How An Innovative Control Room Can Help Secure The Budding Cannabis Market

Angela Nolan

By Angela Nolan

It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is growing. Numerous states across the United States, from California to Maine, have legalized recreational cannabis, with 33 total states allowing cannabis for medicinal uses. And it’s not just the United States that’s seeing this trend: Canada’s official legalization of recreational cannabis took effect last October. This growth is leading to incredible opportunities in the industry, with the global market valued at $10.3 billion in 2018 and projected to reach $39.4 billion by 2023.

This market opportunity expands far beyond the companies that directly deal with the cannabis plant, with numerous adjacent businesses on track to experience benefits. For example, providers of greenhouse equipment and fertilizers stand to rise with this wave. But one area that tops the list of those that will encounter advancement from this evolution is the security industry. Cannabis companies are interested in keeping operations from seed to sale safe and are therefore turning to security manufacturers and integrators to implement intelligent technology solutions.

The Importance of a Control Room
Within the manufacturing side of the cannabis sector exists a variety of operational facets, including facilities that grow and cultivate cannabis plants, wholesalers that can further refine and treat products, and consumer-facing storefronts. With all of these locations requiring robust protection at all times, they can benefit most from implementing a unified command center to help address safety and security threats 24/7/365.

One prominent and consistent threat that can be mitigated by the implementation of an innovative control room is internal theft. No matter the type of facility, a business that works with cannabis needs to make sure that employees aren’t walking away with merchandise. A properly equipped command center should have high-quality video walls set up to present the most relevant information, coupled with a trained operator that can survey many aspects of the business and act quickly if an employee is exhibiting suspicious behavior.

Additional Technology to Include
Video surveillance systems have a key purpose in the cannabis industry above and beyond product loss: regulatory compliance at the state level. The cannabis industry maintains heavy regulations around how companies need to run to stay compliant, such as the need for effective video surveillance and data storage. Requirements vary by state, calling for minimum camera specifications, which areas of businesses need to be recorded, and how long data needs to be kept – among other provisions.

Aside from video surveillance, access control is another important security element for keeping potential threats out of secure areas and away from valuable merchandise – and it is also often required for state-level compliance. A unified command center should incorporate access control technology, as well as all the elements of a legal cannabis business’ security infrastructure. By bringing together activated alarms, camera analytics, and other sensors, operators can achieve better situational awareness when deciding the best course of action for suspicious activity in or around a cannabis cultivation facility or warehouse.

An additional element of safety that may not be top of mind for this industry —but is incredibly important to consider— is transportation. Cannabis businesses require secure transportation to move products between growing operations, warehouses, retail locations, and other facilities. Herein lies an opportunity to incorporate vehicle tracking and information into command centers so that operators can keep an eye on the company’s product while in transit.

Command Center Design Considerations
Companies within the cannabis security that choose to move forward with implementing a command center should work with an experienced integrator and consider several fundamental design elements, including ergonomics, lighting, temperature settings, seating, and proper lines of sight. Overall, the physical environment shouldn’t take away from the technology that is being installed and the systems that are being monitored. If an operator does not have the ability to see or access all the information they might need, they won’t be able to do the job as well. Ergonomic workspaces and the length of shifts are factors in operator fatigue that can be sorted out with proper command and control room design.

Additionally, when dealing with high volumes of expensive products, cannabis companies need to be monitoring their operations without any downtime. This means ensuring all elements of a command center are functioning properly and being able to quickly identify when parts need to be repaired or replaced. Remote monitoring might be a good option for companies that require mission-critical systems to remain up and running.

Since compliance requirements vary by state and locality, cannabis businesses must evaluate their individual security needs and processes and partner with a service provider that will outfit them with the right solution. But deploying an innovative and integrated control room is a great place to start and can enable cannabis companies to improve response time, reliability, and decision-making in mission-critical operations.

About The Author
Angela Nolan serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Vistacom, a leading provider of audiovisual and communications solutions. Angela joined Vistacom 33 years ago and throughout her time has overseen a number of various functions, including accounting, operations, and marketing. During her tenure, the company grew from 12 people to more than 75 as Angela helped refocus the company on providing the most value to its clients through its products and services, which encompass full design, engineering, integration programming, service and maintenance, and control room design. Anglea also serves on the Professional Systems Network International (PSNI) Global Alliance Board of Directors as the organization’s secretary/treasurer.