Tell us about your professional background.
I have worked in the security industry for more than a decade with a wide range of different experiences, including as an end-user, a manufacturer, and as an integrator. I was the director of corporate security for a medium-sized, international company, a transportation vertical market manager for a security manufacturer, and now the transportation vertical market manager for the 2nd largest security integrator in North America, Convergint Technologies. I have found that by working in this industry from a number of different perspectives that I can relate to the pressures security managers in the transportation market are experiencing.
What is your role at Convergint?
I oversee and coordinate the transportation vertical business development efforts in North America. This includes being the point of reference when it comes to thought leadership, current events, technology & process strategy, communication with industry associations, communicating with architects, designing proposals, and communicating with security end users in the industry. I am in a unique position where I interact with many groups and organizations in the transportation industry across North America. I see the common security challenges and can provide recommendations on how others have solved these issues.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges faced by the transportation vertical as it relates to security?
Technical difficulties can create a lot of problems for the transportation industry. This vertical has a massive amount of infrastructure that is not easy to upgrade because much of the technology does not integrate. There is also a limited amount of manufacturers for this vertical, creating a monopoly in solutions. Many times, decisions are made without enough information. Companies would get a better result if they demanded more information from consultants and attended security industry trade shows to network and gain exposure to the various solutions available in the marketplace.
What are some common problems and solutions you see in the transportation vertical?
Various sectors in the transportation vertical experience similar problems. This includes the need for better situational management and situational awareness, a need for better change management in shifting from technology to technology, and the need for better interoperability of non-security systems – such as Identity Management for HR – by integrating access control, permission sets, and scheduling.
Mass notification is a common solution that works well for transportation, especially with a large number of people in a small place. Mass notification enhances emergency communication efforts by delivering messages to the specified audience via their preferred method of contact, such as text, email, and phone. Other common solutions include shot detection, access control, video surveillance, and mobile technology.
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In particular, can you describe what Shooter Detection Systems can do for airports in the event of an active shooter?
An active shooter poses a lot of problems for an airport. Mass notification systems can be used to tell people where to go, which without current information about shooter location, could potentially lead people right to the gunman. Another problem is protecting first responders from the active shooter. Law enforcement needs to know where the gunman was most recently spotted and proceed to those locations. Shooter Detection Systems provides data to make decisions. The technology detects the gunshot, can tell which direction the shooter is traveling, and alert the correct people. Officials are then able to make timely decisions based on knowledge and a data path. With this information, the airport is then able to lock down the gunman so that they cannot move freely throughout the terminal.
Read: Convergint Technologies and Shooter Detection Systems Installed at Major U.S. Airport
What role, if any, does cyber security play in this industry?
Cyber is playing an increasingly important role in the transportation industry. In the past, due to the analog nature of equipment being used and installed, cyber was only a concern for computers in the offices connected to the network. Cyber is no longer a hacker simply ‘out there’ in cyberspace, trying to break into the network. Now, every sensor has a connection to the network, creating a vulnerable port. The Internet of Things (IoT) means every item plugged into the network is a potential cyber vulnerability. Everyone who enters a building brings with them a potential threat to the network, from malicious characters with WiFi scanners to employees who do not change their passwords. This means that security planning has to incorporate cyber protection, from the placement of access control boards in secure areas to utilizing identity management to protect the network.
Do Convergint’s Contract Vehicles play a role in supporting the transportation industry?
Transportation projects are usually publicly funded or are public-private partnerships. This means navigating a sea of contract obstacles, but also being able to find funding an agency didn’t know existed. Our contract vehicles play two important roles in helping agencies. First, they provide funding options to our customers for important projects. Secondly, we are able to better explain to our customers how these vehicles work, saving time and solving challenges for procurement offices.
What makes Convergint technologies the best choice for the transportation vertical?
Convergint is product-agnostic, which enables us to be completely open and honest with our end users about what solutions provide the best security outcomes to specific challenges. Also, we have people completely dedicated to this vertical, with a large customer base of organizations who are facing similar challenges. We are able to recommend solutions that best solve a problem and are not focused on a particular product, because Convergint does not manufacture anything. Our only focus is to solve challenging security problems and to be our customer’s best service provider.