Security.World Q&A with Chris Fowler, Director of Emerging Technologies at ADT Commercial

Question and Answer with Chris Fowler ADT Commercial

We’re seeing a rise in violent incidents at businesses and storefronts across the country. What types of industries/workplaces are most impacted?

Workplace crime and violent incidents can happen anywhere within any organization. We are particularly concerned about the safety of front-line workers – from retail to public transportation to financial services. Employers must step in with better policies and tools to protect their greatest asset: their workforce.

What mistakes are employers making when it comes to creating policies and investing in tools to protect their workforce?

Businesses must pay attention to the issue and take critical steps to implement and enforce better policies and solutions to protect their workforce. The adage, “If you see something, say something,” is no longer enough to manage and prevent violent incidents in public spaces and storefronts. To solve this, employers must continue to assess their existing policies and security programs to see where they can improve, then commit to doing what it takes to make those improvements.

What new technologies are poised to change/improve how we protect public spaces and businesses? How soon until these technologies will be widely available / adopted by businesses?

Technology innovation in this space is happening quickly, focusing on tools to help de-escalate and prevent violent situations.

At ADT Commercial, we’re focused on researching and developing three key technologies to support this:

  • Data analytics. There is a growing demand for analytics to provide early threat detection and warning. Data analysis will be foundational to all other innovations built and deployed to protect the workplace. ADT Commercial is working to create and refine data analysis platforms and functionality that will allow businesses to better collect, analyze and act on this data efficiently and ethically.
  • Robotics. Over the past several years, there has been a push for technology that can complement existing guarding services, especially as turnover rates remain high and labor shortages persist. Robots may one day be a viable solution to fill labor gaps and better protect staff. At ADT Commercial, we recently unveiled EvoGuard, a line of intelligent autonomous security solutions, including humanoid robots that are being developed to conduct patrols of commercial facilities and buildings, perform two-way communications between the public and an operator, interact with staff and even respond to security events. Instead of putting a human at risk in a violent situation, we’re exploring the ability to send in a robot to help gather evidence by capturing footage/data and providing unbiased incident documentation.
  • Drones. Working in unison with humanoid robots, autonomous indoor drones can help patrol an area and investigate issues, alert and respond to potential hazards, and collect data when a security event occurs. Armed with insight from drones and robots, security teams have the potential to automate emergency alerts and responses better – locking doors and communicating information to response teams.

Tech innovations aim to help security leaders proactively prevent violent situations instead of being reactionary to them. Within the next few years, we expect to see these innovations enter public spaces and workplaces to make them safer.

What tips would you offer employers looking to create a safer workplace today?

First, employers across industries must implement better policies, solutions and explore new technologies to protect their workforce. That’s of utmost importance.

Another way for employers to improve safety is to create more hardened facilities on the interior. Specifically, they can replace doors with steel instead of wood, use bullet-resistant glass windows, and install panic alarms in key areas where violent incidents could occur. These steps can help slow a violent incident, buy employees more time to alert authorities and have emergency responders arrive. Every minute saved can go a long way in protecting people and saving lives.

It’s also important to remember that violent actors typically put some level of planning into incidents. They do their research and might know which locations are hardened before they create their plan. Therefore, employers and building operators must have solutions for every zone – inside and outside – to better manage incidents and be able to take proper steps after one occurs. The post-event investigation is important to understand what went wrong to help prevent future incidents. Leveraging monitored cameras and movement-sensing data collection and analysis are also critical.

What risks do businesses / employers face if they don’t improve their physical security plans ASAP?

Everything is on the line for businesses that don’t adapt to current physical security needs. Most importantly, they may be risking the lives and wellness of their staff and customers. And ultimately, not taking steps to protect these people could harm their reputation in the market. Of course, the goal is to live in a world where violent incidents no longer happen. Until we arrive at that place, business owners and employers are responsible for protecting their buildings and people.

How can new systems such as ADT’s Everon help employees become more secure in their work environments?

ADT’s new-and-improved Everon platform grants ADT Commercial customers real-time access to security system insights, allowing them to make fast decisions and act to protect their business and workforce better. With a modernized interface and enhanced dashboards, Everon is the most efficient iteration of ADT Commercial’s customer engagement platform.

It allows users to seamlessly:

  • Manage and quickly act on their data: Everon provides account and alarm data based on unique preferences, so the most business-critical information is displayed first.
  • Expand visibility into their facilities: With a comprehensive and real-time view of security-, fire- and life-safety systems – no matter how many locations are monitored – Everon helps users access and manage a wider range of functions.
  • Document and report on issues: With robust analytics and reporting functionality, customers can use Everon to report on incident evidence and manage system test results, alarm history, and more, to create a safer workplace.

Chris Fowler is the Director of Emerging Technologies at ADT Commercial, leading the company’s pursuit of innovative technologies to set new industry standards across security applications. An expert in enterprise security risk management with more than 25 years in law enforcement complemented by a full military career, Fowler counsels major corporations on developing strategic workplace violence prevention plans, comprehensive training programs and active shooter response scenarios having implemented national best practices recognized for their effectiveness by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Fowler has served as Deputy Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and as a consultant.

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