Specifically Speaking with Eric L. Wagner Sr., NICET

Data/Fire/Security designer for SSOE Group in Toledo, Ohio
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How did you get into security consulting?

I began my career in the industry as the “project engineer” for SimplexGrinnell’s Nashville, Tennessee office. I spent just over 19 years in that position where I assisted in sales, interpreted the design document package, ensured accurate bill of materials for equipment orders, developed point-to-point installation drawings, coordinated with field installers and contractors, developed documents for system programming, testing and commissioning, and managed the projects through customer acceptance. I utilized Six Sigma training to streamline processes within the organization and coordinated a wide-range of projects including: fire alarm, access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, intercom/paging, sound, nurse call, mass notification, and patient wondering systems. I left SimplexGrinnell in 2011 to accept a position in SSOE’s dedicated Data/Fire/Security department.

What's your role with SSOE Group as a project discipline lead?

SSOE is a one-stop shop for facility design—meaning we can take a project from the planning stages through site selection, architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and the data/fire/security process, on through to on-site construction management. Every project is assigned a lead for each of the individual disciplines. I am one of our Data/Fire/Security project leads. In our Data/Fire/Security department we have eight dedicated engineers/designers.

Our project leads will coordinate the design of the Data/Fire/Security systems from project kick-off through construction administration. Throughout that process we coordinate with the owner’s representative, other discipline leads, CAD designers, project managers, and contractors to ensure that the designed systems comply with code requirements, meet the customers’ needs, and stay within their budget. We offer cost-savings suggestions, which many times meet or exceed the project design fee. Our Data/Fire/Security department team members all have strong knowledge in each of the fields but are highly encouraged to specialize in one or more fields. Through internal collaboration and checking we can ensure that a system expert is engaged in each phase of the systems designs. We then take those designs and convert them to a workable construction package that includes detailed plans, scopes, and specifications for each of the systems.

What kinds of systems do you specify? What vertical markets do you like to work in?

Our dedicated Data/Fire/Security department provides design packages for tele/data systems, fiber backbones and networks, video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, security screening, data centers, nurse call, patient wondering, visitor management, fire alarm, mass notification, sound, intercom/paging, and pre-action fire suppression—just to name a few. I personally enjoy engaging in large industrial projects (an automotive manufacturing facility, for example) the most.  These projects provide me the opportunity to design large-scale and complex campus-wide networked systems and the ability to monitor the systems as they come together for the client.

Can you talk about what new or emerging technologies you are seeing or using today, such as with video surveillance or mass notification systems?

The biggest trend that I am seeing in the video surveillance world is the utilization of the system not only for passive tasks, such as recording of events or investigation, but for active tasks such as detection and alerts. Video analytics are being employed to provide intruder detection, facial and license plate identification, and smoke/heat detection.

Mass notification systems are stepping out of the federal government world and into the civilian market at an amazing pace. Large industrial plants, campus, educational facilities, healthcare facilities, and many more are now seeing the advantages to implementing an intelligible voice mass-notification system. The systems provide standard or customized digital audio messages for building evacuation, shelter in place, severe weather, or facility lockdown, in addition to the ability to broadcast a live voice message to the facility as a whole. For hearing impaired occupants, visual notification devices such as amber strobes and digital message boards can be used as well.

With technology advancing as such a fast pace, it’s remarkable to think of what these systems will be able to do in the near future.