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Genetec's got a lot going on

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MONTREAL—The Genetec 2014 Press Summit, the first ever, is a wrap after a day-and-a-half of presentations about the company co-founded by President Pierre Racz in a basement more than 15 years ago.

Racz kicked off the summit with an overview of the company, a global provider of unified IP security solutions, including video surveillance, access control and license plate recognition. Those solutions are aimed at the retail, transportation, education and gaming sectors. The cloud factors in big, as does federation, unification and hybridization.

Genetec is also making a push to be more in touch with end users so customers can help design products and help Genetec customize solutions for them. [More to come on that.]

Racz spoke of one end-user, a courthouse, that wanted a separate judges-only elevator for security reasons. Rather than put in a new elevator strictly for judges at high cost, Genetec installed an access control system that would allow a credentialed judge to enter and then shut down all floor buttons so that he or she could be alone in the elevator, without disruption, until reaching the destination floor.

Executive VP Alain Cote discussed the company’s driving focus in key areas: Continuing to expand and innovate video capabilities; increasing investment to grow Genetec’s share in the access control market; leveraging the cloud to develop new products and capabilities; and extending enterprise marketing offerings.

From there on out we heard from Genetec project managers and others about specific products, along with live demonstrations of its Security Center and its AutoVu License Plate Reader.

Interesting facts: Genetec has deployed more than 100,000 cameras in education settings. Its largest deployment of cameras in a single airport overseas? 12,000. At a U.S. airport, 2,000. 

All press participants at the summit, from the U.S., Canada and Europe, were provided personal access-control badges, which we had to use to get in and out of doors separating different departments within the, of course, highly secure headquarters building.

The company does practice what it preaches. Even at lunch.

In the company’s “Genetec Bistro,” an on-site eatery with surprisingly good, low-priced food (entrees about $2 Canadian each), we selected our choices and then paid our tabs by swiping our access cards and reporting via touchscreen what we’d put on our trays, just as the employees do every day. The money spent on food is deducted from the employees’ paychecks. No one has ever cheated, Genetec reps said. In fact, employees will sometimes report: Oh, I took a dessert today and forgot to swipe my card, so please charge my account.

An informative summit and a nice group of people, both Genetec folks and colleagues in security pubs, made for a worthwhile visit to Montreal, a delightful city, even in snowy and very frigid February. 

Stay tuned for more news from the summit on the Security Director News website.



Next Gen panel goes over big at TechSec

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—The first day of the TechSec Solutions conference was capped off with a two-part Next Gen Security Series: Security directors' perspective: Young security professionals' use of new technology on the job; and Security integrators' perspective: The changing landscape of security integration. Both were great panels.

Four of Security Director News’ “20 under 40” winners were on the directors panel: Adam Parker, director of loss prevention, Lamps Plus; Ron Self, director of safety and security, Blytheville, Ark., Public Schools; Nick Santillo, director, operations security, American Water; and Mike Wiley, senior VP of security, Switch data centers, Las Vegas. You can find profiles of each of the panelists by visiting and doing a simple search for them on the site by name. If you haven’t checked them out already, you’ll want to.

I had the pleasure of moderating this panel. Not only was I impressed with the intelligence of these four gentlemen, but also with the professionalism, integrity, determination and passion for their work that came through loud and clear despite their myriad on-the-job challenges.

Each panelist from across those different verticals talked in depth about those challenges. Parker, who is responsible for 43 high-end stores in seven western states, talked about mobile POS. Self, who protects six schools, 2,500 students and 450 employees, discussed his difficulties securing older buildings with too many entries and exits—and lots of keys. Santillo, who works for the largest investor-owned water utility in the United States, covering 16 states, addressed the challenge of bringing physical security information from multiple states, across 3,000 geographically separate assets, back to one centralized team. Wiley talked about his eight data centers, serving clients ranging from casinos, health care, banking, government to e-tailers and others, and how he gets those clients in and out of his highly secure facility without impeding them.

Collaborating with other departments within their specific entities was also a hot topic. Can you say IT? These folks say you can’t make it today in the physical security field if you don’t have a good relationship with IT. Self, who brought some of his IT folks with him to the conference, also works closely with his local police force.

The practical use of video analytics and biometrics was a common theme. Parker would like to be able to quickly identify fraudsters—from ORC members to individuals using stolen credit cards—from the moment they walk through one of his store’s doors and then get that information out to his other stores. Self uses biometrics at his schools to prevent students from getting more than one free lunch and would like to use it in the future to prevent employee time theft.

Another constant discussion point was seamless integration. Santillo spoke of leveraging his PSIM and using mobile technology for his access control system. Wiley said he has to keep many of his security systems separate, because he doesn’t want one going down to have an impact on the others. He'd like to see that change.

After the discussion, I heard from a number of audience members, from integrators to manufacturers to security directors, that the directors’ panel was informative and timely and provided much food for thought.

Following the integrators’ panel, Security Director News and Security Systems News honored the “20 under 40” winners in attendance at a reception.

SDN’s winners, in addition to the above four, who received their awards were:

·      Greg Black, senior systems administrator, Florida Power & Light

·      Demerle Lewis, security manager, New York State Insurance Fund

·      Dante Moriconi, physical security manager, L-3 Communication Systems West

·      Ralph Nerette, manager, security services, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

·      Chris Russell, director of security and assistant director of engineering, Montage Beverly Hills

·      Patrick Wood, manager, security integration, John Deere & Co.

Other “20 under 40” winners who were unable to attend the ceremony are:

·      Jason Adams, national manager–organized retail crime Gap Inc. investigations department

·      Molly Broniak, loss prevention and security/managing investigator, Pennsylvania State Employee’s Credit Union

·      Mark Crosby, infrastructure security manager, NV Energy

·      Douglas Farber, security director, World Trade Center

·      Michael Lehmann, physical security specialist, Department of Veterans Affairs, Bath, N.Y.

·      Paul Michaels, director, office of program security, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Institute of Medicine, National Research Council

·      Kenneth Rasmussen, manager, security services, Waterbury Hospital

·      Natalie Runyon, security director, Thomson Reuters

·      Jason Stone, director of security, Collegiate School, Virginia

·      Brian Weaver, formerly senior asset protection specialist, Minneapolis Metro Transit Police Department


Again, you can read all about these up-and-coming industry leaders on


Day 2 of TechSec is almost here. Stay tuned!



Columbia mall adhered to shooter protocol

Monday, January 27, 2014

Retail security experts praised store employees at the Columbia, Md., mall for following proper protocol when gunshots rang out there Jan. 25.

A 19-year-old gunman killed two store employees before killing himself. Authorities Jan. 27 said they still are unclear of the shooter’s motive.

USA Today ran an article on the mall’s preparedness for such an event.

NRF VP Rich Mellor and Joseph LaRocca of RetailPartners told the newspaper that store managers and employees locked their front doors or gates and got everyone in the store into back rooms to wait for police to tell them it was OK to come out.

Store managers at the Columbia mall went through training conducted by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

It’s a good article, so check it out. (Even if it did misspell Mellor's name.)


Off to TechSec 2014!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One of the best parts of my job is interviewing our “20 under 40” winners.  I so enjoy talking to these young pros.

In a few days I will have the pleasure of meeting many of them in person.

We know how busy our winners are with their myriad responsibilities. That’s why we are so pleased that 10 of them were not already booked with other appointments and able to take time away from their packed schedules to sign up for the TechSec 2014 conference next week in Delray Beach, Fla.

These winners will make TechSec shine (even more)! As I’ve mentioned here before, when we read our feedback surveys from the conference, the NextGen panel and getting input from the “20 under 40” winners in general are always tops among the attendees’ five-star ratings.

I’ll be reporting on the keynote speaker Harold Grimsley’s talk and a number of the conference educational sessions.

I’ll also be blogging and Tweeting about it, as will my colleagues at Security Systems News, so please follow. The Twitter hashtag will be #TechSec2014. Keep in touch!

After TechSec I’ll be headed north to Canada for the Genetec Connect14 Press Summit in Montreal. More about that to come.




Purdue police chief praises quick response to active shooter

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Purdue University Police Chief John Cox has commended his officers, the West Lafayette, Ind., police and school authorities for their quick response to the Jan. 21 shooting on campus that left one student dead.

“Everyone did exactly what they should have done," he said in a CNN report. “You train and plan, and train and plan for one of these incidents and hope it never happens. But unfortunately, it did."

Cody Cousins, an undergraduate teaching assistant, allegedly sought out and fatally shot fellow teaching assistant Andrew Boldt in the Electrical Engineering Building on the Purdue Campus about 12:30 p.m. Cousins then surrendered to police outside the building.

The school sent text messages about the shooting to students, asking them to take shelter where they were. That request was lifted by 1:30 p.m., though the electrical engineering building remained closed so police could investigate.

The shooting at Purdue came a day after a student at Widener College in Chester, Pa., was shot on outside an athletic complex on the campus. The student called 911 after being shot in the side and reportedly is hospitalized in stable but critical condition. A Widener spokesman said the shooting was not a random act of violence.

The Widener suspect remains at large. Police were reviewing surveillance footage and using K-9 units to track the suspect, who they believe fled into a residential neighborhood adjacent to the athletic complex, on the edge of the campus.


Shopping couple foils ATM thieves

Monday, January 20, 2014

So here’s some good news for a Monday.

Alex Hamilton and Sara Chu helped police in McCall, Idaho, catch suspects trying to steal an ATM a few days ago.

The couple was leaving a grocery store when they saw, at a nearby bank, a truck chained to an ATM, according to CBS 12 News. At first they thought maybe the truck was taking the ATM in for repairs, but when the truck pulled forward and the ATM burst into flying pieces, they called 911.

They then followed the truck, all the while telling the police dispatcher where it was headed. When the police showed up, however, the dispatcher told them to get out of the area immediately, the news report said. Fortunately, they followed her advice, because the robbers started shooting at the officers and disabled all their vehicles.

The ATM thieves are now in custody in Utah and are suspects in similar crimes throughout the country, the McCall police chief told the CBS 12.

Great work on both fronts, Alex and Sara, both in giving the police directions and following police directions!



Ram raider wasn't after an Apple product, just another type of fruit

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I’ve written about ram raids before, where vehicles are used to plow into storefronts for destructive robberies. Convenience stores, especially those with ATMs inside; pawn shops; and jewelers are likely victims. Ram raiders even target pet stores.

There’s also been a high incidence of ram raids at Apple stores where the culprits smash and grab expensive computers, tablets and phones. But this man in Connecticut apparently wasn’t looking for an Apple product. No, he was looking for a banana.  Yes, a banana.

I’ll quote directly from an NBC Connecticut news report:

“Police in Newington are looking for the man who they said committed a bizarre crime early this morning when he backed an SUV into a Connecticut gas station, stole a banana, ate and left in the damaged vehicle.

“Police responded to the Citgo Gas Station, located at 502 Cedar St.,, after a burglary alarm went off at 1:48 a.m. [Jan. 9] and noticed extensive damage to the doors, police said. 

“When they reviewed surveillance video, they saw a light-colored Ford Freestyle station wagon with Connecticut registration plates back into the store door several times and break the glass.

“Then, a man went into the store, took a banana from a shelf, peeled it, ate the fruit and left the store, police said. 

“The man was not wearing a mask, did not try to conceal his face and did not take anything else, police said.” [Emphasis on: "did not take anything else."]

A photo of the suspect, posted by the NBC Connecticut website, shows him quite clearly. He took off in the same SUV that smashed into the gas station.

Ram raids are a serious threat to the retail industry, and I don’t mean to make light of this threat for a second. Thank goodness there was no one inside the gas station at the time who could have been injured. But, again, all that for a banana? Did the thief destroy the storefront and once inside undergo a stroke of conscience and then just decided to grab a banana for his efforts? Or did he simply have a very, very strong hankering for a banana?

Can’t wait to learn about his thought process and. I’ll keep you posted.  





TechSec's coming fast!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Today I posted five more profiles of our prestigious "20 under 40" winners. I only have five more left to post, which means the TechSec conference is not far away.

After talking with these young professionals over the last few months, I am so looking forward to meeting them in person. Last year, my first time at TechSec, I learned a lot from our winners and called on them many times after as sources for articles I was writing for Security Director News. Each and every one of them, both those I met last year and those I 've spoken to this time around, are smart, personable and passionate about what they do. You can't ask for more than that. Their employers should be extremely proud.

I am excited to once again moderate a Next Gen Security Series panel titled, Security directors' perspective: Young security professionals' use of new technology on the job. This panel, featuring four of our "20 under 40" winners, is a highlight of the show.

There's still time to register for the TechSec conference that will be held at the end of this month. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, great educational sessions are planned—check them out—and this is not a conference that tries to sell you on any particular system or solution. It's all about learning and sharing ideas, and there's plenty of time for some fun, too. [And I can tell you that after these first days of January in Maine, I'm also looking forward to a little sunshine and beachtime.]

Congratulations again to SDN's "20 under 40" winners!






Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

We here at Security Director News would like to wish all of our sources and our readers very, very happy holidays. Thank you for a great year. We have enjoyed speaking with you about trends, successes and challenges. We’ve appreciated your comments on SDN articles and look forward to more of your feedback.

Here’s hoping that 2014, along with the improving economy, will bring more security—along with more funding—to schools from K-12 to the university level, a decrease in organized retail crime due to all the great efforts out there, fewer risks at hospitals for both patients and staff and more technology to banks to protect customers and employees.

We believe the future of the physical security industry is in the greatest of hands, as evidenced by our new batch of “20 under 40” winners. They are dedicated and passionate about their roles.

The new year is looking bright.


Are armed school guards the answer?

Monday, December 16, 2013

It took 80 seconds for 18-year-old student Karl Halverson Pierson to enter Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13 in Centennial, Colo., and critically injure a fellow student.

At that one minute and 20 second mark, the heavily armed gunman knew that an armed guard was coming after him, and he fatally shot himself.

School officials and local law enforcement authorities say the fact that there was an armed guard at the 2,229-student school with 70 classrooms potentially saved many more lives.

Arapahoe is not far from Columbine, where in 1999, two students killed 12 fellow students and one teacher and injured 24 others.

What do you think? Are armed guards the answer?