What Security Directors Wish AV Integrators Knew

Security Directors at the recent Securing New Ground 2017 conference enjoy contracted AV integrators help but seek to overcome many challenges regardless.

Mickey McCarter Leave a Comment
What Security Directors Wish AV Integrators Knew

Lauris Freidenfelds, director of security services and emergency management at Rush University Medical Center laments that AV integrators often aren’t equipped to deal with immediate security directors’ requirements.

“AV integrators need to step it up and work in the here and now,” he said during a panel at Securing New Ground (SNG) 2017, the security marketplace conference produced by the Security Industry Association, held in New York City on Oct. 26.

Ultimately, the weakest link in a secure environment is a person installing or delivering a system, Freidenfelds said.

Companies can offer phenomenal technology and systems, but it’s worthless if a technician cannot install, manage and assist with it. Too often AV integrators started their companies as “wire pullers” and now environments are rooted in software.

Security Directors’ Three Central Concepts

A lot of companies have not kept up with the changing times, Freidenfelds suggested during a panel on the perspectives of security directors who manage large enterprises.

The result is that a technician will arrive in response to a challenge but lack the skills to resolve the issue, resulting in the integrator sending more people.

At Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, Freidenfelds considers three elements of building security: operations, architecture and technology.

He requires information quickly in an emergency so incident managers can determine how to best deploy those elements in response to a situation.

From an incident command center, the medical center security staff must communicate internally to stakeholders and externally to first responders as effectively as possible.

Rush security personnel monitor inventory levels in real-time to see remaining stocks of pharmaceuticals, linen, and other patient requirements to know how to best address their needs in the face of a catastrophe.

“Once we print something out, it becomes obsolete,” Freidenfelds said of the requirement for real-time information through information systems.

Where AV Integrators Can Overcome In-House Options

While these systems are often developed internally, Freidenfelds recognizes the value of outside contractors, who can lend outside experience and a fresh perspective to the hospital’s challenges.

Still, hiring outside help can be cost-prohibitive.

That’s one reason Doug Reynolds, director of security, Mall of America, told SNG attendees he likes to keep his security operations in-house as much as possible.

The Mall team strives to achieve a balance between incorporating the latest technology versus adding more processes that may not truly be beneficial.

More than 40 million people pass through the Mall of America annually. Reynolds would really like to communicate better in emergencies through social media, but says he hasn’t found the right avenue.

And sorting through information remains one of his biggest challenges. The Mall of America hired intel analysts in response to Reynolds’ concerns that he might be missing critical intelligence in the sea of information.

Yet Reynolds very much prefers to build his own systems, sometimes using outside AV integrators.

“We will take small companies that have small but nimble operations and build on those,” he said. “We sometimes exceed their capacity.”

Panelist Tim McNulty, managing director, JP Morgan Chase, addressed the requirements of the status quo from a different perspective.

“We are a big company, so it takes time to get in to work with us,” McNulty said.

Security Directors Weigh Costs Tighter than Ever Before

At JP Morgan Chase, 1.2 branches on average are robbed every day. Despite security technology, the company’s tellers may face guns to their heads. So, JP Morgan Chase weighs its $40 million in annual security expenditures carefully.

McNulty echoed concerns of his fellow security directors: How do you sort through Big Data to best protect people? And how do you monitor within your own organization for insider threats?

Outside the organization, protests and other challenges can disrupt business inside.

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The JP Morgan Chase security operation likes to keep a high level of situational awareness around its business locations so it can act within 10 minutes prior to an anticipated emergency — an hour is even better. Still, McNulty remains wary of new products.

“Everybody’s got the best thing you’ve ever seen, then you turn around and there’s the new best thing you’ve ever seen,” he said.

“Everybody’s providing a similar approach. The skill is to tailor it at the consumer end. That’s the trick.”

JP Morgan Chase relies upon a mix of in-house and contract security operatives, McNulty acknowledged, because contractors work at a lot of different sites and across various industries, bringing valuable experiences. At the end of the day, McNulty wants security to enhance and not disrupt business.