Franco

A Conversation With Franco P.L. van Heijningen

Franco P.L. van Heijningen recently joined Honeywell as the general manager for its Vindicator Technology business, which focuses on securing critical assets and personnel within the government, military, commercial and industrial markets. His 30 years of career experience has crisscrossed the globe, with positions at consulting organizations in Asia and the Netherlands. We sat down with him to talk about infrastructure security. 

Q: What prompted your move to Honeywell/Vindicator?


A: I’ve always admired the Honeywell organization, and the Honeywell Vindicator Technologies business was especially appealing to me. When I had the option to join the business as general manager, I felt as if the position was written specifically for me. It fits well with my experience and the knowledge I’ve gained from working in this sector for the last 30 years. I’ve worked for both smaller and larger companies before, so I understand what each has to offer.  I was especially drawn to the opportunity to work for a business that consistently meets the challenge of protecting critical infrastructure like ports, power generation, transmission facilities, industrial production and storage plants.

On a personal level, my family and I now live in the same time zone. In the past 15 years I’ve lived in the Netherlands, Thailand, Singapore and New York City, among other places. I’m now living in Austin, Texas, where Honeywell Vindicator Technologies is based.

Q: How does protecting infrastructure differ from protecting, say, a building or a warehouse?
 
A: In general, the word “infrastructure” is pretty broad. Some might think of power plants, treatment plants, oil pipeline distribution centers or power lines. Infrastructure can be spread out, and the complexity involved can be very broad. For example, an airport or seaport is part of infrastructure, and it’s much more complex than a single building or warehouse. Infrastructures have vast and varying needs, so determining the “right fit” is critical – and challenging.

Also challenging is the fact that infrastructure can include multiple layers of protection, especially if facilities are larger and more complex. For instance, securing and protecting an airport can be far more complicated than securing a single office building or warehouse. The airport, in essence, has a more global focus with varying requirements and rules, and all of that must be considered when it comes to forming a protection plan and determining the necessary solution.
  
Size can also play a significant factor. A retail chain may not require an overly complicated protection security solution, but the fact that it covers a larger span of ground can add additional considerations when it comes to protection.

Q: How do the requirements differ among the markets you serve – government, military, commercial and industrial?

A: In the government and military sector, facilities require a much higher degree of performance on every level. Some locations will only select and implement a solution if the technology has gone through rigorous certification processes and all equipment is validated. Additionally, intrusion detection is extremely important and very heavily regulated as well.

Q: What are some of the challenges facing the infrastructure protection segment right now?

A: When people talk about infrastructure protection, they talk about all ranges, from a small sub-station outside of a subdivision all the way up to seaports and nuclear plants – and each has different requirements and challenges. Securing a facility is a process that must be viewed not only as part of an industrial system, but as a holistic security solution, as well.

One of the areas where I see a great opportunity with our platform is with business intelligence. Specifically, we can take currently installed access control, intrusion or video analytics technology, among other solutions, and apply business intelligence to collected data from these systems. This enables us to turn key performance indicators into key predictive indicators. If I have perimeter protection around a facility, and someone approaches but doesn’t penetrate it, is that a threat? Or, is it a bigger threat if the same person comes at the same time a few days in a row? Is that a statistic we should be taking a look at and report on?

That’s the challenge of technology – and a challenge particularly common in this industry. It is very hard to predict what’s going to happen and what threats might be posed to a facility. Instead, you have to rely on what has happened historically. With this insight and past indicators, we can create a probability analysis around this particular scenario.


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