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Specifically Speaking turns 10, CONSULT this week

Specifically Speaking turns 10, CONSULT this week Security Systems News has partnered with SecuritySpecifiers to profile 130 consultants

Specifically Speaking turns 10, CONSULT this month

YARMOUTH, Maine—Each month since December 2010, Security Systems News has partnered with SecuritySpecifiers to bring you the Specifically Speaking column. Since that time, we have introduced you to more than 130 security consultants, who have provided their backgrounds, perspectives and insights into their own roles and into the industry in general.

The very first column featured Phil Santore and Brian Coulombe of DVS (now part of Ross & Baruzzini) who discussed their work on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan. Now, we mark the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

SSN Editor Paul Ragusa has asked me in this column to discuss the evolution of our effort to heighten the visibility and understanding of security consultants in our industry and the role that SecuritySpecifiers, founded in 2010, has played.

For many, security design consultants have represented one of the least well understood sectors of the industry. However, their role is critical in that most large systems employ some manner of risk and threat assessment leading to a project specification. As a result, system designers have the responsibility of being current of the range of technical solutions available to meet the needs of their clients.  Manufacturers should be educating them on their own unique solutions and providing them with design tools where appropriate. Integrators can provide important insights into what works well, and where. End users and architects should be able to determine the skill levels of prospective consultants  and their ability to meet the needs of specific projects. Hopefully, Specifically Speaking has helped to move the needle for all.

I’ve noticed a few things over the years, and SecuritySpecifiers has tried to address those. One is the general lack of understanding of the construction specification process. The Construction Specification Institute (CSI) exists to bring understanding and discipline to this process, including one of the most valuable certifications I have taken, the Construction Document Technology (CDT) certification. CSI’s MasterFormat is a numerical hierarchy of construction products and services which creates a framework for assembling construction specification. MasterFormat is organized into Divisions, including Division 28, Electronic Safety and Security. In 2015-2016, SecuritySpecifiers and SIA led an industry effort to totally revamp the content of Division 28 to bring it up to the current state of security technology.


Another area of interest has been the limited opportunities for true consultant-focused education of a non-biased nature. That’s why I began the CONSULT Technical Security Symposium. Initiated in 2017, CONSULT is structured to offer content solely and squarely focused on the educational and interactive needs of the security design consultant. Many of the topics dealt with at CONSULT, while important to the security designer, are simply not dealt with in other venues. BICSI, ASIS, and SIA have all approved CONSULT sessions for continuing education credits.  Once again, after  year's COVID-induced hiatus, I am pleased to announce that CONSULT 2021, the industry's premiere event for the security design community, will take place in person on October 23-26 in San Antonio. (By necessity, the event is invitation only.)

CONSULT’s sessions have been structured to give everyone, consultants, integrators and manufacturers alike, a wide variety of choices of topics to hear about. Many sessions have been structured as breakout track sessions not only to achieve variety, but also to create an interactive environment where participants can challenge existing thinking. Several of this year’s sessions are:

  • Is Cloud Video Ready to Specify?
  • AI – Today’s reality in Security
  • Towards a More Secure Identity
  • Why Integrators May Not Bid Your Project

The CONSULT 2021 keynote by Shawn Henry, President of CrowdStrike Services, will address nation-state and supply chain cyber security. Shawn has been seen on NBC, SIA’s Securing New ground, and other important venues. Shawn’s keynote continues the trend of presenting timely and useful cyber related topics at the symposium.

All consultants endure time limitations and day-day project pressures that create difficulty in accessing timely information to support the specification process. With those time limitations, it’s challenging to meet with as many manufacturers as they would like and difficult to share professional concerns with peers outside the company. Further, opportunities for non-project interaction with integrators are constrained.  From the supplier viewpoint, manufacturers are challenged with creating venues where they can interact with consultants on a prolonged and productive basis, particularly with budget and people resource limitations. CONSULT continues to fill the need in the security industry for manufacturers, integrators, and consultants to meaningfully interact; to better understand security technologies, trends, and techniques as they impact security consultants; and to create an environment for the development of valuable relationships.

One of the highlights of CONSULT is the presentation of the Elliot A. Boxerbaum Award for Security Design Project of the Year. This unique award is in memory of a man whose career was devoted to security and whose expertise in security design was achieved through the company he founded, Security Risk Management Consultants. The award was established to bring recognition for excellence in security design.

Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning the Security Industry Cyber Certification (SICC). Discussed conceptually at CONSULT 2019, with much work by industry experts since then, the SICC was formally rolled out by SIA in June. The SICC addresses the glaring need for a cyber qualification aimed at security technicians who install network-connected systems and components. Course preparation review content is currently in the pipeline with SIA and PSA. It is our hope that project specifications will begin to emerge with this certification contained within the Contractor Qualifications section. This can only help to move towards the goal of more cyber secure systems and reduced cyber liability for all.

I thank Security Systems News for the opportunity to discuss this with all of you and to allow us to continue introducing you to a new consultant every month.


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