Specifically Speaking with James Krile

Senior technology project manager at Heapy in Dayton, Ohio
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

What is your role and what kinds of systems do you design/specify including services you provide?

My primary roles include project management, design of information, communications and technology (ICT)/security systems, mentoring/training for ICT designers, and technical lead within the ICT practice center.

Heapy is a full service PMET design firm with additional services in commissioning, building optimization and energy modeling.

As senior technology project manager I design and manage all types of ICT systems including Structured Cabling, Networks, Wireless, Audio/Visual and Security.

Our ICT team is made up of 11 designers and engineers located in 3 of our 6 office locations.

What vertical markets does the company specialize in? Any interesting projects that you can mention?

For the company as a whole, our main verticals within the last 5 years have been government (local, municipal and DoD), Healthcare (private and Veterans Affairs), and education (equal split between K-12 and secondary). Additionally, within the ICT practice Center, the last 2 years have seen more work starting to develop in the Commercial and Detention Verticals.

One of our more recent projects was the design and implementation of security systems replacements for the Incarceration Facility and Downtown Jail for Miami County of Ohio. In addition to the design, we provided full construction administration services during the nine-month construction period and enhanced functional testing at the completion of the project.

The project included the replacement of the existing PLC door control system, a new Detention Electronics system with touchscreens in the Command Centers, a replacement and expansion of the existing Detention Intercom System to bring the Downtown Jail facility up to PREA Compliance (Prison Rape Elimination Act), a replacement and expansion of the existing video surveillance system and a new security network including fiber backbones, core and edge switching.

One of the tools that our practice group has developed over the last several years, that we made extensive use of for this project, are custom families within Autodesk REVIT that provides 3D renderings of CCTV camera coverage.

How did you get started in security and designing/specifying?

I started at Heapy in 1988 as a co-op student while working on my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Wright State University in Dayton Ohio. After I graduated in 1993, I became a full time Electrical Engineer at Heapy, designing power and lighting systems for building projects. In the late ’90s, there was a major initiative by the state of Ohio to use the tobacco settlement money to consolidate and re-built all 4,000 public school buildings.

As part of that initiative, the schools would be provided with state of the art ICT and security systems. As I got involved doing the electrical designs on these projects, I realized that there was a missing opportunity for Heapy, given that the company did not offer ICT and security systems design services. I made a proposal to the partners and requested that I be allowed to start an ICT design department within Heapy to capitalize on what I saw was going to become a great addition to our company’s very successful design portfolio.

With their help, and many others within the firm and within the industry, I started a new career designing ICT and security systems. I joined organizations such as BICSI, ASIS, Avixa (InfoComm) and others, spent countless hours of my own time researching, learning, studying and understanding how these systems work, and how to design/specify them in building projects. Something that has not ceased to this day. That is one thing I love about this industry, you have to always be learning. Since that initial beginning, I have worked with many talented people to build the ICT group within Heapy from being a one-man-band in the late 90s to now having almost a dozen design professionals, working in 3 different offices.

Can you talk about what new or emerging technologies you are seeing or specifying today?

I In my opinion, the most important technology today, and it crosses almost all industries is Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. These technologies have the ability to not only revolutionize the way we design systems, but to also fundamentally change how we think about these systems and how they are implemented. For example, a simple security camera is not just a monitoring and forensic device, it is now a device to provide a whole host of important metrics about your facility in real time. Metrics such as how many people have come and gone through a certain door, have there been unexpected delays (people stalled) at a certain door (perhaps there is a malfunction at that door), unexpected occupants (facial recognition), unusual behavior (running in a hallway, person collapsed on the floor), etc. I believe this technology alone has the ability, once fully harnessed, to be a force multiplier in ways that is hard to over estimate.

A second technology is not so much being specified as it is having to be addressed by specifications. That is the topic of Cyber Security. With more and more systems becoming network facing, the potential for harm to individuals, and companies by cyber attacks is growing at an exponential pace. When you couple that with the metadata of AI and deep learning, there is an enormously large pool of information that is going to be generated that could become very destructive in the wrong hands. With IP enabled devices having more and more processing power and capabilities, cyber attacks could leverage devices to perform destructive tasks from within the network, by devices already trusted by that network.

What does this mean for our industry, for the designers and engineers of ICT and security systems? I believe we will have to adapt by greatly expanding our core competencies to now include network, cyber security, and AI/Deep Learning specializations. For some of us, that might mean new education, new credentials. For others, that might mean reaching out to somewhat new sources of recruiting such as Computer Engineering majors and network security experts.

What is your view on the industry moving forward?

I think that the next 3-5 years are going to prove to be a very trying time for some in this industry. There are going to be new technologies and new challenges that will have to be faced head on, and that likely will mean that the way you used to design ICT and security systems will forever change. I have been around long enough to have witnessed multiple “paradigm” shifts in the security market.
Just look at video surveillance for example. The move from analog cameras, connected with a coax cable and a 18/2 power wire, recorded on a time lapse VCR changed to a data drop and a “digital Recorder” with hard drives. And it didn’t happen without some “bumps” in the road. Previous inherent limitations such as frame rate and storage were essentially nullified compared to what they used to be. Bandwidth and storage became “cheap”. This unleashed the tsunami of video resolution upgrades that shows no sign of slowing down. The network element also meant that, as long as you had access to the network, any device could be anywhere, and you were no longer tied to cabling every camera back to a central location.

We also had the first generation of video analytics that promised much, but fell short on delivery. I think many of us remember that lesson as we look at the “new and improved” AI/Video Analytics and we are a little gun shy about embracing this.

In the end, as technology evolves, we must use what we have learned, what we know, and dedicate ourselves to learning, growing, and expanding so that we can be part of helping to shape the future of this industry. The end result of that is that we will be in the best position to offer our clients solutions that truly work for them.
                           
Specifically Speaking, a Security Systems News monthly column, features Q-and-A with a security consultant provided to SSN by SecuritySpecifiers.