Specifically Speaking with Andrei L. Ivan

Physical Security manager at 1898 and Co., a part of Burns & McDonnell
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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

What is your role at the company?
As a Physical Security Manager, also known as a Section Manager, I am responsible for personnel management (development/training, staffing, communications, etc.) of a functional group of security consultants.

I am overall responsible for the direction and leadership of a section of 11 personnel. Areas of responsibility include general roles supporting the overall department/division and specific roles relative to the section, which include but are not limited to: recruitment, development, training and retention of section personnel, assignment of work and monitoring of staff workloads, and providing technical direction to the section, to name a few. This position is both a team management position as well as client-facing, subject matter expert in their field.

What kinds of systems do you design/specify and what services does the company provide?
1898 & Co. (a part of Burns & McDonnell) provides future-focused consulting and technology solutions that deliver on clients’ most challenging problems. 1898 & Co. offers clients technology solutions and advisory consulting services including Business Optimization & Strategic Asset Planning, Digital Transformation & Software Solution Development, and Security & Compliance which is the department my Physical Security Consulting Section is aligned under. As threats to physical assets of our clients’ businesses continue to evolve, our section brings insights to build a systematic, structured, and holistic approach to risk management that meets needs while being cost-effective.

The majority of security systems and technology designed by our section generally revolve around the physical protection of electrical utility assets and are closely aligned with our clients’ needs in the Transmission and Distribution spaces. However, the breadth of our service offerings goes well beyond the electrical utility space, and at their core they are driven by two factors: Compliance with mandated regulations or risk-based security consulting services. They involve strategy services, advisory services, technology implementation, and training and awareness.

What vertical markets does the company specialize in? Any interesting projects?
Arguably our main focus is providing security consulting and technical services in the Power and the Transmission and Distribution spaces. However, we provided services to clients in the Oil, Gas, and Chemical spaces, as well as in Healthcare, Water, Higher Education, Military, Government & Municipal, and Nuclear verticals. My personal favorite projects are driven by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation critical infrastructure protection (NERC-CIP) requirement 014. Regulatory mandated due to the April 2013 rifle attack of the Metcalf Substation in California, these complex projects employ a myriad of stakeholders and require a deep level of critical thinking and a keen understanding of ballistics, explosives and military-like assault tactics in order to devise and implement the necessary and correct hardening measures and other security plans.

How did you get started in security and designing/specifying?
I served in the military for 24 years prior to joining the Physical Security Consulting section. One of my most crucial duties performed over the decades was that of understanding the threats we were facing and building defensive positions for my personnel and our equipment that included the implementation of physical and electronic technology solutions, and correctly hardening our posture to be able to withstand sustained, dynamic attacks.

Additionally, I chose to study Homeland Security and Business & Organizational Security Management for my Undergrad and Master’s. After the military, at Burns & McDonnell, I was very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of very talented folks with extensive security consulting experience and other backgrounds in engineering, low-voltage design, system integration, law enforcement, ground-based radar applications, and cyber, to name a few. I am still learning a lot from this phenomenal team of professionals!

Can you talk about what new or emerging technologies you are seeing or specifying today?
We are noticing an increase in functionality, automation and integration in security systems across industries. New cameras are demonstrating a multitude of functions that decrease overall system costs, and increase functionality, allowing security practitioners to do more with their budgets. Specific advances in video systems include advanced analytics which provide new capabilities from intrusion detection to video review and facial recognition. Multi-lens cameras that allow operators to view much more area without significantly increasing costs or infrastructure, stitched imagery that produces much wider angles then previously possible, and long range IR illumination allowing low-light cameras to see with no ambient light source beyond 1000 feet in some cases.

Access control is becoming much more cost effective by employing simplified power sources, reducing head-end and auxiliary equipment, and in some cases moving to cloud based systems and integrating Bluetooth technology. Also, of note is the use of intelligent keys that provide greater control and awareness then traditional keys and it is done at a fraction of the cost of traditional card reader based access control. Finally, ground based radar (GBR) applications seem to be expanding as new threats emerge, such as drones, with new manufactures entering the market allowing the costs to decrease.

What is your view on the industry moving forward?
I personally, and somewhat regrettably, believe that in most cases physical security remains a reactive-type industry, despite the relentless attempt of security professionals to elevate its importance on the executives’ agendas and posture it in such a way that would make it a proactive item on everyone’s mind, from the CEOs to the newest intern.
Security professionals, particularly consultants, must continue to showcase the industry’s importance whether it is to their bosses or to their clients, and continue to find creative and budgetary-conscious ways to express and highlight the importance of hardening and improving the security posture across our Nation prior to a malevolent event occurring, or having the correct mitigating measures in place to minimize its impact to the lowest level possible if its occurrence proves unavoidable. ssn

Specifically Speaking, a Security Systems News monthly column, features Q-and-A with a security consultant provided to SSN by SecuritySpecifiers.