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Security Systems for Safe & Healthy Buildings

Sheeladitya Karmakar & Bruce Montgomery IoT Chat

A conversation with Sheeladitya Karmakar & Bruce Montgomery @honeywell

Security systems have new roles to play in keeping us safe and healthy. Guarding against intruders and theft is just the start. Video surveillance systems also need to watch for elevated temperatures, monitor social distancing, keep an eye on mask usage, and so much more.

Join us as we talk to Honeywell about the best ways to deploy these new capabilities. We discuss:

  • How to use AI to add new features to existing safety and security systems
  • Ways to protect privacy and comply with regulations
  • How to integrate video systems with access control, HVAC, and other building systems

Related Content

To learn more about implementing AI into existing security systems, read Q&A: Security Systems for Safe & Healthy Buildings. For the latest innovations from Honeywell, follow them on Twitter at @honeywell.

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Sheeladitya Karmakar: We want to look at these solutions, not as point solutions, not solutions that you deploy and forget about, but as solutions that can be scaled for future operations, even in a post-COVID world.

Kenton Williston: That was Sheeladitya Karmakar, senior offering management lead at Honeywell Commercial Security. And I’m your host Kenton Williston, the editor in chief of I’ll be talking with Honeywell today about the latest in security technology, video, AI and all the rest. But before we get to that, I’d like to invite you to join Honeywell and myself as we continue this conversation in our Twitter chat, October 14th. Just use the #IoTDevChat to participate.

I’m joined today, not only by Sheeladitya, but also by Bruce Montgomery, the senior strategic account manager at Honeywell. So Bruce, let me throw it over to you. What do you do at Honeywell security?

Bruce Montgomery: I work in Honeywell’s enterprise commercial security business, and I manage and design and take care of very large accounts and all of their needs. And they spread through a variety of lots of different features and capabilities depending upon the end user and their needs and how they change vertical to vertical.

Kenton Williston: Excellent. And Sheeladitya, how about yourself? What’s your role at Honeywell Commercial Security?

Sheeladitya Karmakar: Thanks Kenton.  I’m the senior offering management leader at Honeywell Commercial Security. Apart from that, I’m also leading the Healthy Buildings Initiative from a commercial security standpoint, for Honeywell.

Kenton Williston: So you touched on, I think a point that’s on everyone’s mind there, which is the idea of healthy buildings. And I know a lot of concerns that business owners, and the folks that operate and own buildings have changed over the last few months in the wake of the pandemic. That’s certainly true for business campuses, lots of other environments as well. So what are some of the ways that the pandemic has changed the care abouts for your customers?

Bruce Montgomery: I’ll answer that. So to answer it, it has changed everything that we do tremendously. And what I mean by that is there is just simply no longer as usual as we expect with a pandemic. And it’s changed the way we shop, the way we teach students, the way we socialize and definitely how we work. And in our world, in the safety and security world, there’s always been that traditional three pillars of security. It’s access control and video and intrusion.

And over the last, I’m going to say 10 years. And certainly predominately over the last five years, we have other things in those pillars. Now it’s no longer three, it’s many, and you have analytics, you have gunshot detection, mass notification, different buildings and security. Building safety, however, it takes on a whole new look, and since the pandemic, we all talked about the healthy buildings in every one of our conversations today.

And that means a variety of things. Everything from thermal detections, facial recognition to initiate what’s called contact tracing, social distancing analytics that are telling owners of buildings or owners of park districts, or manager of the park districts and governments when, and where groups are gathering too closely together. And how do I manage that. There’s PPE detection, so we can determine if people are coming into my building with, or without a mask, and be able to address or have a method of addressing these individuals that are creating a potential vulnerability for our buildings and for the people that come into our buildings.

We’re doing our very best, our mantra is, “How do we make it safer? How do we know it’s safer? And how do we keep it safer?” And all of this is happening with technology and being able to one, detect it and make it safer, and be able to put reporting definition and checks and balances to know that it’s safer. And then how do we address that, and educate those people coming into our buildings, to wear these things so that we can keep it safer. So that’s where we have seen the majority of our changes occurring since the pandemic, and how we address them.

Kenton Williston: Everything you said there, Bruce totally makes sense to me, but I have to say, “Wow, that is a long list of new projects for anyone to take on.” And I’m wondering what your customers can possibly do to deploy these new capabilities quickly to do it without having to totally throw out their existing systems. It just seems like such a huge lift.

Sheeladitya Karmakar: So I can take that question, that is a very important question that we keep getting asked almost on a daily basis as we talk to customers and as we get customer requirements. It is important to address that question because as in the new normal, our end customers are very, very wary of doing huge capital expenditures and it is important to create solutions using existing infrastructure that they have in order to address the compliance and sustainability needs of opening and keeping their businesses open as they operate in this environment. Having said that, one of the key things that needs to be considered by our end customers is... And let me give you some examples around that, is that they keep asking us that, how do they utilize their existing camera installations for their surveillance needs and for say, mass detection or social distancing, or how do they utilize their existing access installations to actually do contact tracing or even create a touchless access control or a frictionless access control environment where they minimize the number of surfaces that their staff or employees have to touch to prevent the risk of infection.

And that is how they’re prioritizing their solutions right now, they’re using preventive technologies such as softwares that can take feed from existing camera infrastructure, or can be retrofitted on an access control system, which can then help them achieve these outcomes in order to keep their staff and visitors and building stakeholders safer within the building.

Kenton Williston: Well, that totally makes sense. I would say from a conceptual level, but I’d love to go just one step further. So what I’m thinking about here is most of your end customers, I’m assuming are not doing all this work themselves. They’re working with you, particularly with systems integrators to implement and maintain these systems. So I’m thinking if I put myself in the shoes of a system integrator, what can I do to facilitate all of these new priorities, and how can I help those end customers quickly ramp up their capabilities?

Bruce Montgomery: So let me address that. Well, first things first is they really need to get up to speed quickly with some of the newest trends and newest capabilities. That being said, Honeywell as a manufacturer, we take that upon us as a responsibility to teach integrators exactly what the newest trends and technologies are. How to use them, how to deploy them, how to sell them so that we can show the integration, we can talk about the problems that end users are experiencing, because we have such a breadth of knowledge, of different end users and our relationships with end users are at a very high level, we speak to our end users, if not daily, certainly weekly.

We want to make sure that they’re getting the best information that they’re being taken care of by the integrator. And that they know about these new technologies, really very, very easy to say that most end users, schools, commercial properties, there’s a distinct level of fear about how to manage these new technologies. How do I get my employees back to my building and back to work, so we can start to generate more revenue and we can get back into the workflow. And we know that there’s anxiety even with teachers coming back to schools, the same anxiety exists with students and people going into their office building very clearly, we have to find a way to mitigate that through technology.

We do it by guaranteeing and being able to put very thoughtful solutions into their building, to set up procedures or help them set up procedures so we can get their students, their teachers, their employees into their buildings safely, be able to put those in. So we can not only validate somebody’s temperature as they are coming in, whether it’s a large group of people being able to pick out 14, 15 people at a time and give you the temperatures of all of them. As they walk through a hallway, we can do that. In addition to having more organized or more structured entrances, where we can create entrance pads. So as I get my employees coming into my building, I can present my access control card, identifying myself, and it takes my temperature for me, so that I don’t have to now hire a person to stand there and put something, one of the handheld devices to somebody’s head and take those temperatures.

Getting the integrators up to speed with these new technologies, these things that we’re selling, the things that we’re integrating to our Honeywell platforms is incredibly important. They are our representatives, the integrator is a Honeywell representative. We want to make sure that they’re very secure, very confident in what they do, as confident as we are. So that’s part of my responsibility, is part of our marketing and public relations. We spread that information, provide training daily, weekly, we have them on our website so they can learn more. Again, this Thursday, we’re having another presentation to teach more about healthy building technologies, how to deploy them, and where they sit. The whole goal is to get people back to work, get people back to work safely and make them efficient, and also relieve some of those anxieties that they’re having by going back to work.

Kenton Williston: That’s really cool. I didn’t know about the level of training you offered there, and that totally makes sense, and that would help the integrators, help their customers. And I’m also wondering, just in terms of your solution stack, I know you’ve got a lot of really capable offering. So we’ve written recently in our program, the program, about for example, you’ve got an Intel validated solution, what they call an RFP Ready Kit that consolidates all of this technology together. So pragmatically speaking, what are your solutions for this space look like, and how do they help accelerate the deployment of these new capabilities?

Bruce Montgomery: So the pandemic is creating the demand. So our ability to respond to them quickly and with the capabilities that us and our partners are being able to provide customers is where the value lies for us. And our partners that are doing this endeavor with us is just guaranteeing a higher level of security and safety for all of these businesses. Some of those that we see at the forefront of being able to manage getting people back to work and getting them back safely and reducing some of the anxieties are the PPE mask detection. I spoke about that earlier, but that’s an analytic that can be rolled out and very quickly, certainly within a day, be able to tell you exactly who’s coming in, going into your building, and are they wearing a mask? Now, all of these things have a really great value, but the value after they’ve been integrated is where they really start to excel because the data is the value. Being able to take that data, that information saying this, person’s not wearing a mask.

And we’re gathering that from an analytic that is now giving us the ability with our integrations to put notifications up. And whether it’s something as simple as a LED screen, as they’re walking in, that’s a reminder, “Please wear your mask,” or maybe it’s an audio or a wave file. It just says, “Please put your PPE detection mask on.” It’s a reminder that sometimes people need, and we’re very much into the... Our goal is to educate, right? So we want to be able to deliver that information to them so that they remind the employee, the student, the teacher, and it starts to become a practice instead of just having them constantly remember, I want it to be automatic when they’re in the building, it’s an a guarantee or give us a better chance of eliminating the pandemic and the thing that’s driving all of this into our buildings, and the need to make them safer.

Thermal screening, again, that’s another case where we’re deploying cameras and readers that have the ability to allow access control based on somebody’s body temperature. And it’s just scanning the head, face, the eyes, or just the facial area where it gives you an incredibly accurate thermal temperature and gives you that base plate where I can now identify this and say to this individual, “You are within threshold. I’m automatically by you being within threshold. I’m going to approve your access credential for the rest of the day. You can go in and out of the building without any other additional impedance or having to go through the thermal temperatures.”

But if that individual was outside the threshold of what we prescribe as being safe, then our systems are going to automatically suspend your privileges for 14 days until we can get additional medical clearances or somehow validate that it may have been an environmental reading. It could’ve been something they just came from outside. The temperature was high because of that. So there’s things of that nature.

The next analytic that we’re doing and seeing a lot of is contact tracing. And that means the employer that gets a phone call on Tuesday from somebody that says, “Hey, I just tested positive.” Now I can go back and find out who were the individuals that were in that same proximity of that employee. And we can do that through analytics, through cameras. We can do that in analytics, through access control and tell you who is in the elevator at the same time, or who happened to sit at the same lunch table together. We can start to identify those individuals and notify them discreetly and professionally so that we are representing the person who is infected properly. And also those people that might have been contaminated through this contact that they’ve had. So we’re trying to manage that very efficiently and very discreetly. So we’re delivering that information to them, that they may be contaminated, something that they should probably go get tested.

The last one is the social distancing analytic, and that is obviously becoming an issue, we’re seeing other cross-contaminations. If you watch the news, social distancing is definitively a problem, specifically on college campuses. How do we manage that? Are we even managing it effectively or at all? We want to say that we are, but and for us to look at it Monday morning quarterback and say, “Well, why are we letting that happen?” Well, there’s other things that player, I mean, there’s being able to hire manpower to effectively police that, that’s really challenging. So that’s where this analytic, we start to be able to deploy this type of technology that does it for us.

It’s a force multiplier. It does all of these things for the universities. It does these policing of the social distancing in a large areas, in government, park districts, large areas where they might have public gatherings. These are all very, very important. And also, in the same breath, they’re incredibly difficult to police with already challenged security staff or management staff. This is where we should probably start thinking about some analytics to start, as I said, you being our force multiplier.

Kenton Williston: So I have to ask, when you say analytics, the first thing that comes to my mind is a different term, which is AI. So I want you to where AI fits into this, how it plays not only into the immediate concerns, but where you see AI impacting safety and security in general, going forward?

Sheeladitya Karmakar: I can take that. So in terms of the solutions and use cases that Bruce’s just described, almost all of them have some deep learning and AI, capability within it, because these are technologies that required or analyze a particular scene, a video clip in order to give meaningful information, which operators can take actions on. Now, in terms of the capabilities itself, I would say that for our customers, we are looking at three phases of solutions. We are looking at short term solutions, which uses AI like the thermal screening, which uses a regular video stream or a visual stream, or from a camera, and then does thermal analysis based on the temperature sensor data that’s coming in, combining that data, and then providing some proof point of an elevated body temperature, which is just a triaging, right? It’s just screening method. In order to ensure that you can go for some additional steps if the temperature is above a particular threshold.

Now, some of these short-term solutions are actually useful in helping businesses get back to work or even re-open with the more rapid response capability. In the medium term, some of the AI technologies around social distancing, or around contact tracing that Bruce mentioned, where we are partnering with Intel and actually, building solutions using the deep learning algorithms, which can allow our customers to actually respond and scale their operations during incidents that we see, suppose they identify a potentially COVID positive person within the premises, then how do they respond to that particular incident? How do they handle their staff, their stakeholders, their guests, within the buildings to ensure that they are well informed. And to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps around say following the guidelines of social distancing within optimal.

So just to give you an example, a lot of retail customers might want to know which aisles are causing the social distance, or have repeatable social distancing violations, or which zones within a building have repeatable social distancing. Maybe there’s something wrong with the layout there, which is prompting people from not adhering to social distancing norms, or which areas do we see where people are not adhering to wearing masks? So those are some of the medium-term solutions where AI applications are available.

And then finally, from a future proof standpoint, in terms of long-term solutions, we want to look at these solutions, not as point solutions, not solutions that you deploy and forget about, but as solutions that can be scaled for future operations, even in a post-COVID world, which our customers can utilize for future analytics. For example, they can use AI and the data that’s coming in from these deep learning algorithms to actually create a very comfortable and personalized space for a person within a building.

For example, as an employee when I walk in, the zone where I work actually has a specific temperature that suits my comfort levels, or it has a particular lighting level, or they can manage the occupancy of a building using these technologies which will ensure that the airflow within the building is based on the occupancy of the building. So I would say that that AI comes in various phases, but ultimately it’s the outcome that our customers want to achieve using the AI and deep learning technologies, which is divided into these three phases, is what becomes more valuable.

Kenton Williston: So I love all of this, and I have to say whether I was a customer, or an employee or a student, I would love to have these technologies helping provide not only that sense of safety and wellbeing, but even just the comfort and the personalization, all of that sounds fantastic. But the other thing I have to point out is that a lot of folks are worried right now about how video is being used, not only from a personal privacy standpoint, but also from a larger civil rights perspective. And I’m wondering how those concerns can be addressed. And again, if I’m putting myself in the shoes of a system’s integrator, what things I might want to think about there?

Sheeladitya Karmakar: I can take that. Absolutely. And data privacy and cyber security are two key pillars to product development, not only at Honeywell, but for most technology companies today, and these are important questions that we need to answer in order to address some of the concerns that our customers might have. System integrators can be trained and taught about the different features and capabilities that our solutions have. Specifically, let’s take the example of video management solutions, since video and video analytics is a big part or a centerpiece of the data privacy conversation. I’ll give you an example to answer this question. We have a feature called selective masking and unmasking within our video management systems, which allows the operators to actually mask the face of a person when they are doing an analysis, or when they are performing video analytics.

So it is not necessarily that when the videos that get captured or that get recorded, it not only ensures that the privacy of the person is maintained, but also has the feature capability built into the product. And I think that is the approach that we have to take when it comes to product development. We have to build in features that address the data privacy questions across different regions and locations globally. And the next thing that I want to also talk about is that a lot of the data that has been stored or is being utilized is actually in the valve within the control of the end customer. And it comes with the expiration date or retention period, which means that our customers, and our system integrators are aware of this, they can help their customers create the right retention period and the right rules that ensure that the data is not stored within their system over a particular period of time to ensure that all of the data privacy concerns are met.

So I would say that its inherent solutions and the capabilities of the inherent solutions and giving the control to the end user, and ensuring that the right messaging and the right processes are kept in place either when you’re developing the protocol, or when you’re selling the product.

Kenton Williston: Great, that definitely would go a long way towards resolving concerns. I’m sure. But I have to also say that we’ve so far really talked almost explicitly about video, but really when it comes to whether you’re thinking about a healthy building or a safe building, there’s so much more involved there, I’m thinking about things like, you mentioned access control, there’s fire suppression, lighting, HVAC, all the rest. And I think it’s safe to say that these systems works best when they work together. And that leads me to the question, what should systems integrators keep in mind then as they work towards delivering more holistic systems that bring all of these elements together?

Bruce Montgomery: I’ll answer that one. So at Honeywell, we believe the best companies that integrate with thoughtful solutions and keep the end user core values and budget and consideration show a true business partnership, right? Purposeful integrations that bring the solutions to problems and generate value, have the highest importance. At Honeywell, we have a very strong API that leverages a lot of different integrations. And when we talk about access control in security, we generally think about the access control system as the quarterback of your security platform. So the end user integrator has, let’s just say, 50 plus different manufacturers that sell different access control systems and different platforms, not all of them integrate as matter of fact, many of them are either individual or standalone or some sort of a proprietary format, and that does not lend itself well to integrating with a lot of different things.

So where we very clearly know that integrated solutions in this day and age in particular had the highest and most tremendous value for you. And our goal is to be able to bring you the solutions for your business, that integrate to not just our platform, but maybe even other platforms. And that’s what we’re doing today. The integrator needs to think in that manner, they need to think about the platform for the end user, does it integrate to all of these other things? And I said, there’s a lot of different choices. There’s 50 plus manufacturers out there. All of them can do such as access control, but where we begin, we certainly do access control very well, but where we really shine is after the door, right? Anybody can lock a door, put that onto a system, give you some report, where we excel is after the door, after the door lock.

Now the integrated being able to integrate with the COVID solutions, being able to put together thermal systems that integrate natively to our platform and give you not only integration based on a thermal temperature, but also full reporting of such events and being able to train employees on how often they’re coming to work, where their temperatures are at, and making sure we’re acting as a responsible business taking care of our employees. That’s important to us. Integrating with fire systems again, not many platforms do that. We do that natively. We do that natively with systems and we’re very, very good at integrations.

So I think that would be my message to integrators, be thoughtful about what you’re presenting to your customer, making sure that it isn’t a dead-end road, right? Once the sale is done, let’s not stop there. Let’s make sure that they have opportunities to do other things when needed out, such as getting a surprise pandemic at the beginning of the year, and realizing very, very quickly that we better integrate to all of these other things. That’s where our platforms are right now at the point where just excelling beyond others.

Kenton Williston: I agree. Taking that more thoughtful approach and being cognizant of the many, many different offerings that are out there is really critical for success, but I’m wondering, that sounds good in principle, but again, we’re talking about something that feels like a pretty big challenge. So what are some best practices systems integrators can follow when they’re looking to customize a solution and looking to pick the right elements that go into their offering?

Bruce Montgomery: Sure. So I think my best recommendation for an integrator to follow, again, remembering there are 50 plus manufacturers out there that they can pick from. We want to be able to tell you why we’re different, and that’s part of our training, and the integrator as well, but the integrator needs to know the platform very well too, be the local experts on your system, know it frontwards and backwards, learn the system better than your manufacturer does if that’s possible.

Remember to build a system to increase productivity, right? Leave your customer in a better place than when you met them. I would recommend them to find a system and a method to reduce the total cost of ownership, that’s part of becoming that business partner or owning that system. I mean, I’ll say for me personally, when I develop a system, it is like I am buying the system for my own building. I want to know how I’m making that better for my business. I want to know how I’m making it better for the company. And I need to make sure I’m reducing the total cost of ownership. I don’t want to sell you something just to sell you something.

Things like reducing the cost of liability by learning your customer’s security pains. Are they in the type of business where they have fines and penalties based on a noncompliance, maybe it’s a utility, maybe it’s a pharmaceutical, maybe it’s a hospital that they have certain requirements that they must meet, and if they don’t meet them, then there’s fines and penalties they could incur. Know these things, make sure that we know them, and make sure we work around them and find solutions before they become a problem. Just fix it, be ready to fix it, make sure that I’m addressing those problems meeting. And as I said, meeting the regulatory compliance of your customer needs to be paramount, be the invested security integrator. You definitely have support from Honeywell. We are the invested security manufacturer with every one of our end users. That’s our goal. We want our integrators to be exactly and have the same core values that we do.

Kenton Williston: Well, I guess, that feels like a really strong point to close on. But Bruce, or Sheeladitya, anything else you’d like to add before we end our time together?

Sheeladitya Karmakar: I just want to send, thank you, Kenton, for hosting us here. It’s been a pleasure talking to some of these very important and relevant points today, and Honeywell is here to serve our customers better. And I also want to add that the products and solutions we are talking about are right here today that these are products and solutions that we want to, not just deploy in the short term, or to address point needs, but create that ecosystem which you can utilize year over year to improve your productivity. And not just your bottom line, but your top line as well. And over that, let me say that please explore if you want to make your building safer, keep your building safer and knowing that your building is safer.

Bruce Montgomery:  I would echo the same thoughts, we want to be available to you to help design, mitigate issues. We spend tremendous time and investment in making sure we have the right solutions for them, for schools. I know, I do work with a lot of different universities and schools and I think the one point I can say very clearly that I continue to hear is, “We’re getting asked to get our kids back in schools and we don’t know how to make them address all of these potential issues.” It can be terrifying, and I know a lot of schools that are concerned about that. We spent a lot of time going through all of these solutions. We want to make sure that we’re delivering the right ones for you.

I personally spent a lot of time doing universities, and K through 12, so I can help and I’d offer my solutions and my services for a design and a review of abilities and how to get your kids into the building safely. And we have some really good ideas for you, whether it’s a standalone system or something that’s integrated, we have that solution for you today. So I would end on that.

Kenton Williston: Fabulous. Well, I’ve got a kiddo, right here next to me, waiting to return to school. So I very much appreciate that. All right. Well, gentlemen, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today. And that just leaves me to thank our listeners for joining us. Again, I would like to remind you that we have a Twitter chat on the same topic coming up October 14th, and that’s 10 o’clock Pacific, and you can just use the hashtag IoT Dev Chat to participate. This has been the IoT Chat podcast. If you enjoy listening, please support us by subscribing and rating us on your favorite podcast app. We’ll be back next time with more ideas from industry leaders at the forefront of IoT Design.

The preceding transcript is provided to ensure accessibility and is intended to accurately capture an informal conversation. The transcript may contain improper uses of trademarked terms and as such should not be used for any other purposes. For more information, please see the Intel® trademark information.

About the Author

Kenton Williston is an Editorial Consultant to and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication as well as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.

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