G4S monitoring and data center is Cordasco's 'baby'
It's been a busy week so far with page design and layout for the April edition of Security Systems News. April is the issue that ships to ISC West coming up at the end of the month. It's a good looking issue! Because of the business of the last few days, I have been a little remiss in posting to this blog. I have had some interview material and pics from a March 5 visit I made to G4S' high-tech video monitoring and data center located in Burlington, Mass. I've been meaning to post. The following will highlight that visit. It was nice to finally meet G4S monitoring and data center VP of ops Jerry Cordasco in person. Jerry has become sort of a go-to guy for me who's always willing to chat about current trends in the industry. I found out on this visit that he's also an accomplished musician who rocks out pretty regularly. I wrote about the opening of the center way back and have written about their certifications, partnerships and other developments. The center is hard to find... not because it's actually all that difficult to locate when you have directions, but because when you type "G4S + Burlington, Mass." into Google Maps, you get the other G4S address in Burlington... the one for G4S Wackenhut, which--while nice and staffed with friendly and helpful people--was not what I was looking for. Here's a picture of the placard out front of their building. You'd think I'd of picked up the hint I was in the wrong place when I saw the Wackenhut appended to the G4S name... Anyway, a phone call to Jerry later and I had sufficient directions to get me to the expansive G4S monitoring and data center campus. Jerry was nice enough to tell me it wasn't my fault--that the monitoring and data center address isn't really listed online (keeping a low profile and all that). The monitoring and data center is nestled on a 450 acre campus complete with miles of hiking/biking trails. And Cordasco assured me they were used by the center's employees. While waiting for Jerry to come and get me from the lobby, I had time to admire the the center's CSAA Five Diamond plaque, and their specially built bike storage room. "We knew that we wanted to build a video monitoring center--something that was unique, different from what other people had done and different from what G4S had done in the rest of the world, in that G4S has other monitoring centers, but they're traditional monitoring centers. We wanted to develop something that was more closely aligned with our manned guarding business here in the US, which is Wackenhut." I told Jerry I was quite familiar with Wackenhut... at least in Burlington. "I had the responsibility to figure out how to do that--how to build it, where to build it and what technology to deploy. In the middle of that we acquired a company here in Bedford called Touchcom. We bought Touchcom primarily for its software development capability, which is a product called OneFacility, which is a really interesting software-as-a-service model of a facility management system. They had pretty good market share in New York City in the high rise market and they were starting to spread the application out to other verticals." Jerry said G4S was a fan of the SaaS model and of the OneFacility product, specifically and so they bought the company and have been integrating operations ever since. Jerry said he was sent to Mass to scout locations for G4S' first US-based monitoring center. After a little shopping around, Jerry found the center's current location and said he couldn't be happier. "I found this facility and it's 30,000 square feet, and it's in this complex which is a 450 acre complex of all high-tech industries, so it's really kind of a neat area to be in. There's all kinds of hiking and biking trails, which is wonderful for our employees. And the landlord's wonderful. So I negotiated the lease, I went and found an architect and a contractor and we got to work." Jerry said one of the big deciding factors was the location's existing infrastructure. "The building had been previously occupied by a company called Dictaphone. It had been empty for about a year and a half. But it had certain things in place that were of value to me--it already had a generator, it already had a big UPS. They were in the technology and communications business so they had a lot of infrastructure here that lent itself to what we wanted to do. They already had huge chunks of fiber optic cable coming in. So we gutted the building and rebuilt the interior." Jerry said the center was complete and fully staffed and ready for 24/7/365 operation in April of 2009. Jerry talked a little bit about the center's back up and disaster recovery as well. "Our primary network line is fiber optic cable--it's called DS3 Line--and our backup is wireless. We've got a big dish on the roof that's line of sight to a tower and we have a dedicated antenna on that tower and our own dedicated, licensed frequency from the FCC and that acts as our backup. And then the tower is line of sight to the John Hancock Building. And we're just completing work on our disaster recover sight which is in Marlborough, Mass.--about 20 or 30 miles from here." Jerry took me on a full tour of the facility and I could hear the pride in his voice. "This center is my baby," Jerry said. "And I don't like it when people don't like my baby." Jerry said the problem with that type of attachment, however, was that his people came to him with everything. "A toilet backs up--go find Jerry," Jerry said with a laugh. "Bulb burns out--where's Jerry?" Jerry said he stopped short of scrubbing the scuffs off the walls in the halls with Mr. Clean magic erasers... but only just. Jerry also talked a lot about ongoing efforts to rebrand the world's largest security company. When asked if there were any big announcements on the horizon, he demurred. "G4S is rebranding itself in many ways. We were Group 4 Securicor, and then there's G4S and there's G4S Wackenhut and G4 Technology--over the next year that's all going to be changing. Everything is going to be G4S. We've got a new website up. The individual companies within G4S will no longer have their own identity. They will just be part of G4S. The tagline now is 'G4S: Secure solutions.' The idea is to take all of the capability we have within G4S--guarding, technology, investigative services--and apply them to a customer and be able to provide them with a total solution. And that means being able analyze all these component parts. So in the background, we'll continue to work in this real business intelligence model." Those of you going to ISC West can look for Jerry in Vegas. If you stay an extra day, you can even hop on a rented Harley and ride out into the desert with Jerry as part of SIA's Ride for Education.