Nate Rohleder is the Security Solutions Representative at Nex-Tech. He works with business customers to design video surveillance, electronic access control, and alarm systems to meet their individual security needs. With 10 years of sales and technical design experience, he is an expert in the fast-paced security industry.
Olga Detrixhe: Hi Nate, good to have you. Your working world revolves around physical security. Tell us what that means to you and why you are passionate about it?
Nate Rohleder: Every business is different, and everyone’s security needs are different, so it’s fun to get creative about how to help customers protect their business. They work hard to be successful and make their employees feel safe, so when something happens it can be detrimental. It’s rewarding to help protecting what matters.
OD: It’s interesting you bring up creativity—that’s probably not what people associate with security solutions. How can you get creative with those?
NR: Security systems are highly customized. There’s no cookie-cutter approach because every situation has its own set of challenges. Maybe the challenge is around connectivity because it’s a farm building in a remote area, or we’re trying to integrate multiple systems, which can become very intricate. Sometimes it’s about fitting in what a system needs within a given budget. Whatever the challenge, it’s always fun to come up with out-of-the-box solutions.
Take a security alarm system for example. Your first thought is that they protect you from break-ins. But did you know you can also use temperature sensors? Say you’re in the medical field. Certain medications need stored at specific temperatures. If that refrigeration unit is being monitored, and that unit goes out, an alert is sent and it can be repaired before thousands of dollars in medication is lost.
Another great example is using a video door camera at a remote scale so the scale-house clerk can communicate with drivers who may be a mile down the road. It saves time and makes the operation more efficient and more secure for everyone.
OD: Ok, if I want to do something about protecting my business, where do I start?
First are alarm systems. The alarm system is a proactive, cost-effective way to secure your physical premises. It is the simplest way to immediately let you know that someone is gaining access who should not be. You get that alert and the system can sound an alarm as a deterrent.
Video surveillance is the next layer that provides a visual of what happened around the incident. It may give you a vehicle description you can provide to law enforcement for further steps.
Other use cases might be monitoring shipping and receiving. Did the package arrive on time? Did it look in order? Did you ship out five packages as indicated?
Maybe it monitors traffic. Who is coming in and out of your business? What are they doing while in there? Good to know given turbulent times. Those systems are also great if you are mobile because they can be monitored remotely.
Electronic Access Control is the third piece—controlling access to your facilities without handing out and managing metal keys or having to switch-out locks. These systems are flexible and user friendly. With the click of a mouse, you can assign new users or restrict, or revoke access. It makes system management hassle-free and also secures the facility since there is no one ‘out there’ with potential access.
NR: Not at all. In fact, some areas have become more important. If you do not have as many people on-site, it may be even more important for you to remotely monitor your business, either to keep an eye on operations, or inventory, or even vandalism. Video is great for that, and all can be done remotely.
Security can also help with contactless communication. For example, if you have a video door station set up, you can communicate with customers before giving access. There is an opportunity to ask qualifying questions before allowing someone to enter.
Access control has specifically seen a boost since COVID-19 since organizations are trying to control and manage access and walk-in traffic. Some are monitoring checkpoints for screenings, or even closing certain entrances.
Tracking that information is crucial for contact tracing because there is record of who is or has been in the building along with occupancy levels. Again, all of that can be done on the fly and remotely.
OD: If you could give a 3-5-year outlook, where do you think the industry is going?
NR: Electronic access control is a high-growth area and here to stay. I think we will see more contactless sensors triggering doors to automatically open without touch.
On the video side, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are becoming more important. It is not just about camera hardware anymore, but the software behind it with capability to analyze the video feed and report on things like occupancy estimators, measuring physical distance between people, or using facial recognition.
With the current situation we have also seen an increased demand for thermal cameras, meaning the surveillance system can check someone’s temperature. That technology is still new and developing, but I’m sure we will see it improving in the future.
The other big trend is the Cloud, of course. That will mean less hardware on-site with cloud-based platforms managed remotely. And that plays right into cybersecurity because more convenience will become less secure quickly if you don’t pay attention.
OD: Can you talk more about that? How do physical and cybersecurity connect?
NR: Since your physical security system runs on the IP network, they go hand-in-hand. If you’re concerned about one, you have to consider the other. Implementing a physical security system will always touch your network, so you must make sure you are not inadvertently creating vulnerabilities.
Conversely, if you’re concerned with cybersecurity, you must also consider the physical safety of your network as well. Every decent cybersecurity framework will spell out physical requirements and you will need to balance your priorities as both cyber- and physical security come in line with each other as the technologies converge.
Take cloud for example: It simply demands more vigilance. When I first started in the industry, it was common to open ports on the network for remote access to cameras. Now that is a huge red flag. If you do that, you are basically punching holes into the wall around your network.
In addition, all devices on your security system are network devices. It is what enables them to be smart and talk to each other. But that interactivity also requires a lot more management. It is really no different than PCs. You must make sure to upgrade firmware and enforce password policies, otherwise your surveillance system that’s supposed to protect you may help cyber criminals to steal from you.
The key nowadays is to work with a partner who understands both the physical aspects of a security system, such as the correct door locks, strikes, camera angles and resolution, and the IT side of using network and cybersecurity best practices. It is no longer a “set-it and forget-it” type solution. Instead, it requires a much deeper skillset around complex network set-ups.
Make sure your security system is aligned with a proactive monitoring and management approach. You want to know your video server is failing before it does and that is where you will really see a lot of value as your security system joins up with the rest of your IT operations. To me that’s where the industry will ultimately go.
OD: Thank you Nate! How can I find out more if you piqued my interest?
NR: The best way is to pick up the phone and call me. I’m happy to help educate and clarify. If you’re ready to take the next step, I will do an assessment of your facility based on our conversations and can make recommendations to help you sleep better at night.
Call Nate at 785.621.7019 or visit www.nex-tech.com.