Specifically Speaking with Jerry Blanchard
You recently rebranded your firm as Protus3. Can you describe what three areas your business focuses on and your business philosophy?
After 28 years as Risk Management Associates, we made a tough decision to consolidate our brand. The reason was simply brand confusion. We were often misunderstood as a company in the financial or insurance industries and over our history we were alternately known as Risk Management, RMA, and RMA Security. Protus3 is Risk Management Associates, under the same ownership and management, delivering the same high level, quality services. Protus3 adopted a tagline of “Plan, Protect and Prosper.” It’s our philosophy as we work with customers. We recognize that our customers have a mission and it is not security. Our role is to support and augment their security in a manner that embraces the organization’s mission and contributes to the overall prosperity through the implementation of a strategic security program. Protus3 has three core business areas: consulting, systems design and investigation. Consulting represents our work conducting strategic security planning, assessments, compliance reviews, training, security program development, policies and procedures development, staffing reviews. Systems design represents our work with technical security systems through assessments, security systems designs, communication designs, Request for Qualification/Proposal development, project management, commissioning services. Investigation represents our work in helping customers identify and mitigate issues that may be harmful to the customer’s brand, reputation and/or financial position. These services include computer forensics, surveillance, due diligence, background checks, undercover operations, expert witness support.
What vertical markets have you worked in? Where are you most active now?
We have worked almost every vertical market. Our most recent work has been in the healthcare, education, high-tech, insurance, energy and corrections markets as well as local, state and federal government.
What’s your opinion of the promise of video analytics and biometrics? Do you specify those technologies often?
I think both video analytics and biometrics are now proven technologies, but both have very specific applications. And yes, we do specify both technologies, but not often. First, biometrics is still limited by throughput. Meaning, these products should be used in locations with low-volume traffic. We tend to see the preference from customers [with] high security areas like data centers and labs as an example. Most customers are unwilling to spend the money or impede the general access to a building. With the development of facial recognition and other longer range identification technologies, high throughput access may be more affordable and acceptable in the future. Video analytics has significantly improved over the last few years with the increased processing power of cameras. This has led to pushing the analytic capability out to the camera, minimizing network bandwidth and server processing. By pushing analytics to the edge, it becomes more cost effective, easier to deploy, more flexible in licensing and managing. The biggest challenge to analytics continues to be image quality and environmental conditions. That said, and even with megapixel cameras, video analytics is very difficult to specify up front. It seems to be best implemented on a trial basis in a given location to help mitigate the challenges that cause false acceptance and false rejection alarm conditions.
What about using the phone for access control? Will that be a reality any time soon? If so, in what sorts of applications?
The concept of using cell phones to unlock a door is not new; it was initially started using Near Field Communication (NFC) protocol in the university market. Unfortunately, NFC is controlled by the telecommunication giants. Their pricing models appear to be the major impasse as they demand a percentage of each transaction. This is not something that the security industry would likely be tolerant of or accepting. Since the initial concept using NFC, the Bluetooth protocol has come of age and appears to be the chosen direction in the security industry for this application. Since every new cell phone comes with Bluetooth, all that the card reader manufacturers needed to do was to add the technology to the readers. This is now done and is being tested in several higher education environments. Higher education seems to be one of the best starting points for deployment because almost every student carries a cell phone, but may not always have their ID. The major benefit to the education market is the potential cost saving from not issuing technology IDs as the student population turns over on a regular basis. The potential is unlimited in terms of markets, but it should never eliminate the ID. The ID will always be necessary to prove your identity visually to another human. We can’t always rely on technology.