New Solutions To Securing A Campus

How military and intelligence practices can aid in campus security

At first blush, the concept of bringing military operational and intelligence know-how to campus security may seem strange. one might wonder if lessons learned and applied from the military and intelligence world have much to offer a campus environment, or if bringing the two worlds together might result in an uncomfortable militarization of campus policing and security. what if, when leveraged appropriately, such backgrounds could result in increased solution performance, vendor accountability and stewardship of limited (often public or donor) funds in the development and deployment of campus security solutions?

Edge360, a company quickly establishing itself as a solutions provider for diverse community policing and security needs, is making the case that they can do exactly that, through the application of best practices and lessons learned in environments where inaccurate or unreliable performance is not an option, latest generation and mature technologies must frequently be made to work together, and steady (or even adequate) funding is hardly guaranteed. Circumstances, the company notes, that are not unlike those faced by campus security professionals every day.

In fact, in creating optimal and high-performing security solutions for its clients, Edge360 doesn’t advocate for “militarizing” security at all. Instead, they focus on using the best parts of its founders’ military and intelligence experiences to optimize existing systems across environments, including campuses—incorporating already purchased security equipment and technology, whenever possible—to make them higher performing, better aligned with actual on-the-ground security requirements, and more adaptable within modern budgetary environments. Notes co-founder and servicedisabled Marine Corps veteran John Rezzonico, the company’s CEO, “Edge360’s goal is to keep any client’s security solutions as true to their roots, requirements, and complementary to their core mission as possible. This is especially true in a campus environment.”

Rezzonico’s approach to security solution building—in uniform, as a civilian consultant, and now as an emerging innovator in the security and surveillance space—remains deeply and specifically rooted in his enduring commitment to public safety and service. Working with varied technologies and systems, paid for with taxpayer dollars, on missions for which underperformance was simply not an option, Rezzonico honed an ingrained understanding of the importance of tying security investments and operations to “real, on-the-ground” requirements, all while serving as the best steward of limited dollars (especially taxpayer and donor dollars) in security projects and purchasing as possible.

These values, Rezzonico soon found as a civilian consultant, were not always guiding principles in the commercial security space. As such, he sought to leverage them as a key differentiator for his own Edge360: providing customized security solutions that are fully requirements (not just technology) driven and fiscally responsible—providing optimal public safety and security without over-engineering, over-selling, or budgetary shortcuts.

The need to offer simpler, more responsive, and more affordable solutions to communities, including campus police and security teams has become the company’s greatest differentiator and passion. Translating that passion for innovation into effective, efficient, mission-centric solutions that better meet the security and budget requirements of campus communities and beyond, was job one for Rezzonico, co-founder Bill MacKrell, and a steadily growing team of innovators, since the company’s inception six years ago.

From the start, the company cultivated its own internal innovation lab, with engineers on site dedicated to solving their customers’ (and the industry’s) “why can’t we?” questions, and allowing the company to move beyond the simple resale, customization, and integration of existing technologies, to provide new—and new ways of looking at—security solutions. The team’s combined years of experience design, implementation, operation and support of command and control platforms and information technology have resulted in a new model for security solutions providers based on real-time observations of holes left unfilled in the security, including campus security, space.

As Rezzonico notes, it quickly became apparent that there was as much of a civilian need for cost-effective, high performing “operationally relevant” solutions that could be scaled and adapted easily, not just those based on readily available and often expensive new technologies. So, what’s one result of such in-house creativity with immediate relevance to campuses everywhere? A rapidly redeployable mobile surveillance solution recently featured at ASIS 2016 and in a proofof- concept demonstration in Houston, Texas.

Edge360’s rapidly redeployable mobile surveillance solution first appeared on the radar of many campus security professionals during that proof-of-concept demonstration, at the City of Houston’s annual Freedom Over Texas Festival. At the festival, Edge360’s demonstrated the capability of the rugged and nimble surveillance tool, which featured nextgeneration surveillance technology from surveillance manufacturer IDIS, to assist public safety personnel in the coverage of events or incidents with temporary, changing, or chaotic characteristics.

The Edge360 mobile system allows for quick and enhanced surveillance that adapts easily and quickly to altered environments, including from interior perspectives. It is highly relevant to campus security requirements, including those for regularly scheduled events, such as orientations, sporting events and celebrations; and essential for unplanned or one-off occurrences including spontaneous student gatherings, protests, and/or criminal incidents. And, as added radio frequency noise, which is common in such situations, can create an environment “hostile” to a traditional video system’s responsiveness, Edge360 uses hybrid and wireless technology innovations mitigate the challenges such environments create. Further, recognizing that traditional surveillance set-ups for major campus and large sporting events face several common challenges related to their dynamic nature, Edge 360’s solution allows for changes within venues— such as the erection of tents—that can limit viewing options and unpredictably alter security landscapes.

For Rezzonico, the development of the mobile solution, which allows for deployment (and redeployment) in as little as minutes came right from Edge360’s military and intelligence roots, and the company’s commitment to meeting mission requirements in an affordable and higher-performing way.

“When you come out of the intelligence space, you always start with the big picture,” he says. “You don’t start by ‘seeing’ a collection of products or technologies—cameras, access control, or license plate recognition systems, for example—that can be assembled into a security solution, you ‘see’ the big picture, the solution itself, first, and then you work the details to meet the need. This often results in a better performing solution at a more efficient price.”

He further notes the difference in approach means an improvement in the customer experience, free of the unnecessary upselling and bloated over-engineering of solutions that frequently frustrate customers in all sectors, and pose specific challenges for those in campus security, where cost, schedule, and accountability are highly scrutinized.

In announcing the successful proof concept, Jack Hanagriff of the Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security noted the immediate benefits of the offering, “The rapidly redeployable mobile surveillance solution provided by Edge360…really delivered. Houston is one of the country’s most dynamic urban environments and our commitment to the safety and security of our people at all times is second to none. [The Edge360] solution successfully delivered a powerful ‘plug-and-play’ video network capable of cellular or wireless backhaul and one that did not interfere with existing video networks or other wireless devices in use.

“Importantly,” Hanagriff continued, “this solution did not tax more than typical city resources commonly found in most urban communities, and the remote camera control via web browsers greatly enhanced situational awareness for our decision makers.”

Such words, it seems, are right in line with Rezzonico’s vision for the company. “At Edge360, our goal is to solve a customer’s security challenges in the best, most effective and efficient way possible, particularly by maximizing what they already have,” Rezzonico notes. “We, in fact, specifically set out to help customers better leverage their existing investments, using only appropriate and necessary equipment. And when we do introduce new technology, it focuses on the operational needs of customers, not selling the catalog.”

“It’s that simple.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Security Today.


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