International Security Journal hears from Alex Asnovich, Head of Global Marketing for Motorola Solutions’ Video Security and Analytics business.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a number of unexpected challenges at organisations of all shapes and sizes. The rapid pace with which the virus swept across the globe caught many businesses off guard and resulted in the worst economic downturn for generations.
The FTSE saw its biggest quarterly drop since 1987 in the first three months of 2020 and in the US, more than 30 million people filed for unemployment in the six weeks up until the end of April. These are immensely volatile times and have resulted in vendors having to urgently adapt their business plans to cope with the crisis.
One such vendor is Motorola Solutions, the global provider of mission critical communications solutions, boasting over 100,000 customers in more than 100 countries. The company reacted swiftly to the crisis and released a statement in March detailing some of the measures it was taking to combat the pandemic, including implementing remote working for employees wherever possible and instructing workers to avoid in-person meetings and gatherings.
To find out more about how the firm is dealing with the current trading circumstances, International Security Journal spoke with Alex Asnovich, Head of Global Marketing for Motorola Solutions’ Video Security and Analytics business, which includes the Avigilon, WatchGuard and Vigilant brands.
Meeting the needs of the customer
Founded in 1928, Motorola Solutions has built its stellar reputation on being able to provide customers with reliable and innovative products. Asnovich described how the comprehensive nature of the solutions makes the company stand out from the competition: “Motorola Solutions’ competitive advantage is our end-to-end suite, where we are able to provide our customers with unique integrations between our video security, software and mission-critical communications products that provide them with better insights and advanced capabilities.”
To paint a picture of how these solutions are utilised in a real-world environment, Asnovich used the example of how a school could enhance its security with the help of Motorola Solutions. He said: “A school can employ our technologies to create a robust security system that works to keep students and staff safe throughout the entire campus.
“License Plate Recognition (LPR) detection situated around the campus’ perimeter can alert a school resource officer to direct their attention to the camera feed, such as when someone who is not allowed on the premises is trying to enter.”
Asnovich continued: “Through Avigilon Control Center (ACC), security officers can receive alerts via voice or text to their MOTOTRBO device to better understand and investigate incidents. If a child goes missing, the school is able to use Appearance Search to track the child’s past movements across the campus to determine where they might have gone.”
It is through the ability to provide a customer with a full ecosystem that comprehensively addresses their specific security needs that the company differentiates itself from its competitors. The expert understanding of a customer’s requirements is also why the firm was quick to spot the changing demands of the market once the full impact of COVID-19 began to be felt.
The return to work
The world that awaits us post-COVID-19 will be dramatically different to the one that we were used to before the virus hit. ‘The New Normal’ as it’s been termed, will involve strict social distancing measures, contact tracing and regular temperature monitoring.
Asnovich believes that security vendors have got a hugely important role to play in supporting organisations as they return to work safely: “At Motorola Solutions our customers have told us that, as they consider their plans to re-open, they are looking for our help on how to use technology to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of their employees and customers is maintained when they re-enter the workplace.
“As a result, we have introduced a number of new capabilities that are continuing to enable our users to make better informed decisions so that they can respond to events proactively. These applications are extraordinarily important right now, given that we are working to mitigate the potential impacts of COVID-19.”
Taking a closer look at the aforementioned additions to the video security and analytics portfolio, it is truly heartening to realise what a positive impact the products will have on safety and security during these difficult times.
The various technologies enable contact tracing, face mask detection and accurate skin temperature monitoring. Asnovich revealed some more in-depth details about the solutions: “A few of the solutions that we are developing include contact tracing, which uses the new Exposure Reporting Tool through our Access Control Manager to inventory all of the doors touched by an infected person and show whether others may have come in contact with the same door during a specified time frame”.
“Secondly, face mask detection, which uses video analytics through ACC to detect whether individuals are wearing face masks, generates automated alerts as well as enterprise-wide reports that are aggregated as statistical analysis to help employers identify hot spots in their organizations quickly and accurately”
The capabilities do not stop there, he added: “Another analytic capability that we are introducing is to ensure social distancing measures are being adhered to on a premises, where video analytics embedded within the H5A camera will automatically calculate distances between all individuals within its field of view. We also currently offer body-worn cameras that may be equipped on essential service workers, or first responders, to assist in de-escalating incidents and capturing evidential footage of incidents where customers exhibit aggressive behaviour.
“Finally, one area where we are focusing is in detecting body temperature, where security-grade thermal cameras, coupled with a “black body” device, can act as a reference point for a base-line temperature reading, they can read the thermal signatures of a person’s body temperature which may be an indicator of a fever.”
Such a comprehensive suite of video security services is sure to have a wide range of applications. Asnovich envisions the social distancing solution being used in a retail store to identify choke points where people are often getting too close to each other. Additionally, the face mask detection analytics could be utilised within a manufacturing plant to identify that team members are putting their protective masks on after they have entered the premises and therefore enabling the management team to communicate that they should be wearing face masks before entering the plant.
Change of plan
For Asnovich personally, a marketing professional with over twenty years of experience and a decade in the security industry, the pandemic has caused some unforeseen challenges in the execution of his marketing strategy.
The cancellation of the majority of global trade shows and the instruction to avoid all in-person meetings meant Asnovich and his team had to urgently rethink their plans. He said: “When we saw the impact of the pandemic continuing to spread across the globe, we knew we needed to act fast. We withdrew from ISC West early and quickly pivoted to host Motorola Solutions’ first-ever virtual showcase, an event which had an incredible turn out with over 3,000 attendees and more than 12,000 demos provided.
“Since then we have continued to host our marketing initiatives in a virtual setting and will continue to find creative ways to support our customers while prioritising the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers at all times.”
On the subject of the return of physical trade shows, Asnovich thinks it is important to strike the “right balance” between virtual events and traditional shows in the future.
This may be something that Asnovich has to weave into the future plans of Motorola Solutions, along with the introduction of further technologies and analytics services. He concluded: “This pandemic is shaping the security needs of business and communities now and for the foreseeable future.
“First, we will make these solutions, that are dedicated to helping businesses get back on their feet, available throughout Q3 of this year. From there we will continue to introduce technologies that help manage the avalanche of data that agencies are challenged with reviewing. Many still continue to rely on manual, time-consuming processes to extract data and formulate insights.
“On top of that, people have short attention spans. Through the use of artificial intelligence and analytics, we will help our customers make watching live video obsolete while delivering the insights they need to drive meaningful change.”
With lockdowns being eased at varying rates around the world and a “new normal” beginning to take effect, organisations are looking for adaptable and reliable security providers to help them cope with these new circumstances. Alex Asnovich and the team at Motorola Solutions are certainly ready for the call.
This article was published in the June 2020 edition of International Security Journal. To pick up your FREE digital copy of the magazine, please click here