IT vs Security: Surveillance 'Ownership' Stats

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 05, 2012

Who calls the shots when it comes to video surveillance? Given the close proximity of the system to several distinct departments, we were curious to see has ultimate 'ownership' of end user's surveillance systems and equipment. We reveal and analyse the answers in this note.

Overview

In our recent global survey of surveillance end users, we asked:

owns surveillance

We left the question open to any answer, and asked end users to explain their situation in detailed comments. From the chart above, it is easy to see answers broke in three main groups:

  • Security Ownership: The majority of answers indicate that end user security departments clearly 'own' surveillance, however, very few answers in this group suggest they are alone in maintaining the system.
  • IT Ownership: Less commonly, the end user answered that "IT" owned security, even if they were not primary users of the system. The technical similarity between network video and other network equipment was the key driver, up to IT being responsible for product recommendations and provisioning of system access.
  • Mixed Ownership: The third major group listed system 'ownership' between two or more groups. Often these groups included other groups specific to individual customers (eg: Facilities/Maintenance/Engineering) or noted 'ownership by committee' where final decisions are made jointly.

Disclaimer

The results may be skewed towards IT as they are based on an online survey of 60 end users who were disproportionately from rich western countries, a majority of which managed large 500+ camera systems. Keep this in mind as you interpret the results.

Poll Insights

The answer to this question clearly has political significance for many end users. "Ownership" often indicates "budget" or human resources that "support" responsibility alone does not provide. As such, the idea of "ownership" is not the same across all respondents, but it does characterize the final authority on buying and support decisions. In the section below, we examine some of the trends that emerge from the detailed responses:

Security Needs IT: Frequently Security purchases and/or operates surveillance systems, but IT is responsible for maintaining them. Categorical 'ownership' may vary from one end user to the next, but the incorporation of IT resources into operations are common regardless of system size or market vertical.

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  • "The Security Division is the business representative, on account of this being where much of the system knowledge resides. However, the IT/Comms people are the system managers."
  • "Install of system, ongoing maintenance, and improvements to the system are managed by the Facilities/IT department. Day to day operations of the system are carried out by a 3rd party and overseen by Corporate Security."
  • "Security, with the support of IT on certain systems."
  • "IT does IT best, and public safety handles live video and investigations. We have one IT and one safety person who work together to resolve issues, bringing in other IT staff as necessary. This provides some overlap and continuity."
  • "Joint ownership between Security and IT. [This] allows end users to stay close to product selection and functionality while maintaining the supportability of the enterprise."
  • "Control was recently moved to the engineering/facilities department, though the backbone network is technically owned by the IT department."
  • "Law enforcement or security management because they must do the monitoring and drive the procurement process via their budgets. IT can only assist in recommending which technology to consider."

How does IT get involved? The purpose of IT and Security are different in many organizations, with entirely different organizational focuses. In many cases, IT has no operational interest in video surveillance beyond ensuring devices are online and functioning, while Security in heavily dependent on the visibility of the system in every phase of operation. Despite having different operational focuses, Security and IT are often intertwined. The detailed answers our end users provide describe 'why' this situation is often present:

  • "IT controls/manages all the cameras. It happened that way for one because other staff members in our organization don't have the technical knowledge to understand the requirements or don't have the time to dedicate to them."
  • "University Information Systems "owns" all technology decisions, including video surveillance."
  • "IT - because it is totally dependent on the IT Infrastructure."
  • "The IT department makes sure all IP cameras running on the existing network ."
  • "The surveillance system is owned/controlled by the IT department because of the technical nature involved in setting up and maintaining the complete system."
  • "Law enforcement or security management because they must do the monitoring and drive the procurement process via their budgets. IT can only assist in recommending which technology to consider."

Communication is Key: When sharing ownership, mutual system involvement and communication is critical to success. Because the importance of operational video has a heavy bias towards Security, and may be 'just another system to support' for IT, many answers describe the critical importance of deliberate coordination to keep all parties working toward the same goals:

  • "Security owns and controls it, I think because that's the way it's always been. My IT department and I communicate frequently on needs and impacts and we trust each other. If they didn't trust me and my ability to look after how my surveillance system affects our network, I'm sure the system would quickly become their responsibility."
  • "Information Systems works closely with security and other departments to define requirements."
  • "Loss Prevention/Security - because it is primarily analog based and has always been under Security/Loss Prevention control - however...under IP/Networked video scenario - IT will have a much larger role."
  • "This is split between public safety and central information technology, with some overlap and communication gaps in the middle."
  • "While security department "owns" the surveillance system, I take extra effort to include our IT department in making all significant decisions however, and it has paid off. "

Conclusion

Not surprisingly, network video systems have expanded stakeholders to include departments other than Security. The days of a truly 'self sufficient' Security department appear to be ending. Ownership of the system may belong or be divided among non-traditional operational groups, but this circumstance seems to amplify the 'voice' that traditional Security departments have in coordinating work and defining system performance goals.

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