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In The Boardroom With...

Howard Johnson
Chief Operating Officer
AMAG Technology

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com:Thank you for joining us today, Howard. After 34 years at AMAG, Howard Johnson has seen a lot change: change at the company, change in the industry and change in technologies. In this interview, Howard takes a deep dive into these topics and shares his views. Before discussing AMAG in more detail, please tell us about your background.

Howard Johnson:Beginning in 1984, I started as a technician working at customer installations in what we’d now call the Professional Services Department. I moved on and became a QA Test Engineer for the product line, which then consisted of primarily manual testing of Intruder Alarms before moving back to the technical side where I ran the technical support department. Next, I managed Product QA, then ran hardware development before moving to manufacturing and distribution. Eventually, I took over product development where I oversee all development and management of the Symmetry Security platform and a team of engineers.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: AMAG is a well-established security management solution provider. What direction do you see AMAG heading?

Howard Johnson: We are close to completing the transition from being a product-led business to a solutions-led business. The breadth and sophistication of the product set we have is becoming difficult for the traditional integrator to communicate to their user base. Increasingly, the product manufacturer needs to be involved in selling the solution to ensure the requirements are met and the value proposition is fully explained.

Technology makes things simpler over time, but in the security industry, innovation branches off in different directions making it difficult for technology to make things simpler. Remember all those printer driver problems you used to have? No one ever thinks about that now; they just plug in and go.

We are finding complementary markets for our products where integration opportunities are helping companies with different aspects of their businesses. For example, intrusion integration, fire integration, BMS, space management and heat and light are all part of security. Our Symmetry products can integrate with these solutions and help users meet compliance, mitigate risk and save money. Our long-term strategy remains the same: to be a long-term valued partner and provide continuous value to our customers.

We are reinventing ourselves to provide a consultative approach so our customers know how to best use our Symmetry Security Management System. There are new challenges, technologies and propositions. It’s our job to help our customers learn how to use Symmetry to be more efficient.

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Kim Rahfaldt
Public Relations Manager
AMAG Technology

How to Overcome Airport Security Challenges and Solutions 

No matter the size, airports are responsible for the security of all workers who are employed within their walls, on the tarmac, and grounds. The challenge is ninety percent of those people don’t work for the airport. They work for the airlines, TSA, or different vendors that reside as tenants within the airport.

Airports need to provide a friendly and efficient experience for their tenants. They need to ensure the different employees (identities) are properly vetted and managed throughout their lifecycle. Additional challenges include the use of multiple disparate systems across an airport plus the rules and regulations that must be followed. How can airports provide a high level of customer service for their tenants, meet compliance regulations and ensure the safety and security of everyone? 

Onboarding

The faster an airport can onboard a new employee, the happier the tenant. When a new employee is hired, they get assigned to an airport and need a badge. The onboarding process is usually manual, and requires employees to make multiple trips to their airport to answer questions, get a background check, get fingerprinted, go through training, etc. Most of the time, the onboarding officer has to work in several different systems to complete the onboarding, which is cumbersome and error prone. Airports get pressured to quicken this process, and have an opportunity to show value to their tenants by getting new employees badged and out to work quickly.  By streamlining the onboarding process using an identity management system, the procedures are automated and the airline employee starts work faster. What used to take weeks, now takes days, plus automated processes also free up staff time, saving money.

Airports are highly regulated, and employees need to pass background checks and have a certain level of insurance to work in highly restricted areas like the Security Identification Display Area (SIDA). An identity management system can automate and streamline compliance requirements, ensuring the airport will not fall out of compliance. Built in reporting features provide pre-configured reports to streamline employee audits.

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Mr. Kurt Takahashi
President
AMAG Technology

What is Open and Why is it Important?

By By Kurt Takahashi, President AMAG Technology

There has been a lot of discussion occurring in the security industry lately around open versus proprietary technology. Supposedly, end users prefer to deploy systems they deem as open, versus systems that are viewed as proprietary (or closed). The thought is that an open system provides more choices. End users can easily expand their security systems and integrate with complimentary technologies necessary to secure their people, property and assets. However, as I dug deeper and talked with others in the industry, I realized that everyone has their own definition about what open really means. 

What is Open?

According to TechTarget: An open API, also known as a public API, is an application programming interface that allows the owner of a network-accessible service to give universal access to consumers of that service, such as developers. https://searchmicroservices.techtarget.com/definition/open-API

My definition of open is when a manufacturer develops their software and hardware following industry standards and makes their API’s available to any company who wishes to integrate with their products.

A proprietary system is by design a closed system that only works with a manufacturer’s own hardware and software. Proprietary companies do not share their API and typically do not make it easy to integrate their products with other technologies.

Some competitors force their partners into very restrictive agreements which limit a resellers ability to sell interoperable solutions. This type of tactic absolutely violates the spirit of open systems. No single component should dictate how an overall system should operate or what it should be able to support. Even if that hardware is commonly used by many access control software companies, is that considered truly open?

Ultimately, an open control panel can integrate with any access control software once the API is provided.  This new way of doing business means that even the biggest competitors could become technology partners if the end user chooses to install a system that way. Take a minute for that to sink in. Imagine partnering with your biggest competitor? 

Progressive companies understand the importance of delivering an open platform to the market. It uncovers new ways to drive revenue and creates happy customers. Making your own hardware and software allows you to control what success looks like, however being open allows for others to inter-operate and provides for choices for end users. 

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