CONSULT 2018 spotlights collaboration in the security industry

Nov. 9, 2018
Security consultants interact with systems integrators and vendors to move the security industry forward

Close to 100 of the country’s top consultants and leading A&E firms joined more than 25 solutions providers in Nashville, Tenn. this week for the second annual CONSULT Technical Security Symposium, as host Ray Coulombe and his event team again brought together the industry’s most forward-thinking professionals to discuss everything from structured cable and project management to cannabis industry security and cybersecurity.

The highlight of the symposium was presentation of the annual Elliot A. Boxerbaum Memorial Award, which is presented to a consulting or engineering company that designed and specified a completed security design project, accepted by the client in 2017 or Q1 2018 and exemplifies the essence of collaboration, design excellence, uniqueness and creativity that contribute to a highly successful security project. The award is named for the late Elliot A. Boxerbaum, MA, CPP, CSC, founder and president of Security Risk Management Consultants, Inc. Elliot passed away in June 2014, from ALS, and, on behalf of the award-winning firm, a donation is being made to the Central & Southern Ohio Chapter of the  ALS Association by SecuritySpecifiers and CONSULT 2018.

The winning submission for 2018 came from DVS, a division of Ross & Baruzzini, for the expansive Detroit Little Caesars Arena and the surrounding area referred to as “The Detroit District”, which is a 50-city block development encompassing world-class sports and entertainment facilities, six theaters and performing arts centers in addition to five neighborhoods. The Little Caesars Arena is the 785,000-square-foot home of the NHL’s Red Wings and the Pistons of the NBA. DVS worked alongside systems integrator Identify, Inc. and client Olympia Development of Michigan.

It was my honor to present the award to Jeremy Zweeres, a Principal with DVS and the main project manager for this job.

Since the Little Caesars arena was designed to serve multiple venues, the security program required the review and application of standards from several sanctioning bodies.  In that regard, some of the adopted security program elements are from the following:

  • DHS, Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA)
  • UL 827 Central Station Alarm Services
  • Recommendations from the National Hockey League (NHL)
  • Recommendations from the National Basketball Association (NBA)
  • Recommendations from the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis

Aside from the arena proper, the security program needed to support ancillary facilities such as the parking garage, major streets adjacent to the arena, retail shops, and offices.  In order to meet the client’s need as well as the recommendations, DVS worked with multiple design team disciplines to ensure the coordination and inclusion of A&E components into the overall security program.  This required an innovative approach with respect to the multiple electronic systems not only rooted in security but those systems service administration, marketing, life safety, visual paging, and parking.  

Utilizing state-of-the-art security system components, DVS was able to integrate multiple systems into user-friendly systems platforms which are managed by the Arena’s security staff to include a campus-wide umbrella of video surveillance, access control, parking management, and communications.

The entire Little Caesars and Detroit District project will be featured as the cover story in the upcoming December issues of both Security Technology Executive and Security Dealer & Integrator magazines.

From a content perspective, the symposium had a little bit of everything for the consultants, A&Es, integrators and technology vendors. I, however, decided to check out the track session designated “Special Topics” to broaden my education experience. I was not disappointed. There were compelling presentations spotlighting the evolving Smart and Safe Cities movement, using AI at the edge and securing the cannabis industry from growing facility to dispensary.

One particular session that captured my attention was titled, Weaponizing Technology to Improve Outcomes During Hostile Events. Now I know you’re saying to yourself this sounds a lot like an active-shooter presentation with a fancy title. That’s what I thought. However, veteran security expert Jerry Wilkins had a pointed and unique spin on the topic. Wilkins, Vice President of Active Risk Survival, Inc. specializes in all-hazards training and how technology can (or cannot) play a critical role in improving outcomes in harrowing and dangerous situations.

Wilkins discussed real-life scenarios from the recent tragedies in Parkland, Fla. and Las Vegas, and explained the evolution of first responder techniques, public safety approaches and liability assessment since the Columbine shootings more than a decade ago.

“When we think about risk, it is not a complicated concept.  It’s either a positive or a negative outcome,” said Wilkins, asking his audience how many of their clients lie awake at night worrying about the good things that will happen to them or their organizations. “None, right? They only lie awake worrying about the bad things. And that they really worry about is am I going to be liable. Is there is something I did or didn’t do that causes me to be liable? And, where I really get nervous is when I think about negligence.”

Wilkins stressed that any facility that is open to the public has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to keeps its staff, clients and customers safe and out of harm’s way.  “If something goes wrong, has the facility breached its duty? I suggest they have,” he added, asking if there happened to be a mass shooting at the hotel, would it be easy to assess the damages and injuries? “This is what trips us up – approximate cause – which is what we did or didn’t do (in the event of a crisis situation). There are all kinds of risk and ways to quantify that risk, but when we start talking about violence, which creates intangible risk, it’s a little tougher. We have to do a qualitative risk analysis.”

Wilkins explained that every risk or threat must be mitigated and in the case of an active shooter, even if no one is injured, it is still considered a catastrophic event. In an organization where silos create greater opportunity for risk avoidance, liabilities increase and safety and security decrease. By adding advanced technology solutions to address possible security and risk issues, the problems inherent in a siloed environment where each department is self-absorbed to the detriment of the entire enterprise can be avoided. Unfortunately, Wilkins also highlighted cases where technology like video surveillance failed to be used properly and led to confusion for first responders.

He detailed events at Columbine and Parkland where policy and procedures failed to protect students and teachers and cited heartbreaking failures that ultimately led to fatal shootings. Several months after the Parkland shooting Wilkins explained that he had the opportunity to interview one of the surviving students. As he was ending the interview the student asked a simple question that brought Wilkins to tears: “Can you stop this?”

“Yes, there are things we can do to improve these outcomes,” said Wilkins, but as he pointed out when detailing the timeline of the Parkland shooting, few of the basic best practices where being applied. “Did they (administrators) fail to see that these events could happen when they had just had a meeting admitting that if anyone was going to shoot up this school it would be this kid? Best practices. Were they following best practices there? Was there an SOP in place? The number one best practice is an emergency operations plan. I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you have an emergency operation plan and an annex (a threat/risk flowchart) that relates to active shooter and you don’t practice it, it’s not going to happen. You will never rise to the occasion but simply fall to the level of your training.”

Event organizer Coulombe said he is looking forward to next year when CONSULT moves to a new location in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“This event fills a void and it continues to attract the industry’s best people. We appreciate the great support we have gotten from the vendor community and organizations like SIA and PSA,” said Coulombe.

For information on the upcoming 2019 event, you can go to this website: