On Tuesday, I moderated a discussion in Cambridge, Mass. with MIT security director Tom Komola; Cambridge Public Schools security director John Silva; Brad Baker, president of Quincy, Mass.-based integration firm FTG Security; and two technology providers, Jumbi Edelbehram of Oncam Grandeye; and Jacob Hauzen of Genetec. The event is designed to create a dialogue about the risks that today's educational facilities face and how those risks can be mitigated. We had a few introductory slides to start the event including the one below, which really illustrated the importance of these kinds of discussions.
The map above shows locations of school shootings in the United States in the past year. The red tags are shootings with multiple fatalities; the yellow tags are shooting with one or no fatalities. One year.
We had a great discussion about the challenges of securing a world class university like MIT and how that task is similar in some ways and very different in others to securing a large, diverse urban school system like the Cambridge Public Schools. Komola and Silva both talked about the importance of collaboration with different department and entities inside and outside of their schools.
In addition to working with school administration and staff, Silva's team works closely several local- and state public health and safety departments to coordinate the best security program for 14 different schools. The team also works closely with the city council and school committee. Technology is relatively new in his security program. Four years ago, Silva didn't have any cameras in the schools. Today, he has more than a hundred cameras, mostly thanks to government grants, and more camera and access control are planned. His challenges, like most public school districts, include resources, both financial and in terms of staff. He also has to keep parents and the community informed about how the security measures benefit students and staff.
Silva's program may be just getting started in terms of technology, but it's highly organized and many-layered, and far ahead of most public school systems of comparable size in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In comparison to a K-12 public school, MIT has many resources, financial and otherwise. However, Komola points out that his security program has scaled very quickly. Seven years ago he had a couple hundred cameras. Today, he has more than 1,800. Komola stands out among security directors that I've talked to in the past in that he said he has a "great relationship with the MIT IT department." The two departments collaborate daily and support each other in getting tech projects planned and implemented. Moreover, Komola said it's been that way since they started the security technology program years ago. Perhaps the key to that working relationship is that both security and IT report the same executive (the highest ranking non-academic exec at MIT) and they're expected to work together.
Komola told a funny story about MIT students hacking an access control system. Fortunately, the students then showed him where the weakness in the system existed, so he could correct it.
FTG's Brad Baker talked about how integrators know that the success of projects ride on IT and security working together effectively. Early on in meeting with customers, he "takes the temperature" of the customer's IT deparment to see "how they feel about physical security." He's fortunate, he said, that FTG's sister company, FTG Technnologies, is a telecom solution provider. This is something that makes an end user's IT folks comfortable.
What's on the Komola and Silva's technology wish lists? Komola said he wants analytics and smart cameras. "I'm looking for technology that does the work, that's foolproof." Silva is also interested in smart tech, but he also needs "the budget to cover it."
Asked about where technology is going, Oncam's Edulbehram talked about the growing importance of analytic alerts for access control and video. Mobility--being able to access security system information from your phone or other device--is equally important. It's critical, he said, to have "mobile apps across the board for security systems." He also said that cloud technology is the wave of the future.
Genetec's Jarrod Fullerton echoed that sentiment. Big data, from video and other sensors, needs to be processed, and "the only place that can analyze all that data is a big private data center or the public cloud."
The event also included some cool technology demos from Oncam Grandeye and Genetec. Oncam makes 360-degree cameras. The cameras take a photo-in-the-round that looks like a normal fisheye shot, but the cool thing is seeing different elements of the photo "dewarped", straightened out so it looks like a normal photo.
Tuesday's event was the first of three OnCampus Security Symposiums. Two more events are planned: one in Chicago and one in San Jose, Calif.