Specifically Speaking with John E. Harrington

President of Red Hill Security Consulting
Monday, January 19, 2015

You launched your consulting business four years ago, what vertical markets do you work in and what types of systems do you design?

Because of our proximity to the Boston area, we work with many bio-pharmaceutical companies and colleges/universities. We also support Westinghouse Electric globally so I spend a fair amount of time in the greater Pittsburgh area and at any of Westinghouse’s other 60 sites. Most of our projects involve the design and engineering of integrated security management systems (access/ video/intercom/intrusion). We also design security command and control rooms. Regardless of the vertical, the part of my job that I truly enjoy is educating our clients. There is no better question to answer than “why are we …?”

What interesting projects are you currently working on?

We are in the construction administration phase of a security upgrade project at the Burlington International Airport (BTV) in Vermont, partnered with TSG Solutions and Aviation Security Consulting. The solution includes technology from AMAG, Exacqvision, Innometriks, HID and Axis. We are also working on a 300,000-square-foot life sciences building being constructed in Cambridge, Mass., for Takeda. As has been the case with our last three bio-pharm projects, there is both a core/shell and tenant improvement design team, which always makes hardware and system coordination interesting. I also just joined the SIA MasterFormat Working Group that will be assisting in developing updated standards and specifications for our industry.

Is there any kind of security technology (new or not-so-new) that you’re using more of these days?

We have fully embraced IP video. While the technology is not new, the performance has improved greatly over the past few years. We are now using more 180- and 360-degree 5 megapixel cameras and applying analytics to them. The combination of having more available pixels on target and better analytic algorithms has made this technology far more effective than it had been in the analog and early IP era. We are also designing solutions that include the use of three form-factor biometric readers. Finally, we are using thermal cameras integrated with analytics to form virtual perimeter fence lines.

What’s your opinion of PSIM?

I believe that PSIMs have their place in the security world, although we have yet to deploy a solution that includes them. Full PSIM solutions, while costly, make a lot of sense when working with merged companies to pull their often disparate security management systems together under one GUI. Many clients have expressed interest in PSIMs, however, when we present our cost estimates, we have not been able to support them through cost-benefit analysis, primarily because they only have one system deployed. I would like to see a lighter PSIM solution that would provide process flow in the security command center. By this, I mean a different response flowchart that is displayed upon activation of varying types of alarms. As the control center operator moves through the response flow chart, policies and/or procedures would be displayed electronically along with video and any other information that would assist the control center operator. Upon completion of the alarm response, the operator would be able to press one button and easily package up a concise incident report for delivery to the security management team.