How to integrate fleet security systems

Jan. 25, 2021

Partnering with expert integrators is enabling the combination of video surveillance, access control, and IT tailored to specific needs and dramatically driving down costs, while flagging and escalating only true dangers

Equipment managers responsible for on- and off-road trucks must not only protect the trucks from theft or vandalism, but they must also watch over the construction equipment these trucks carry from jobsite to jobsite.

Williams is a technical writer compensated by BTI.

BTI Communications Group suggests that fully integrating the latest capabilities of physical security and access control systems can drive down costs significantly.

This “virtual” approach combines video surveillance, access control, and information technology (IT) integration to replace many of the functions of in-person security personnel, significantly reducing costs. Virtual systems can be customized to a variety of loss prevention situations no matter the size of the operation or type of assets that need to be protected. Examples include preventing the theft of trucks, batteries, catalytic converters, and other valuable items.

The strategy takes full advantage of the interconnectivity of information across a broad range of systems and devices. Based on the fleet’s priorities, integrated systems can intelligently sift through millions of points of information and prioritize only the most relevant events to deter and prevent theft in ways that were previously not possible.

In the past, says Eric Brackett, president of BTI, “using off-the-shelf tools to create super secure environments would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for larger organizations to staff, monitor, and support.  We are routinely implementing these solutions with better, faster response, at a fraction of the client’s current cost.

“However, I find that most industry professionals are too busy with their existing responsibilities to realize how much has changed and how valuable it could be to them.”

Although the status quo for physical security is familiar, the rapidly growing volume of data in the form of video, alerts, and reports is threatening to hide the most important threats in the sheer volume of less important data. Yet such information continues to be continually reported and logged on sensors, cameras, servers, PCs, smartphones, two-way radios, and thermostats.

The challenge has been sorting through these virtual mountains of data—often kept in separate, unconnected systems—quickly enough to act on threats in real-time, according to Brackett. Furthermore, IT technicians usually do not have the expertise or time to manage all these separate systems by themselves.

“Now expert integrators have perfected the use of tools that bring all that information together into dashboards that convey needed information at a glance,” Brackett says. “This is combined with technical and operational procedures to analyze, parse, and present it. So, actual threats can be responded to and thefts deterred in real-time.”

The goal of the fully integrated virtual approach is to vigorously and promptly protect valuable truck and equipment assets from theft without unnecessary staffing, excess equipment, or complexity.

In terms of video surveillance, that means instantly spotting any anomalies and escalating only those that need attention. It means preventatively spotting any discrepancies in door or gate access control, based on time of day, location, personnel involved, and other factors. It means analyzing a host of variables specific to the business that must be considered, and drawing the attention of equipment managers when it is time to act.

For fleets that have security cameras and access systems already installed, there may be some level of integration, but Brackett suggests greater potential.

“Traditionally, full physical security integration would require a team of engineers with specialized training to set it up, keep it working, and manage all these events day-to-day,” says Brackett. “We are continually designing and installing these systems down to the wiring, so it's relatively easy for us to tailor them to the specific requirements of individual trucking companies needing asset protection,” says Brackett. 

According to Brackett, such intelligent systems then prompt security guards, supervisors or managers to take immediate, appropriate action in a variety of settings to keep people or property safe.

As an example, he notes that companies may need to protect their fleets from thieves entering their lots at night to steal vehicles. Or the companies may need to prevent battery theft. In such a case, cut locks and sliced cables not only cost thousands of dollars of damage to each vehicle, but also render it inoperable until repaired.

Where old school security may involve renting guards round the clock or missing important threats because disparate systems are not communicating, taking advantage of physical security integration can ensure a prompt response when it is needed to prevent theft at much lower cost.