“GDPR simply aligned with our principles”: Genetec’s Paul Dodds on securing and exploiting big data

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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
November 2, 2018


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Founded in 1997, Genetec develops IP-based security solutions over open architecture and prides itself on its vast ecosystem of technology partners.

As disparate systems become more integrated Genetec, which recently partnered with AnyVision to offer AI-driven video surveillance solutions, emphasises the importance of collaboration within this ecosystem given the axiom that systems are only as secure as their weakest point.

In common with many of its competitors the Quebec-headquartered company claims that its solutions can provide not just security, but operational insights and a return on investment too.

We spoke to Paul Dodds, Genetec’s country manager for UK & Ireland, about the company’s latest innovations and its efforts to better secure and exploit the vast and growing quantities of data being produced by organisations in a wide range of sectors.

IFSEC Global: What’s the big news on the product development front?

Paul Dodds: Clearance, our collaborative case management system, has evolved quite rapidly over the last 12 months. There are now more tools which are perfectly suited to helping clients be compliant with GDPR regulation, especially when preparing sensitive video evidence.

We have a tool that can quite automatically blur or pixelate out the face and all identifying attributes of anyone in the video file. That’s been a major driver for us this year and we are promoting its benefits as a cloud-based, subscription solution.

“We’re looking at how we can use data analytics to provide business improvement”

And we’re showcasing lot of our analytics-based Sense products – Retail Sense for example, Airport Sense – where we’re looking at how we can use data analytics to provide business improvement: that’s coming away from security fundamentals to taking a holistic approach to clients’ businesses.

Airport Sense

IG: Genetec has been quite proactive in its messaging and education around GDPR…

PD: We have to be. It transpires that for a lot of our security solutions, while we wouldn’t use the phrase GDPR-compliant as such, we do counsel and assist customers to be aware of, and follow, compliance requirements.

And video management, video processing tools – things like redaction tools in Clearance – are everyday tools that are really critical to all our compliance requirements as well.

So it’s a real opportunity to bring value to clients outside of security.

IG: Did you encounter much anxiety among customers about how they were going to comply with GDPR?

PD: It’s varied. Statistics show that right up until the deadline [25 May 2018] there were people who had not really embraced the whole principle. But the potential implications, not just in terms of fines, are quite severe.

IG: In what ways are you helping organisations maintain GDPR compliance?

PD: Before you get to the technology it’s about mindset and concept. Our ‘security of security’ concept, for example, doesn’t start with high-technology hardware and software; it begins with the mindset of people driving it.

That’s the first thing we try to focus on: education at the customer base.

GDPR principles in many ways simply align with the fundamental principles we followed anyway.

It’s also about working within an ecosystem of trust with partners, suppliers and customers.

“A business can spend an awful lot of money on security compliance, but if your partners don’t share those principles, you’re never going to achieve compliance”

A business can spend an awful lot of money in terms of security compliance, but if the partners you work with don’t share those principles, you’re never going to achieve compliance.

So a collaborative approach is the place to start, before we even start talking about technology.

The fundamentals of IT security are very important. We’re providing collaborative tools and again, Clearance is a good example. It’s not just confined to the security function; you can actually use it as a collaborative tool throughout the organisation, and with partners.

IG: What other big messages are you focused on?

PD: Data management is a massive accelerator for us. Retail Sense is a classic example, where we’re talking to clients about systems with a broader impact on their whole business.

So it’s understanding simple things like people flow in a retail environment. This information is very valuable to not just to security functions, but also the marketing function. This data can be used as a business improvement tool.

Then Mission Control, used in the control room, identifies workflows, bottlenecks in workflows, so we can help with collaborative decision management. This leads to more efficient situational intelligence to help security professionals improve their business efficiency.

IG: It must be easier to pitch to prospective customers that you can give them a solid return on investment, rather than just theoretically deterring crime – as important as that is…

PD: To say we can provide tools and systems to help you evaluate your working environment and this can bring tangible bottom-line improvement… Whether it’s people management, number of people within a business, or workflows – this is valuable data.

Again, we’re now generating so much data – and that will rise exponentially as technology evolves – that being able to do something meaningful with that data is a valuable asset.

IG: Do you use neural networks? That term – like AI and deep learning – is bandied about a lot in the industry these days….

PD: There lies the rub. AI is a buzzword in the industry at the moment and it forms part of our portfolio to various degrees.

With Mission Control: is that AI? I guess not, but it’s certainly bringing intelligence and decision-making support to the operator, and much of this leverages the more ‘functional’ part of AI, which we call machine learning.

“Mission Control is picking up serious momentum in high-pressure, high-profile, complex security environments like airports, city environments, police dispatch…”

We’re bringing intelligence to the workflow and business environment and decision support to operators working in very complex, high-pressure, life-critical environments.

Mission Control, which we launched some time ago now, is picking up serious momentum in all our markets, especially high-pressure, high-profile, complex security environments like airports, city environments, police dispatch…

Is it right to still think of Security Center as your flagship product?

PD: Yes, it is.  It all starts with internet protocol (IP), which Genetec brought to market for video surveillance 21 years ago. Then, the open-architecture of our system grew to become Genetec Security Center, which unified VMS, access control, automatic licence plate recognition, VoIP communications and analytics.

The open-architecture nature of Security Center, means we make it as extensible as our innovative imaginations, and as the industry requires.

IG: You obviously release software updates for Security Center periodically – anything to flag with the latest version?

PD: Yes. The security components in the latest releases are key drivers for us.

GDPR compliance tools as well. We have a product that can help our clients with their compliance – Security Center offers the KiwiVision Privacy Protector, for example.

GDPR has been very important in promoting security, and security has always been a fundamental pillar of Genetec.

We are diligent to be sure that our customers can trust and rely on the hardware they are using with their security networks. The latest version of Security Center offers a program that will check to assure that a customer’s cameras have the latest firmware updates, to reduce the chance of them being vulnerable to cyberattack or state-sponsored spying and IP theft.

And again, we’re trying to work in this ecosystem of trust. It’s not all about Security Center; it’s also about the partners and customers – what is their mindset and ethos? That’s what provides secure and compliant systems: that holistic, ‘unified’ approach.

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