Sharing the vision of AMAG SES20

Symposium enhanced relationships, inspired creative thinking, emphasized partnerships and more
 - 
Friday, March 13, 2020

SAN DIEGO, Calif.—Polishing off the month of February, AMAG Technology held their 20th annual Security Engineering Symposium (SES), focused on developing relationships, creative thinking and earning education credits, all under the theme of “Share the Vision” via open discussions, panels, interactive presentations, speakers and networking opportunities. 

AMAG staff, sponsors and attendees who all gathered at the Pendry in San Diego, the 21st-24th were welcomed by AMAG President Howard Johnson who asked everyone to “engage and give us frank and honest information so we can improve.” 

Strategy, intent and goals

Starting off the symposium, John Kenning, CEO, G4S, America took the stage to discuss their integrated security solutions strategy. He explained that the security part of their business is a separate entity that is “focused deep and hard on security providing best quality, capability and value to all.” 

In order to do this, global partnerships and integrations are a must. 

“The goal in the next five years is to ensure every officer is connected” that that they can “communicate and create a force,” explained Kenning. 

Adding to this, Johnson highlighted AMAG’s customer centric approach in “reducing risk, adding value and helping with compliance of changing regulations and technologies, with innovation being key.” 

By innovation, data takes center stage. It’s difficult to analyze data if what the perpetrator did is the only known information. “With ML and AI, we can learn and prevent future incidents,” said Johnson.

Technology vision

With zettabytes of data being produced, somewhere within is value, usable information, and by embracing and driving open standards, AMAG’s goal is to show end users the value of the data they already have. To do so, it’s all about understanding what end users want, need and will use. 

“Data can show things you weren’t looking for,” Jonathan Moore, product director, hosted solutions, AMAG explained. “For example, a janitor has access to a set of cabinets, but it’s really not necessary because it increases risk of theft or giving access to intellectual property. Another example is employees coming into an office at weird times, before and after work hours. Why? What are they doing?” 

Being able to analyze data helps further to protect infrastructure, facilities and people; therefore, AMAG is focused on embracing these moments, analyzing the data and producing usable information to end users with their product, Symmetry. “With Symmetry, we’re focused on small updates and releases that are available quicker, getting more features out and doing housecleaning in the background,” Moore said. 

Highlighted at the symposium was the integration of ServiceNow for a smarter workflow; working with the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance’s (PSIA) Physical Logical Access Interoperability (PLIA) specification; and Symmetry Mobile for enhanced business intelligence. The new mobile app is a centralized mobile solution offering mobile credentials with a scannable QR code is coming soon. 

The empowered intel panel 

Consisting of company representatives from AMAG, ASSA ABLOY and Zenitel, in addition to end user, Boston Properties’ Sue Ko, director of IT services and security consultant, Mohammad Shehzad with Atriade, the panel discussed pertinent industry hot topics within interoperability, data, compliance, workflow, biometrics and authentication, and video analytics. 

Specific to data, Shehzad pointed out, “Data means something different to everyone.” 

Ko agreed and added: “End users have so much data that they don’t know how to use it. Data must be useful; it must tell a story. Data becomes information that provides knowledge that becomes wisdom.”

“What story do you want to tell with your data?” Ko asked the audience. 

The discussion moved into the realm of biometrics in which panelists bantered if artificial intelligence (AI) would replace engineers and their ability to write code. Dan Rothrock of Zenitel indicated the “need to move from complicated APIs to a simple app onto neural learning to create connections.” 

The discussion moved into which generations creates a barrier to entry into biometrics and why. 

“Generation X and Baby Boomers want things to be easy,” explained Shehzad. “Generation X and Baby Boomers hold the ‘purse strings’ for biometrics, not Millennials; therefore, this creates a barrier to entry.”

In addition, user experience is key to biometric usage, as people seek instant gratification.

“Providing this [instant gratification] in a highly security environment is where the security industry has huge opportunities,” Mark Duato, ASSA ABLOY, said.

No matter what, security companies must stay relevant to survive. Risks are shifting within work spaces due to the increased ability of staff to move freely within the space while protecting intellectual and personal property by using biometrics. 

“Anytime [a company] goes from cardless to biometric access, it must constantly plan, engage and test to understand the culture of the space with frictionless movement within each type of facility, all while establishing a culture of safety and security with all employees,” explained Shehzad. 

And, of course, compliance is always lurking around with any security-related deployment; however, Rothrock said that compliance doesn’t not present disadvantages, but opportunities.

The panelists all agreed that AI and machine learning (ML) will affect workflow and access, but in positive ways. While AI doesn’t replace humans and human intelligence, it does enhance, help, assist and expand it.

“AI will give us a more dynamic view of risk,” Johnson said. “AI gives opportunities that we didn’t have without it by giving insights [data].” 

Trends identified throughout the discussion included hot desking; managing open, frictionless spaces; and staying secure. 

“We depend on the security industry to be ‘open’ because everything is an end point or sensor,” Ko said, concluding the panel discussion, encouraging companies to “work together to consolidate and make data work for end users.” 

The human element

People tend to get lost in the shuffle of terabyte after petabyte after exabyte after zettabyte and onto yottabytes of created data. It’s difficult for end users to know and understand the data itself, and that’s in addition to trying to make sense of what data is valuable, how it’s valuable and how to use it to make it valuable. 

“End users are trying to find value out of the ‘data noise’ as so much data is being generated and collected,” Johnson said. 

He, therefore, believes analytics is the most exciting new technology available and being deployed within the security industry. To make this technology available and usable to end users, easy deployment of systems, documentation and compliance are of upmost importance. 

“Integration is a huge problem in our industry,” Johnson concluded, posing three specific questions of manufacturers, consultants and resellers to the audience:

  • How can we all work together?
  • What’s the value in all three working together? 
  • Who’s responsibility is it to ensure the end user is happy and stays happy?

On the hunt

Dan Bissmeyer, business development manager, AMAG Technology took the stage for an engaging talk about actively hunting/going after potential threats, which is a risk-based approach to security. The key is not to move onto an actual threat because once it’s classified as such, it’s already in action in motion.

“Most security systems are set up to just be monitors,” Bissmeyer explained. “If your whole security system just identifies threats and responds immediately, it’s just monitoring.” 

And, the sad truth is that monitoring is what most expect. 

“Security monitoring is what most professionals expect because this is ‘industry standard,’ Bissmeyer said. “The ‘industry standard’ should be thinking ahead, identifying risks ahead of threats.”

To get ahead, he suggested using data via open source intelligence specific to your business with the following process: 1. Find the data and pull it in. 2. Have the right means to collect and use data. 3. Partner with legal/HR departments for privacy concerns. 4. Ensure systems interoperate because data comes from different places, so all systems must work together seamlessly to aggregate data. 5. Train people within the organization to give early indications of potential risks. 

“CEOs must be onboard with any security program,” Bissmeyer said. “AMAG is one piece of the puzzle to help think along the line of a risk-based approach. Not one technology will do all things, so partnerships are key.”

Overall, organizations should commit to a risk-based approach; understand data and how to use it; and be on the offensive all the time, never the defensive.
The grand finale 

As SES20 came to a close, partners and attendees gathered and were invited to give feedback in an open forum type of setting, before heading out for activities. Shared feedback included focusing on making spaces secure while improving the end user experience; embracing change in the security industry, not fighting against it; and coming together regularly in an openly collaborative environment to share. 

An inspiring part of SES20 was the fundraiser dinner for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital hosted by G4S and AMAG before everyone parted ways the following day. Almost $33,000 was raised at the closing of the dinner, with both AMAG and G4S matching attendee donations.