher training sessions
With the help of ongoing training in how to use your new security systems, your personnel can become your best security assets. If you have specific threat scenarios that your organization is concerned about, conduct ‘live fire drills’ where the relevant staff practice handling them directly.
Then conduct an after-action review to determine what portions of the drill went well and didn’t go as planned. Why didn’t they go as planned? What could be modified in the plan to handle them better next time?
Lead by example
A solid security program requires more than just front-line staff to execute. Management and executive leadership also need to take an active role in developing a ‘security first’ mindset for your organization. When front-line staff sees leadership taking ownership over the business’s safety, they’re more likely to participate.
4 Trends in Physical Security You To Know About
Those tried and true best practices will always help you conduct the best training sessions possible. But it never hurts to know the latest physical security trends. Here are four trending security topics you should consider adding to your training program.
Business operations, threats to our businesses, and the tools to combat those threats exist in a converged reality where physical and network-based tasks are tightly integrated. As a result, we can no longer treat physical and IT security as two separate domains. In our physical security planning and implementation, we need to face security convergence head on, as these two security domains will only become increasingly aligned as time goes on.
Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and other autonomous technologies are “smart technology.” Smart tech can monitor its performance and make modifications based on data it collects. As a result, it can manage many tasks without human intervention.
Real Time Networks products, like our AssetTracer line of equipment management lockers, are smart technology. For example, a law enforcement agency could use AssetTracer lockers with a scale in a storage compartment to conduct weight checks on OC (pepper spray) canisters. Spray use is regulated in many jurisdictions. If the system identifies a low weight on a return canister, it can prompt a supervisor to get a report from the returning officer.
Biometrics have exploded in popularity in recent years, whereas before, businesses used them mostly for higher security venues. As their cost has come down, they’re now commonly used for all types of access control in general security environments. Post-pandemic, contactless biometrics have been especially popular.
Current popular biometrics for physical access control include fingerprints, palm prints, iris eye scans, and facial recognition. However, each comes at a different price point and offers a different level of security and usability.
Smartphones and other mobile devices are now also commonly used for access control. A secure app on the phone transmits a user's credentials to an access terminal. A user gets those credentials—a digital “key”—from an authorized supervisor or security officer in their organization.
You can update credentials in real time. So, for example, if an employee needs to come in off hours to do something in a restricted area, you can send credentials to their phone from your home PC the moment you get authorization from their supervisor. Or you can revoke access for temporary employees in real time when they leave your organization.
Training and Technology Together Make Your Organization Stronger
As you gain more experience training staff, revisit your training agenda periodically. Business and security are constantly evolving, so you need to ensure that your training is always up to date with the latest changes in your field.
Do that, follow these best practices, and your physical security training programs are sure to deliver the maximum benefit for your students and your organization.
Looking for more help with your physical security training?Read our guide Best Practices for Physical Key Management
About the Author
Vice President of Marketing
Jay oversees marketing and strategic partnerships at Real Time Networks and has over three decades of experience in leadership roles in the financial services and technology industries.