Specifically Speaking with Shawn M. Whalen

Electrical department manager/communications & security specialist for Burns & McDonnell, based in Minneapolis
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How did you get into security consulting? What’s your role with Burns & McDonnell’s global security group?

I started my career as an electrical engineer (PE) designing power, lighting, and building systems. Over time, clients started asking for security design and consulting services. I became increasingly interested in security design and wanted to add security certifications to my resume. In 2011, I was certified as a Physical Security Professional (PSP) by ASIS. Since becoming certified as a PSP, security design has become a greater part of my design responsibilities. My primary role with the Burns & McDonnell Global Security Group is the design and specification of physical security systems. 

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

We design and specify intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance systems. The vertical markets we work in include aviation, electrical and gas utilities, corporate, government, Department of Defense, higher education and manufacturing. For many of our clients (especially in the utility market), our designs have been incorporating long-range intrusion detection technologies such as ground-based radar and video analytics to improve detection farther from the critical perimeter.

How are you using biometrics in your work today?

Our clients have increasingly started to use biometrics for access control in critical areas or facilities. With manufacturers incorporating cameras for iris and facial recognition, the speed of recognition is being reduced, which makes the use of biometrics more appealing.