Evan Nardone, Chief Technical Officer at St. Moritz Security Services, shares his views on the evolution of guarding and how technology is influencing the security industry.
Our second Calipsa Spotlight article features an interview with Evan Nardone, CTO at St. Moritz Security Services. Evan has a background in analytics and technology, and uses his expertise to drive St Moritz’ technical initiatives. This includes introducing more advanced officer management tools to the field.
In his interview, Evan shares insights into how the guarding industry has evolved in recent years, the role of technology in modern security and emerging security trends.
Tell us about St. Moritz Security Services
St. Moritz Security Services was founded in 1982 and provides high-value customer service focused security to a number of clients across the United States. The majority of what we do is the physical security piece, providing physical security officers for retail, healthcare and supply chain logistics etc. Within the last year, we have also launched our virtual security division.
How has the guarding industry changed over the past 5-10 years?
The industry has seen a massive change. There has been a huge consolidation of players in the marketplace. Large companies have been buying up regional companies across the US. As that happens, margins have been shrinking as these companies attempt to outbid each other. The model is based on volume of work, not necessarily quality of work. They want saturation in a given area and this gives them a profit margin. As a “super regional” company, St. Moritz takes the opposite approach; focusing on customer service and the value proposition more than sheer volume.
We are also facing a labor shortage in the US and guarding companies are fighting over a small pool of people. The average wage for a security officer has stagnated, so finding people to do jobs that pay the same now as they did 10 years ago is tricky. The primary solution for this has to be leveraging technology, using things like virtual security and remote guarding. This means that we can have 1 officer onsite instead of 2, while using remote guarding to provide him with support. In turn, we can then use the savings from using virtual security to increase wages, give more value and to find better people.
What are the biggest challenges facing security professionals today?
Shrinking budgets and an increased need for security. I spoke with a client recently who are high risk because of the nature of what they do and have been given a new budget from leadership to do whatever it takes to get secured. But I think everyone is seeing increased risk in places we had not normally seen them. So the question for most security professionals is; how can we secure those facilities without getting more money to do so?
What role does technology play in modern guarding?
Remote guarding is different from monitoring. It involves providing security at an individual site using a combination of technology and onsite individuals. Monitoring is remote and involves reporting on events as they happen. The idea with remote guarding is to combine things like motion alarms and CCTV with random site patrols to provide a high level of security.
Technology in the form of AI and robotics also has a role to play. Things like virtual gatehouses are on the rise. You don’t necessarily need an officer to provide verification to raise the gate and turn off the lights. This can be automated using technology allowing physical officers more time for other tasks.
As technology continues to become more powerful, accessible and affordable, what impact will this have on demand for guarding services?
There is no limit to what technology can do and I think we are starting to see that with a lot of the new applications. When it comes to robotics and drones, there are places where real application falls off. But the possibilities are mind blowing. As an example, just think about what you can get by replacing parking lot attendant with a robot. In doing this, you can autonomously receive real time analytics on the vehicle, drivers etc. all for a fraction of the cost of a security officer.
However there is absolutely still a place and a need for onsite officers. Technology doesn't replace people; rather it enhances what an officer can do, making their lives easier.
What emerging trends are you noticing in the industry today?
The next big thing is going to be the use of AI in officer management for physical guarding. AI can be used to build schedules, direct officers and make operations more efficient. This is definitely the next giant leap for guarding. Most security companies out there are using one person as the scheduler, someone who knows who lives where etc. Instead, they could be leveraging tools that are available to deep dive into these schedules and improve efficiency.
How is the growth of CCTV video monitoring influencing the industry?
CCTV is a critical lynchpin. In order for guarding companies to better leverage their security officers and be more effective, they need to be able to see what’s going on. Using event driven monitoring is how that works. What Calipsa does - being able to use machine learning to limit the volume of false alarms - is a key function. If we have 1 officer monitoring 100 cameras and he is getting multiple false alarms an hour, there’s a chance he might not see the actual alarms until later because of the time spent reviewing false alarm footage. By combining the capabilities of CCTV and the power of technology, we will be able to see great improvements in overall security.
What excites you about the future of the industry?
I’m excited about being able to provide a better service for both customers and officers. The thing that people outside the industry don’t realise - unless they have a good relationship with the security officer in their building - is what that person does everyday. They are onsite away from their managers, and everyday they have to make judgement calls, maintain high levels of customer service and be a responder to any incidents. Being able to support that so they feel like they are part of a larger team, and to give them the tools they need to be more successful, really excites me.
I think we’re going to see a lot of great developments over the next couple of years. The industry is changing and the possibilities are endless.
Get in touch to find out how Calipsa uses the latest machine learning technology to reduce CCTV false alarms.