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Exclusive interview: Getting back to business

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Rob Borsch, Signature Brands Practice Lead at Genetec discusses how the company is helping businesses to safely reopen.

The human and economic tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic are sure to be felt for many years to come. As countries and regions all over the world begin to emerge from their varying states of lockdown, it is imperative that businesses get back up and running again as quickly as possible in order to kickstart the global economy.

Understandably though, businesses will face restrictions to the way they operate to mitigate the threat of the virus resurfacing. This return to business phase has been named the “New Normal”. From a practical standpoint, these restrictions will include, limiting the number of people allowed in a facility at any one time, ensuring that all staff and visitors abide by social distancing guidelines and making sure that people are wearing face masks where necessary.

This has, of course, left many business owners looking for technological solutions to overcome these challenges that have been thrust upon them by the “New Normal”. Security vendors such as Genetec have consequently stepped up to the plate with a whole suite of solutions aimed at getting businesses reopened.

International Security Journal caught up with Rob Borsch, Signature Brands Practice Lead at Genetec, to discuss the new operational challenges that have been created by the pandemic and how the company is helping to defeat these.

Ahead of the field

According to the latest research from Omdia’s video surveillance and analytics intelligence service, Genetec Inc. continues to build its position as the world’s number one developer of video surveillance software with a widening share of the market. Overall, Genetec grew at three times the pace of the market and demonstrated the fastest growth of all leading software companies across all geographies (based on Omdia reported 2018 and 2019 data).

Borsch believes a significant factor which sets Genetec apart from the competition is the adaptability of its systems. He said: “What makes us primarily unique is our ability to scale. Scale meaning that we can easily incorporate hundreds of thousands of cameras into a system.”

According to Borsch, Genetec sees security through the prism of unification rather than integration. He explained: “A lot of other companies integrate systems, in other words, they can only speak to one another. We include it all on one platform, it is all truly programmed from the bottom up to be a unified solution. This helps us to create deep connections with our user community and the many different verticals we operate in.”

Opening the doors

Businesses across the globe are now cautiously reopening but they have tight restrictions to contend with. One of those constraints is based around controlling the number of people who enter a facility at any particular time. This is where Genetec can help with its Occupancy Management package.

Borsch described the key features of the solution: “The first primary feature is that it has the ability to count people in and out of any particular area. The second is then taking that information and being able to visualise it in a way which is easily understandable, allowing customers to prove their compliance with occupancy restrictions. The third is being able to take action from the occupancy numbers, having the capability to generate alerts and notifications should action need to be taken.”

There are numerous other solutions currently in the marketplace claiming to have similar qualities to the Genetec package. However, Borsch expands on the unique characteristics that have put the Genetec product ahead of the rest.

“One is Genetec is, by nature, an open architecture platform. We work with a lot of different sensors on a daily basis and the Occupancy Management package is no different.

“Currently we have five different analytics that can be used as an input into the system. One is owned by Genetec and we can also use analytics from partners such as Axis, Bosch, Quanergy and Hanwha. It opens up a lot more options and opportunities than a closed and proprietary system.”

He added: “The other unique capability that sets us apart is what we call the ‘event to action’. A lot of systems can count but when thresholds are reached, the Genetec system will do something about it. For example, if your building has an occupancy limit of 100 people, maybe you will want to generate a warning once you reach 90 people and a concrete action once you reach 100.

“Our ‘event to action’ capabilities allow those thresholds to trigger an automatic action, whether that be locking a door, generating an audible alarm or sending notifications to management. There are a lot of different things you can do with the system.”

Borsch revealed that one large grocery chain in the USA has already implemented the system and is seeing fantastic results. He said: “They have the Occupancy Management package operating in many stores now. They monitor the occupancy of all their stores from one central operations centre, they have relieved the local stores of the minute-to-minute concerns about occupancy.

“When that operations centre receives the first warning threshold that a particular store is nearing its limit, it immediately contacts the store manager and notifies them of the development. Once the limit is reached, another notification is sent informing the store manager that they need to start controlling the number of people entering the store. It is one of the larger and more unique installations of the technology that I am aware of.”

A whole suite of solutions

Looking past the Occupancy Management package, Genetec has also unveiled a number of other products designed to help business owners get back up and running. Borsch stated: “Mission Control is a product that helps to automate dynamic standard operating procedures, having an operating procedure from a dynamic input where you could go one of two ways on a decision tree.

“For example, it could help with employee screening. There will be a number of steps that need to be undertaken throughout the screening process before an employee is allowed to return to work. Mission Control can ensure the process is fully automated and that none of the steps are missed.”

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Genetec has also adapted its technology to include contact tracing capabilities. The company’s access control platform can produce a report detailing the recent areas any particular employee has visited and then automatically draw up a list of any other employees that may have come into close contact with the infected person. The firm has already installed a contagion proximity report in McCormick Convention Centre in Chicago that is available at no cost to any Genetec Synergis access control customer. It is experiencing high demand for its new portfolio from the retail, hospitality and higher education sectors in particular.

What comes next?

The new restrictions being created in response to COVID-19 have led to security vendors such as Genetec developing new and exciting innovations to help businesses and Borsch thinks that this may just be the beginning.

He believes that the next step forward for security technology will be to play a greater role in workflow management. He commented: “We are seeing increased focus on not just security but also safety, how can security and safety systems overlap and work well with each other?

“Automating workflows seems to be more important than ever, ensuring tasks are completed accurately and in line with the relevant compliance standards. This is going to be particularly critical when you think of tasks such as ensuring that all areas and assets are sanitised. We don’t know how long this rigour will be in place but we are completely focused on innovating our system to help with this during the post-pandemic era.”

Looking past its COVID-19 response solutions, Genetec continues to lead the way in the wider video surveillance software industry and Borsch concluded by providing an insight into some of the interesting developments that are taking place at the company.

“We have always designed a lot of our systems and new applications with the Cloud in mind and we are now seeing a significant migration in the physical security space to being Cloud ready. We are making big investments in our Cloud video management system, Stratocast as well as our cloud digital evidence collaboration system, Clearance. There are some really exciting advancements on the way.”

The next few months will undoubtedly prove to be challenging for businesses around the world. Maximising revenue will be imperative if they are to thrive in the post-pandemic era and the support of cutting-edge vendors such as Genetec will help them to achieve this. Let’s get back to business.

www.genetec.com

This article was published in the July 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy on the link here

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