Specifically Speaking with Paul F. Benne

President of Sentinel Consulting, based in New York
Friday, May 6, 2016

How is Sentinel Consulting different from consulting firms that work for architects?

Sentinel was created to bridge the gap between traditional MEP/T engineering firms that do low-voltage security design, but lack knowledge in security operations, security integrations, and emergency operations; and the traditional security consultants that have little experience with the technical and engineering requirements of a security engineering project. Our clients hire us to identify and manage the overall security requirements of a project, not just the low-voltage security systems. This more comprehensive approach to security planning and design is often best reflected when the requirements come from the owner and are disseminated to a project’s design team.

Why is this an important differentiator for your company?

Sentinel is unique in that we are able to combine decades of experience in emergency services, security operations, security integrations, construction management and technical fluency in security technology into the role of the security consultant. This unique and uncommon balance of experience makes Sentinel well-versed in all aspects of understanding and executing diverse and complex security projects.

What kinds of projects do you work on?

Sentinel has extensive experience in many vertical markets (commercial retail, financial, education, transportation, city-wide, special events) but the market where we are most dominant is high profile/high target value facilities. Most of our projects start in assessment and master planning, and develop into a comprehensive design and deployment of physical and electronic security.  

Where in the U.S. do you do work?

Sentinel’s primary marketing area is the New York to Philadelphia metropolitan area; however, we do projects globally where relationships or clients take us. In the near future we are looking at adding an office in Southern California.

Can you give an example of some unique uses of technology that Sentinel has designed?

While we are always reviewing applications for security technology, a few unique applications are virtual fence and facial recognition.

We have a client that has an open area that is open to the public during business hours, but due to the architectural design the area cannot be physically closed at night. We designed a virtual fence system that identifies when the fence line is breached on the inbound direction and then activates a local audible announcement while calling up a camera in the security operations center and annunciating the alarm location. This application of various technologies will increase security awareness while allowing the facility to obtain real-time information of perimeter activity, and also allowing the facility to maintain its open environment.

We have deployed facial recognition technology to assist in identifying individuals of security risk to high-profile sites. This technology allows the security department to upload photos to a watch list. If someone on the watch list enters the facility, it alerts the security operations center with information such as: match probability factor, uploaded image, recorded image, and instructions for incident handling. We have found that when this technology is deployed correctly, it has a significantly higher accuracy rate than that of the security officer. This, in particular, reduces the concern for falsely identifying or profiling the wrong individual based on obvious factors such as skin color, sex and facial hair.  

Describe your approach to pricing?

We have a combination of pricing models that we use. Some of our core services are fixed fee, while larger projects are based on project size, duration and complexity. We are not in the commodity-based engineering market and more than likely will not be the lowest price when competing in the typical architectural project model. This is where security technology is often purchased based on the lowest price. Our clients hire us because they value the level of security expertise and experience we have and our ability to understand the project from an executive level.