Articles by Tony O’Brien
A Managed Service solution ensures continuous system availability and functionality Managed Service methodologies have a proven record of improved operations, reduced ownership costs and the ability to migrate technology over time. Head of Enterprise Solutions for Siemens Building Technologies, Tony O’Brien, examines how this approach could impact the security and fire safety industries. How robust is your security and fire safety technology roadmap? A recent global survey conducted by Siemens Building Technologies found that over 60% of customers considered changes in security and fire safety technology to be their primary concern. The pressure to adopt new technology innovations, finding the cash flow and resources needed to implement, run and maintain it effectively, can prove to be overwhelming. An important learning point for keeping up with rapidly changing technology is to work closely with a chosen supplier who should act as a guide, trusted partner and mentor. That supplier can then help to harness complex technologies and create a manageable contract to deliver integrated services, so that organisations can continue to focus on their fundamental business activities. Key questions that organisations need to address when planning a technology roadmap Who is best placed and has the necessary skills to implement a roadmap strategy? Should we focus on our core business, or on the details of implementing, running and maintaining fire safety and security technology? Is our time best spent implementing and integrating technology, or learning how to use it to meet our goals? What is the best way of obtaining faster returns on investment, using existing capital or seeking returns from a funded solution? An alternative and flexible method of working Effective technology suppliers work closely with their customers to gain a deeper insight into their security and fire safety requirements, as well as associated operations. From this they can then identify strategic objectives and a defined common purpose that incorporates risk assessment, potential cost savings and performance targets. Any Managed Service programme should be designed to respond to the business needs of an organisation Any Managed Service programme should be designed to respond to the business needs of an organisation, providing different price scales for different offerings. At any stage, the parameters of the contract should be adapted to the needs of the customer: examples include installing further technology, extending the term of the agreement, or moving to a different level of service. At Siemens, we take a modular approach from simple equipment financing and call-out response, to a fully outsourced solution. The advantages of outsourcing part or all of a security and safety operation have been recognised by organisations across both the private and public sector. Examples include the London Borough of Bexley, the first local authority to outsource CCTV services and staff management, and The Centre at Livingston, one of Scotland’s largest shopping centres, where a Managed Service programme facilitated a major security upgrade. The conventional approach is often for customers to retain their security and fire safety asset until it becomes obsolete and is subject to uneconomical maintenance costs, before they consider replacement. That replacement then requires another capital outlay, as well as the procurement and personnel costs involved in tendering and implementing a new project. In contrast, the Managed Service solution ensures continuous system availability and functionality. Rather than investing in technology that may be superseded within a short period of time, customers benefit from a planned upgrade of their technology to keep pace with new developments, thus enabling state-of-the art safety and operational services without incurring large capital costs. An important learning point for keeping up with rapidly changing technology is to work closely with a chosen supplier who should act as a guide, trusted partner and mentor Technology is fully maintained and system functionality and reliability remain constant over a period of years. Customers pay regular, fixed instalments, which frees up cash flow that can be directed at core business and enables more efficient budget planning. It is an alternative and very effective method of working and success relies on a strong working partnership between customer and supplier. Close dialogue with customers enables assessment of the best method of financing to meet the exact needs and cash flow of each organisation. Furthermore, clearly defined strategic objectives including a full asset risk assessment should identify potential cost savings and assist in setting performance targets. The optimum Managed Service programme take a modular approach, providing customers with real choice, from simple equipment financing and call-out response to a fully outsourced solution. These programmes have a flexible and scalable approach that enable security and safety systems to be expanded, integrated or upgraded at any time. Services can be tailored to suit all budgets and maintenance requirements. Key to the success of any security and fire safety solution is the initial design that supports the technology. Through careful engineering customers can achieve a lower total cost of ownership, improve operations by greater efficiencies in infrastructure and capitalise on the benefits of converged technologies. There are many advantages in outsourcing part, or even all, of a security and safety operation; importantly, the customer remains in control and everything else becomes the responsibility of the supplier. That supplier has to operate as a trusted partner, managing areas such as out-tasking, monitoring, migration and service in a single performance-driven contract, allowing customers to focus on key tasks whilst having the tools to manage and direct the execution of multiple projects and services over a period of years.
The new PSSEU will be led by Tony O’Brien who has over 20 years of experience in enterprise solutions Panasonic has recently announced the creation of a new European solutions company that will bring together its various business products and develop world class solutions for its customers, offering a single point of contact and accountability. Panasonic System Solutions Europe (PSSEU), a division of Panasonic Marketing Europe, founded on 1 April 2016, develops market specific solutions that include Panasonic devices, software, connectivity and third party products, delivered with world class design engineering and project management. Focus on utilities, transportation and logistics PSSEU will initially focus its activities on three distinct vertical markets: Utilities, Transportation and Logistics. The new organisation will be led by Tony O’Brien who has over 20 years of experience in enterprise solutions, having previously worked with organisations such as Siemens Building Technologies. “For nearly 100 years, Panasonic has been widely recognised for its technology excellence in consumer electronics,” said Tony O’Brien. “This puts Panasonic in a unique position because the majority of our business customers sell to consumers too. This means we have a shared understanding of the type of challenges that our business customers face in the consumer market.” Improve efficiency and reduce business risk “As a result, we have developed unique value packages, which are tailored to specific customer needs. We are using a fusion of sector expertise and technological innovation delivering customised solutions that improve efficiency, enhance customer experience and reduce business risk.” An example of these value packages is a trespass warning system developed for the UK railway network. The new automated system will help to prevent trespass incidents at known hot spots, which cause customer delays and cost the railway network millions of pounds every year. Headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany Operating across Europe, PSSEU is headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany. It also has a number of subsidiaries, including Cameramanager, one of Europe’s leading cloud security providers and Panasonic Business Software Europe, which offers advanced software for the control and management of logistics and supply chain.
Tony O’Brien was invited to present a paper at IFSEC 2014 The electronic security and fire safety markets are increasingly demanding technology that will assess and manage critical situations, distribute information and co-ordinate and manage resources. Tony O’Brien, Head of Enterprise Solutions from Siemens Building Technologies was invited to present a paper at IFSEC on 18 June 2014 from 2-2.30pm in the Smart Buildings Theatre that demonstrated how to deliver a working environment that is intelligent, responsive and adaptable. Fully integrated technologies already enable a secure, safe and automated working environment. However the introduction of Enterprise-level Command & Control will create greater synergies between core sub-systems such as security and fire safety protection, power, communications and building energy management. This results in cost savings, revenue opportunities and improvements in manpower resources. Where we are today: secure, safe and comfortable To create a secure environment, devices such as CCTV are used to protect assets, access control to restrict entry to specific areas, and enhanced detection such as biometrics for higher areas of risk. Greater levels of intelligence are now achieved with video analytics and anomaly detection for both people and vehicles. Convergence of physical and logical access is provided by single card sign-on, meaning improvements in people identity and other benefits such as cash-less vending and asset tagging. To ensure a safe environment, comprehensive fire detection systems are used to minimise the risk of false alarms as the consequences can be catastrophic. For people protection, legislation demands clear evacuation procedures, which can be supported by Public Address and Voice Evacuation systems. Critical assets such as IT rooms require some form of fire protection system that is safe and effective at extinguishing a fire without harm to personnel or equipment. Finally a comfortable environment drives the demand for integration of security, fire safety and building energy management. A simple example demonstrating the benefits of integration is the identification of legitimate people within a building. If there are no personnel in the area, lights can dim and heating/cooling systems can respond automatically. When people return to work, lighting levels automatically increase and heating and cooling return to comfortable temperatures. Even this low level of integration will deliver greater efficiencies, improved cost control and energy savings. A step forward with Enterprise-level Command & Control There is no question that integration delivers benefits, but Enterprise-level Command & Control means that integration is not limited to technology. To improve efficiencies and reduce cost, an enterprise platform creates a control hierarchy that sits above all technological disciplines, managing not only technology, but also human resources and processes. Most command platforms on the market tend to focus on a single discipline such as security, fire or building management and then extend that single function to include the other disciplines. By integrating these elements, a much more holistic approach is taken to Command & Control. The introduction of Enterprise-level Command & Control will create greater synergies between core sub-systems such as security and fire safety protection, power, communications and building energy management For example, the term Physical Security Information Management, or PSIM, which is then extended to PSIM+. In real terms this means ‘Security + other disciplines’. When taking an enterprise approach, the first focus must be on operations with the intention of creating a single control point. The next stage is to decide which technologies to converge, with the objective of improving situational awareness. The advantages of Enterprise-level Command & Control In essence, Enterprise-level Command & Control will deliver access to a wider range of resources to manage any situation. Activities are centralised to reduce cost, which puts greater importance on effective communication. To mitigate human error, decision-making is more systematic and the need to follow a logical workflow is vital. It improves the effectiveness of critical control room applications, including call handling, resource allocation and despatch. Should a critical event occur, the operator will receive a call via the telephony integration; he then identifies the type of event and logs the relevant information. The system automatically prompts the operator with questions about the scope of the issue, quickly identifying key parameters such as people in danger and hazardous materials and providing an audit trail for every action. For many operations, time is critical, so operators need information at their fingertips. They have a decision management workflow that assigns priorities, determines activities and allows them to assign the appropriate actions and resources. Enterprise-level Command & Control will deliver smart working environments. The improved assessment, management and resolution of critical situations and protection of vital assets will be provided through improved automated decision-making, more efficient workflow procedures and greater convergence of technologies. In line with the need for both the public and private sectors to lower costs, these software platforms will enable improved operational performance, safer communities, safer business, improved shared services, greater efficiencies and cost reductions.