Specifically Speaking with Andrew Wartell
Tell me about your professional background before you started Wartell Consulting.
I spent 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency. I spent the first half of my career performing offensive technical operations and the second half on the defensive side, providing security for facilities, both overseas and domestically. My final assignment was as the associate director of the Center for Security Evaluation (CSE), a multi-agency activity with oversight of U.S. Embassy security design, construction and operations. I retired in 2002 and had a short business development job with Veridian/General Dynamics before going to Goldman Sachs for four years as their VP for Global Security and Special Projects. At Goldman, I was responsible for the security design of their new headquarters building in Manhattan, data centers around the world, all hazards assessments, facility site selection, business continuity and the NYC commercial representative to the development of the master security plan for the World Trade Center.
What’s the idea behind the consortium and how does it work? Can you give some examples of work the consortium has completed?
When I was at CSE, because of its multi-agency role, we were very inclusive in our mission, putting together capabilities from across the community to meet operational requirements. When I started my consulting business, I noticed that there were opportunities that companies would not go after because they did not have a certain capability called for in the request for proposal. Sitting on several company boards, I started to introduce these companies to each other; a cyber company to a PSIM company, a video analytic company to a personal security company, etc. I decided to formalize the introductions and form the Wartell Consortium that now consists of some 25 companies, all with a different niche or part to play in the security market. We continuously share opportunities across the Consortium and meet once every eight weeks. The consortium does not contract directly but instead facilitates companies’ communications and partnering on opportunities. We have worked on threat, vulnerability and risk assessments, port assessments, designed and operated the security for the U.S. Pavilion at the Worlds Fair, provided bespoke physical security solutions to iconic structures in NYC and for U.S. Department of State we have developed an indirect fire protection system for their facilities in high threat posts, overseas.
You have a side business that’s led to some archeological applications?
When I was in government, I sponsored the development of a technology that uses cosmic rays to image underground structures. The origin of the technology was in the 60s when it was used to image a pyramid in Egypt. Our technology and knowledge of cosmic rays (muons) has advanced to the point where what required 40 tons of equipment to do back then, has now been reduced to about 200 pounds with centimeter to one-half-meter resolution depending on distance from the sensor. We can easily image everything down to 50 meters regardless of soil condition. The archaeology community is excited about this capability as they are now able to literally image and map their planned digs depending on what they image within the target area. In partnership with the University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Roy Schwitters, we are currently imaging a pyramid in Belize and have permission from the Israeli Antiquity Authority to image sites in Israel.
What do you think about thermal camera technology?
The application of thermal imagery for high value sites is critical to the overall success of the security plan. In many environments, the use of adequate lighting for conventional imagery and the use of infra-red illumination is not appropriate. Thermal imagery fills that security gap, providing not only a covert/non-intrusive imagery capability but also the ability to reach out, pushing-out the perimeter far beyond the fence line. The ability to distinguish the heat signature in a cluttered visual environment, sets the capability of thermal imagery apart from the others. The cost and reliability of thermal imagery has made it a competitive alternative and one that can be used to significantly reduce vulnerabilities in challenging environments.