In Episode #24 of our Podcast, How should professionals responsible for the safety of commercial buildings think about threat intelligence and use it not just to keep people safe but improve operational efficiency?
Lyndsay Close from Intelligence Fusion joins us for an in-depth discussion on the subject! Intelligence Fusion has published a white paper “A Guide to Using Threat Intelligence in the Built Space” which you can download for Free Here.
Transcript of ‘Why Smart Buildings Should Embrace Threat Intelligence!’
James: Great Lindsay welcome to the podcast!
Lyndsay: Thank you for having me.
James: Absolute pleasure and obviously I asked you to come on today because I wanted to talk about threat intelligence and something of course that you and your company have been doing for a while and I think probably a good place to start would be you know for the people who may not really understand it or know what it is can you just give us a quick description.
Lyndsay: yeah so um intelligence Fusion is a threat intelligence software platform so ultimately we alert businesses of physical security threats that may impact their operations people assets or even their reputation um so prior to starting here I worked within the built space so I feel like I’ve got a good understanding of threats that could impact sort of facility managers building managers construction industry um things that could cause risk or disruption to their operations as a result of that.
James: Okay and you deliver this as a software package right is it?
Lyndsay: Exactly it’s a software platform so ultimately threat intelligence is information about emerging active or historical incidents that might impact your business so it provides that context that can Aid with planning and strategy but also allow you to be more proactive as opposed to reactive okay and incidents I mean that’s an interesting thing in itself right like what do you define as an incident and I guess there are different grades of of what what they are as well right yeah I mean it’s it is very complex we’ve got 159 um different iconography Types on the platform so that shows kind of the breadth of incidents that we cover um and yeah we also have a severity scale as well so we we log them in terms of like whether they’re significant or insignificant um but yeah there there is so many different um incident types that could impact an organization and could cause disruption um so I think it’s definitely it’s worthwhile reviewing and for the built space in particular you know there’s a lot of threats that you know might not be considered you know things like activism is is huge today um it’s increasing year on year criminality in around your assets even things like travel disruption or natural hazards can have a big impact on on businesses.
James: So you mentioned some interesting things there activism isn’t something that gets mentioned as much right as terrorism and crime I mean we in our business we look as well at like a lot of um security technology um I mean yeah how do you I mean how’s that impacted what you guys do activism and again I suppose like why is that important to professionals who run commercial buildings?
Lyndsay: So we’re getting more and more requests to be honest from companies across a range of Industries asking for information about activism because it is so big right now and it can’t cause so much disruption um so we actually map um plan protest t as well as protests so we can for warn our um clients in advance so if we know there’s going to be a protest in a couple of month’s time we know the location of it we can make our clients aware of that we can send alerts so that they can then put plans in place to divert operations or maybe get their employees to work from home that day if that’s going to cause disruption because things like protests they can be quite insignificant but they can cause a lot of travel disruption they can get quite violent they can you know often it can turn to vandalism it can cost security teams a lot of time and money um but ultimately it can also just increase the risk of your employee’s safety but you know also just the general public as well.
James: How does it go beyond just safety of staff and assets like what else can it sort of be used for yeah so I think when it comes to kind of going Beyond safety?
Lyndsay: Ultimately it allows a business to plan and prepare and carry on operating as normal and potentially in quite a volatile landscape so it just allows businesses to run as normal really it gives them that extra layer of intelligence layer of information that allows them to do everything that they want to do and carry on operating um but when I was thinking about this you know it kind of it also feeds into ESG so I think having accurate verified information allows businesses to visualize the consequences of not complying with ESG but also helps businesses be more aware of ESG factors which as I’ve said Can Aid with planning and strategy development um so by incorporating threat intelligence it demonstrates a commitment to resp responsible business operations but it can also enhance a company’s reputation it can attract socially conscious investors and it can also improve just long-term sustainability in general as well.
James: You mentioned something earlier about uh remote working whether say for example there’s a traffic incident or even some kind of activism or something you can divert people back to work from home which I think is I mean it’s so relevant for people who are managing office space and commercial buildings I mean we’re dealing with this sort of hybrid uh working environment now anyway where we’re trying to balance the the the two things so yeah I mean if you can reduce the amount of time uh that somebody spends travelling or let’s say divert them back home if they’re if they know that they’re going to have to spend too much time travelling in I mean there’s a massive um productivity gain there as well I guess.
Lyndsay: Definitely and I think you know most organizations your employees are your greatest asset um so why would you not want to do everything you can to safeguard them and protect them um so it is kind of like an enhancement’s it’s enabling businesses to empower their people to give them the choice um but also you know increasing that awareness.
James: We talked about like operational efficiency a bit about productivity there what about like continuity I mean can you put that in context for let’s say facilities managers um I mean how should they think about?
Lyndsay: So I think in terms of business continuity as I said before there it’s ultimately just about keeping a business running as normal as normal as possible um so I think this is when things like predictive intelligence come into play so again that element of being proactive and stopping issues before they have a big impact or before they escalate further um so we report on things such as um emerging threats so we’ve got a team of analysts who work on a 24-hour basis monitoring the global threat landscape um they are experts within the regions that they analyze so they are the best people to be able to review the current situation and look for these emerging threats so these are effectively threat warnings that we can pass on to our um subscribers and let them know that there may be a situation that could develop um So within that they look at the most likely and most dangerous course of action so it gives our subscribers the ability to look at sort of the best and worst case scenario that could happen and then put mitigation plans in place um so I think that’s a big part of business continuity being able to be aware of that kind of information um but also like I’ve said things like planned protests like as I’ve mentioned that’s one of the the biggest kind of threat types that customers come to us interested in so being able to know when there’s going to be disruption um is also really desirable and our analysts also add a lot of commentary into incidents within the platform so again they share their Insight so it allows employe um it allows customers sorry to gaug a level of risk and then preempt disruption.
James: I mean that’s very human analysis isn’t it as like you’ve got these actual people who with expert knowledge I mean how do they go about doing this is do they have themselves human sources or they combining different sources of information?
Lyndsay: It’s a mix so we pride ourselves on you know being human Le um every incident is verified before it’s mapped on the platform so it adds that extra layer of trust and confidence in us our subscribers know that once something is mapped on our platform it is verified and they can trust that therefore they can make decisions with confidence um we do also use some sort of automated scraper tools as well um but everything is reviewed by an actual human being before it is mapped um because we think that is you know very important and that’s what you mean by verification that someone actually checks it and then what looks for other sources to sort of um yeah I mean all of our incidents are backed up by sources on the platform as well so nothing is kind of just put on there as an opinion for instance like everything has a credible source to back it up.
James: I’m bringing it back to physical security so I’m thinking like video management um access control I mean everything now we’re bringing these kind of systems are being brought together um integrated so security managers have like a you know a view of their building I mean how should they think about threat intelligence is there a way of then integrating that into security platforms?
Lyndsay: Yeah I mean obviously within the built space you know I’m very aware that there’s lots of kind of disparate systems and there’s a desire to to integrate a lot of these systems and to share data um So within our platform we do have a rest API which people can buy and integrate with so you know in theory this is something that could be possible you could integrate with our platform um so I guess if you were if facilities management company and you had sort of an access control app or something like that that employees or tenants may use to gain access to a building often we’re seeing these sort of apps become more about an experience so whether that’s like I don’t know it’s like pizza Friday in the canteen or whatever it might be you know there’s various news alerts come through it and so in theory if we were to integrate with an app like that we could create more of a holistic experience for tenants and employees which is focused around safety and empowering them with information that they need to do their job more effectively so that could be in the form of a news feed for instance um and because our data is accurately geolocated it could just feature incidents that are nearby where you are currently located um or it could be within a couple of Miles radius or you could have the option to filter that um you one of the biggest reasons that people use our platform is for travel you I think when employees are traveling for work their level of risk increases dramatically um so again being able to have an app or even if you know a subscriber to our platform would access all of this as well um but being able to conduct a risk assessment save all critical documentation in one Central source so that it improves communication but then also look at the threats around the destination you’re traveling to look at the route that you’re traveling are there any areas that are seen as higher risk do you want to potentially take a different route and this can also be like really important for supply chain um risk mitigation as well so when you think of how vast Supply chains can be um it allows you to kind of be proactive and look at areas that you might want to change um again like there’s been Lads of instances where you might want to maybe there’s been some sort of like blockage in a canal or something and you might not want to wait however many days for your packages or your supplies to be taken off this so you might decide that you want to increase the cost of postage and you might want to fly that out to customers instead as opposed to just tell them there’s being a delay you can be proactive and you can look at other Solutions.
James: That’s really interesting I didn’t even consider that as a possibility but yeah of course um ties into the whole I mean it’s not just one part of business continuity is it about the people there lots of different areas interesting yeah is there sort of like a typical client that you have?
Lyndsay: We work across such a vast range of Industries you we obviously monitor the globe and we monitor 159 different incident types so it can be relevant to a lot of different Industries um we do work with facility management companies we also work with manufacturing companies so like I said um mapping out Supply chains and looking for risks and vulnerabilities within the supply chain um similar kind of thing with pharmaceutical companies um also you know oil and gas mining companies uh travel companies there’s lots of scope where threat intelligence can add a lot of value to lots of different Industries do you also work with uh public uh entities governments uh or NOS yeah we do um we’ve got a few different clients that fall into that category that currently subscribers of the platform we’ve also got the um Dutch mod um of a client as well um the Met police so we can offer um a lot of value to these kind of organizations as well and I think a lot of the time it can be the historical information that we hold on the platform that seen as valuable as well so we’ve got over a million historical incidents mapped so it’s a good database to be able to refer back to and like I said add that extra layer of context if you’re planning something you might want to look back at how things have mapped out previously and that could be a good kind of starting point.
James: That’s super interesting because I mean that’s a could be a rich source of information for well a lots of different reasons the amount of data there that you can collect and like look at Trends over time and where things are happening and when and like the inference you can get from that I mean is that you you have clients use it in that way or do you actually use it yourself like that?
Lyndsay: Definitely I mean we use it like that um but also a lot of our clients do as well um we’ve also got some clients who they might have a subscription to the platform but they also pay for custom paid reports so they might have a particular Niche interest um and our analysts can then write these reports based on whatever their interests are it could be a particular region um and they could be after like geopolitical information and Analysis about that um and our analysts can write that for them on a monthly basis or however often they want that but that can kind of accompany the data we have on the platform and add that extra level of insight as well.
James: One thing you mentioned earlier about workplace experience I think that’s super interesting because as you said like we there’s like a whole category of apps now that manage that experience for employees and you mentioned access control so it can look at that and like there are lots of different sources of information and as you said like they’re they’re being given information about what type of uh events are happening within the company or that stuff so it would make a lot of sense to be able to put into that alerts around maybe traffic issues or activism that’s happening in the area as well that sounds really interesting
Lyndsay: yeah definitely I mean you know we’ve we’ve seen recently Extinction Rebellion oops sorry the light has gone out it’s all right we can still see you I’m just gonna move around some example of intelligent lighting yeah I know great um yeah we’ve obviously seen examples quite recently of activists like Extinction rebellion and just stop Ole um causing a lot of disruption and I think being able to make employees aware of things like that like I said it might not be something that escalates it might be something quite low level but if if you are a company that offers the ability to work from home pushing out an alert like that to all staff to let them know could increase productivity could decrease risk it could just make things a lot easier um I think recently just as an example um last generation are another sort of activist group that operate primarily in Germany um and they’ve recently been protesting a at a lot of universities around the area um and they’ve also been vandalizing like landmarks such as the Brandenburg gate or causing disruption at the Berlin marathon and different things like that so if you had a facility within Germany or facilities you might be want you might want to be kept aware of that particular activist you might want alerts about activity that they’re conducting within a certain mile radius of your assets um they also recently conducted a lot of disruption at airports in Germany where they glue themselves to runways So that obviously had a massive impact on travel disruption flights were cancelled so yeah I think obviously it can be very localized you can look at intelligence in terms of threats to your particular business the area you operate within but also sort of national and Global events or incidents that could have a KnockOn effect on your business.
James: Great points and look thanks for sharing your uh your insights today I think again I just a different perspective I think you know in our my little world of Building Technology we don’t we always some like Miss some of these things like threat intelligence it’s not something that’s like on our radar so I think it’s really interesting to get your perspective finish off one last question for you if there was one thing that you want people to take away from this conversation what would it be?
Lyndsay: It’s a difficult one I feel like a lot of what we’ve discussed today has been based around how volatile Landscapes can be obviously businesses are currently operating in a very fast-paced world and change is constant so threats can emerge swiftly and often without warning which leads to widespread damage and disruption um so I think if I wanted people to take something away from this podcast it would be business decisions should be based on fact as opposed to guesswork and I’m I think all too often we miss out on that um as I said you know your people are your greatest assets so safeguarding them should be a number one priority um and our aim is ultimately to work with security teams be an extension of your security team um and Empower professionals to do their job confidently and effectively um so yeah and we do have um a white paper which is um f around threats impact in the facilities management industry as well which is it’s a free guide people can access.
James: Happy to share the link for that as well if please do I’ll put a link to it I’ll put a link to it in the show notes for sure and thanks for finishing on that and a really interesting topic thanks for sharing your Insight.
Lyndsay: Thank you very much for inviting me.
James: Thanks everyone for listening bye for Now!