26 March 2011

Goals of A Physical Security Consultant

As a Physical Security and Integrated Systems Consultant, I help businesses to better manage their security risks, reduce losses, and provide a safe and secure workplace for your employees.  To implement security strategies that is aligned with your organization's mission and values that support rather than interferes with the operation of your business.  As a resource for state and local governments, corporations and high net worth individuals, I always advise you based on my experience and your goals.  Some of those recent goals are:
  • Find the right balance between security and convenience.
  • Provide security in a way that respects the unique culture of your organization.
  • Make employees, customers, and guests feel safer and more secure.
  • Keep from spending money on security equipment that won’t really solve your problems.
  • Reduce ongoing security operating costs by using doing more with less.
  • Have your security program add value to your organization's bottom line.

I specialize in helping companies and organizations that don't have a security department or security manager and for organizations that do have a security or asset protection department, I provide an objective outside look at the way that security is presently managed, as well as provide services that can inform on new technologies that could supplement and enhance the capabilities of your in-house management team.

In future posts I will discuss some experiences that I have had in providing these services over the years. If you have any questions or to learn more feel free to email me anytime at jmcdonald@AmericanAlarm.com.

24 March 2011

A Burglar Alarm Is An Investment In Your Security

People today agree that the world we now live in is a lot different from that which our parents and grandparents lived in. Statistics today show that a burglary now occurs every 14 seconds. So why wait until after your home has been robbed to get a security system installed? The security systems now available are much more advanced and sophisticated compared to those available a few years back. All the systems today are now designed to help secure your home against any intrusion. Unfortunately as home security systems have advanced, so have the methods that burglars use in order to gain access to a property. Just having chains or padlocks on your property, or even a very basic burglar alarm, is not sufficient to deter a would-be burglar.

However, by investing in a good alarm system, you will not have only peace of mind but also know that you have taken measures to ensure that your property and your family are secure. It is best if you choose a system that will protect both you, your family and home at all times of the day. It should not matter whether you are in it or away on vacation. By installing a good system within your home, you know that you will sleep better at night because any potential intruders will see that you have a system in place and are likely to move on to more vulnerable property than yours. Not only is having a system practical but it can also be extremely cost effective. Many insurance companies will provide those homeowners who have an alarm system installed on their property with a discount on their premiums. 
If you are looking for more information on a burglar alarm, just ask and I provide you with everything you need to know in regards to the various options now available. So don’t be caught without protection. Get a burglar alarm installed today.

22 March 2011

Guy Kawasaki shares some tips from his new book, "Enchantment"

Guy Kawasaki shares some tips from his new book, "Enchantment," on how to get customers excited about a product. His three pillars of enchantment for business include: likability, trustworthiness, and a great cause. He says that right now marketers are focused on engagement, and he wants to change the conversation to enchantment.

20 March 2011

Experience Certainty with a Physical Security Assessment Survey

Physical security is the most fundamental aspect of protection. It is the use of physical controls to protect the premises, buildings, site facilities, people and other assets belonging to your company. In this day and age, you cannot afford not to have a security evaluation performed on your property to protect yourself against intrusion into your company, frivolous lawsuits interruption of normal business operations or damage to your business reputation.
Many of my clients wish to periodically reexamine the way that they provide security at their facilities. The desire to do this may be triggered by a recent security incident, rapid growth of the organization, or a change in management philosophy.  In many cases, there is a desire to reduce costs or to see how well the organization’s present security program compares with that of its peers.

A formal Security Survey/Assessment is an excellent way to evaluate an existing security program. During a Security Survey/Assessment, all aspects of the security program are examined, any weaknesses are identified, and suggestions for improvements are made. In addition, opportunities where costs can be reduced or where security operations can be made more efficient are identified.  My assessments can be very comprehensive or a simple surveillance survey.  The following discusses my more comprehensive version, however I can scale the survey to your needs.

My Survey/Assessment has been used to successfully conduct 100’s assessments at wide variety of different types of corporate, institutional, and governmental facilities over the past thirty years.  This assessment process is constantly evolving, allowing me to take advantage of lessons learned from previous assessments, and to keep up with the latest security best practices.

The Security Assessment uses a structured, formal analysis process that allows me to develop a deep understanding of your business, operating conditions, corporate culture, and unique security requirements.
While client involvement is always crucial to success, my job as a consultant is to facilitate the assessment every step of the way, keeping the project on track, and making sure that all important elements are examined.

The Security Assessment is custom tailored for each project, but typically includes the following tasks:

Risk Identification
Threat Assessment
Review of Site and Facility Security
Review degree of compliance with recognized CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principals
Review of Facility Operating Procedures
Review of Regulatory Requirements
Review of Physical Security Systems
Review of Security Policies and Procedures
Review of Security Management
Review of Security Personnel
Evaluation of Present Security Program and Identification of Weaknesses
Development of Recommendations for Security Improvements
Identification of Short-Term and Long-Term Costs
Prioritization of Recommendations and Development of Implementation Plan
Preparation of Written Security Assessment Report

The Security Assessment Process
So, what can you expect when I conduct a Security Assessment at your facility?

The following is a brief outline of the typical assessment process:

  1. Prior to coming to your site, we will request a number of documents for my teams use during the assessment. These typically include plans of the site and buildings, copies of any existing security policies and procedures, samples of various types of forms, company telephone directory, employee handbook, and other similar items. I only want what you already have; if there is something on our request list that is not available, it is not a problem. 
  2. I will work with you to identify the people within your organization that we would like to interview. The goal is to get a good cross-representation of all of the major operating and support departments within your organization. Typically, this would include members of senior management (CEO, CFO, CIO, etc.), department heads, and people who occupy roles which are directly related to security, such as building receptionist’s, security officers, and shipping/receiving personnel. The typical interview session lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. 
  3. When I first arrive on site, I will start by conducting an in-depth interview with the person who presently serves as “security manager” for the facility. This may be an actual security manager, or may be the facilities manager or other person who manages the security function for the organization. This interview session covers a lot of details, and typically takes 2 to 3 hours. After this interview, we ask this person to give us a brief guided tour of the facility. 
  4. I then begin conducting individual interview sessions with each of the employees identified in Step #2 above. Depending on the size of the organization, this process could take one, two, or more days.
  5. At the conclusion of the interviews, I will conduct detailed inspections of certain areas of the facility and site. I may also spend extended periods of time observing certain areas of your facility, such as the building lobby or shipping/receiving loading docks, etc. 
  6. I will return at night with our light meter to take lighting measurements in your parking lots and other areas of the site. I will also take advantage of this opportunity to observe how your facility operates at night, and to get a general feel for the neighborhood during the hours of darkness. 
  7. At the conclusion of the visit to your site, I will meet with you to give you an update on our progress and to discuss the next steps in the process. At this point it may be possible to offer some preliminary findings and recommendations, but in most cases, we will need time to process and analyze the data gathered before I can give you any meaningful guidance. 
  8. I then return to our offices and begin, with my team,  our formal Security Assessment process. During this process, we identify your critical assets, analyze potential threats, review loss history, study crime forecasts for your site, evaluate existing security measures, and identify potential weaknesses and areas for improvements. At the conclusion of this process, we begin to write the Security Assessment Report. It normally takes between two and three weeks from the time we complete our site visit to the time when we complete our draft report. 
  9. While we are preparing the report, we often uncover things that require further investigation and study. In some cases, this may require that we return to the site to conduct additional interviews or to examine certain things more closely. We may also request certain additional documents or other information that is available from within your organization. 
  10. When the draft Security Assessment Report is completed, I will send it to you for review. After you have had an opportunity to digest the document, I will meet with you in person or via teleconference to review the report in detail and respond to any of your questions or comments. 
  11. After I have obtained your input, we will prepare a final Security Assessment Report that incorporates your comments. If desired, I can make a formal presentation of the Security Assessment Report to your senior management team or others.
  12. At the conclusion of the assessment process, I remain available to assist you with implementation of the recommendations contained within the report. This can include identifying vendors and sources of products and services, reviewing proposals, developing security policies and procedures, providing training, and assisting in other ways.

To learn more about my process CLICK HERE or contact me by e-mail at jmcdonald@americanalarm.com or call me directly at 508-453-2731.

17 March 2011

Erin Go Bragh

Wishing you a rainbow for sunlight after showers,
Miles and miles of Irish smiles for golden happy hours,
Shamrocks at your doorway for luck and Laughter too,
And a host of friends the never ends
Each day your whole life through!

May the Love and Protection
Saint Patrick can give
Be yours in abundance
As long as you live.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


15 March 2011

Benefits of Avigilon IP video surveillance systems go far beyond better security.

Avignon (Pronunciation: a-vigil-on) 
Definition: To be perpetually alert and watchful.

Avigilon Control Center, with High Definition Stream Management, is a network video management solution that delivers full situation awareness and indisputable detail, leading to faster response times, reduced investigation times and superior overall protection. Available as standalone software or pre-installed and configured on an Avigilon NVR, the Avigilon Control Center is a secure distributed network platform with enterprise- class reliability for capturing, managing and storing high-definition multi-megapixel surveillance video while efficiently managing bandwidth and storage.

The industry’s first high-resolution performance digital surveillance system comes from Avigilon. It comprises high-sensitivity cameras to capture images in real-time. This system transmits images on Gigabit Ethernet for ten times faster image streaming. It uses lossless compression techniques for image capture and recording, ensuring the highest quality images possible. Lower operating costs whiles improving customer service and response time to critical events. Consider the following immediate advantages: 

Direct cost savings
  • Guard labor
  • Lower shrinkage
  • Better customer service
  • Lower operations or site maintenance costs

Faster, correct response to problems on site
  • More effective response by emergency personnel in a true emergency
  • Fewer accidents & false accident claims
  • Effective identification and prosecution of criminals
  • Lower employee turnover

The advances in IP (Internet Protocol) based digital surveillance over older analog systems are considerable. Advanced graphic mapping interface enables operators to layout cameras and servers on an imported map for easy navigation of large surveillance systems. Maps can be layered and nested allowing easy navigation through satellite maps, multi-story buildings and very large areas and interfaced with other systems such as access control.

IP video surveillance brings many new benefits and capabilities to video surveillance. These include everything from easier operation, less expensive installation and better image quality to automation and improved cost effectiveness. One of the most remarkable things about IP video surveillance is the intelligence of the cameras. Video analytics enables them to be programmed to recognize certain types of activities and issue alerts to security staff. What’s more, by installing or transitioning to IP video surveillance, hospitals, schools, public sector entities and colleges can all significantly improve their security operations and assure employees, patients, students, parents, teachers and tax payers that appropriate measures are in place to ensure their safety.

Direct cost savings due to less wiring

Cameras can be connected and powered by Power over Ethernet (PoE), a technology that enables power to be provided to a camera using the same cable used for network connection. PoE eliminates the need for power outlets at the camera locations and enables easier application of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation.

Direct cost savings due to less maintenance
  • Less cable to manage and upkeep.
  • (PoE) offers less points of failure and decreases cable and power outlet usage
  • Less moving parts due to pixel density offering software Pan, Tilt, Zoom(PTZ) while creating greater situational awareness maximizing evidentiary video.
Far longer recording times
  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD) standardized on network server technology.
  • Servers using RAID protect your data with recovery methods.
  • Hot swappable drive options ensure lowest possible down time.

Far higher resolution
  • A megapixel digital camera has 32-times the resolution of an average analog camera.
  • Higher reliability and ease-of-use.
  • Multiple cameras can use the same cable.

Changing camera placement is simple—just remove and plug into another network jack.
  • Cameras can be placed almost anywhere using cost-efficient standard wireless technologies. 
  • Easier to expand system in the future. 
  • IP video surveillance systems scale easily from one to thousands of cameras in increments of a single camera.
  • Full control of private or public web access. 
  • Live video can be accessed via desktop computer, laptop, PDA and even cellular phones Sophisticated software analytics provides automatic rule-based alerts
  • Receive these alerts via email, txt, etc.
  • Integration with other IT systems and services

About Avigilon

Avigilon designs, manufactures and markets award-winning high definition (HD) surveillance systems.   Avigilon designs, manufactures, and markets award-winning HD surveillance systems. The performance and value leader, Avigilon’s solutions protect and monitor thousands of customer sites in more than 60 countries around the world. Avigilon Control Center, the world’s first open HD Network Video Management Software platform, and megapixel cameras deliver full situational awareness and actionable image detail. Campuses, transportation systems, healthcare providers, public venues, infrastructure, and manufacturing sites with security, safety validation, and compliance requirements all benefit from reduced investigation time and more successful investigations by immediately producing indisputable video evidence. Avigilon earned Frost & Sullivan’s HD Surveillance Company of the Year award in 2009 and the Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation in 2010.  

To learn more and receive a demonstration or trial of this technology contact me anytime at jmcdonald@americanalarm.com.

Hospital Critical Communication over IP (CCoIP) with STENTOFON

I spent some time with STENTOFON last week on a public safety project I am working on and was very impressed with their IP audio technology and the new IP solutions that will be released at ISC West in April.  I am sure many of you are familiar with this solution because of their chemical-resistant stations that have an anti-bacterial surface and are specially designed for hospital operating rooms and other clean areas. To meet the requirements of these environments, the stations provide loud-speaking, hands free communication from any location in the room. Speaking hands free is a great boon to healthcare personnel as it allows them to speak and listen even while occupied with other tasks. If not here is some more information about the company and the solutions.

STENTOFON Critical Communications over IP or (CCoIP®) has a large high contrast displays with backlight for exceptional readability. Due to its IP functionality, these stations have no geographical limitations and offer remote software upgrades, configuration and monitoring.
In the reception areas which are a vital information point for visitors, patients and staff. There can be several of these in large hospitals and are important communication hubs in the building. The reception informs the doctor when a new patient has arrived. It also provides information to family and friends of the patient. In case of an emergency, the reception has to be able to get hold of the right people as soon as possible, and if necessary, broadcast messages throughout the hospital.

STENTOFON offers products that are particularly suited to these kinds of tasks. Their Control Room Master stations can be extended with up to 100 direct access keys and integrated with PA equipment, wireless DECT phones, cell phones, pagers, and radio. The station is available both in analogue and IP versions and can be equipped with a gooseneck microphone and a handset or in a Softclient version.

Help points
Help and/or emergency points are integral to any critical communication system in hospitals. They are usually installed throughout the corridors, the emergency room, the car park, or at the entrance, etc. Help or assistance is just one button push away and calls can be placed directly to the security desk. CCTV cameras can be automatically triggered when a corresponding help point is used so the guards can also see what is going on.

The STENTOFON analogue and IP Substations are typically used as communication, information or emergency points, and offer the following features:

  • Priority of call
  • Two-way, hands free (IP) communication
  • High Power Lamp/Strobe flashes when activated for emergencies
  • Connection to external IP video camera
  • Superb wideband audio quality
  • Remote software upgrade, configuration and monitoring
  • Tamper alarm for additional system security
Additionally, your security guards may need to ensure the safety of the staff and patients and to prevent the theft of expensive equipment. STENTOFON Control Room Master Station proves invaluable as it allows the guards to address the PA system in case of an emergency.

Restricted areas
There are numerous restricted areas in hospitals that need to be monitored closely. A hospital relies on an advanced access control system to manage these areas. STENTOFON equipment can be easily integrated with the access control system. Restricted entrances to the hospitals are provided with intercom stations for extra security.

Parking facilities
The same solution can be used in the parking facility. Big hospitals usually have several parking facilities for visitors and staff. In order to manage all these, a smart, interactive parking solution is needed. STENTOFON gives a voice to the parking facility with the installation of emergency stanchions, help points, etc.

CCoIP on a backwards compatible system
When STENTOFON introduces new technologies into the market, they will always make sure that these new technologies are compatible with the older systems. CCoIP, or Critical communication over IP, is a concept that stands for a communication system running only on the IP standard. Our latest intercom stations are entirely IP based which means they support power over Ethernet and use the LAN to connect the server.
Their AlphaCom server supports IP technology but can nevertheless integrate with old intercom products such as TouchLine and Ringmaster. They offer a wide range of intercom stations based on either analog or IP technology.

Audio quality
Their stations offer the highest audio quality available in intercom. Their IP stations go up to 7 kHz and our analog stations can go twice as high.

Distance is no longer an issue
Thanks to IP, exchanges located all over a wide area can be connected through fiber optics, coax or even the internet, this technology is called AlphaNet. The AlphaCom exchange has a wide of monitoring and logging features such as (Syslog, Web, SMTP, SMS…) all these features can be set up remotely and crucial logging information is distributed in a matter of seconds to anyone who needs to receive this info, regardless of the distance.

The STENTOFON Softclient, the software that will turn your PC into a STENTOFON intercom. Access a wide range of critical communication services, including intercom, public address, radio and telephony. The STENTOFON Softclient can be operated with mouse, from the PC keyboard and with touch screens.

The STENTOFON Softclient supports all features of the AlphaCom servers. It supports HD Voice and Active Noise cancellation.
Some typical areas to use the Softclient are:
  • Control room application integrating intercom
  • Reception services handling door calls
  • People on the move wanting access to the AlphaCom XE services via their laptop
I found this solution an excellent situational awareness tool for management in an emergency and for every day secure communications.

To have a demonstration of this technology or to learn more about STENTOFON, just drop me an email or call me at (508) 453-2731.

13 March 2011

Comprehensive Massachusetts Emergency Link List

National Agencies & Organizations:

American Red Cross (ARC):

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT):

Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC):

Emergency Management Accreditations Program (EMAP):

Emergency Management (EM):

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC):

National Emergency Management Association (NEMA):

Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)

Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES):

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Agencies and Organizations

Department of Fire Services (Massachusetts):

Massachusetts Association of Emergency Management Professional (MAEMP):

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA):

Massachusetts Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT):
DMAT-2: Worcester: http://www.dmatma2.com/

Massachusetts Urban Search & Rescue Task Force &

State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART):

Weather Related

National Hurricane Center:

National Weather Service – Boston:

National Weather Service – National:

National Weather Service – Storm Prediction Center:

National Weather Service –Space Weather:

Homeland Security Advisory Councils

National Association of Regional Councils:

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) &
Central Region Homeland Security Council:

Northeast Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council (NERAC):

Western Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC):

Forms Related

Applied Technology Council (Damage Assessment Forms):

Incident Command System (ICS) forms:

FEMA Forms:

Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) (Forms):

Reference Guides and Tools

Acronym Finder

Acronyms List (Federal Official List):

(Electronic) Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (eCEPM)

Computer-Aided Management of Emergency Operations (CAMEO):

Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP):

FEMA Ready.gov:

Google Earth:

Local Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Draft Guidance:

Massachusetts Geographical Information System (GIS):

Risk & Vulnerability Assessment Tool:

WebEOC – Massachusetts:

National Incident Management System (NIMS) & ICS Related

ICS Core Competencies Guide:

National Integration Center (NIC):

NIMS Online:

National Response Plan (NRP):

National Response Framework (NRF): (replaces NRP – yr 2008):

NIMS Compliance Assistance Support Tool (NIMSCAST):

NIMSCAST Guidance Manual:

NIMS Compliance Corrective Action Plan Guide:

NIMS Full Document:

NIMS Guide:

Resource Credentialing Definition and Criteria Guide:

Resource Typing Criteria Guide:

Training Related

FEMA Independent Study – Emergency Management Institute:

MEMA Training Registration System:

Local Emergency Planning Committee Related:

Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA):

Criminal Background Related

Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) &
Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI):

Physical Security Talking Points and Fraud

When discussing physical security, there are several important talking points to consider. Here are some key points to include: Risk Assessm...