Specifically Speaking with Patrick L. Weygint, RCDD

Associate/technology designer for SMMA based in Cambridge, Mass.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019

What's your title and role at the company?

I am an associate with Symmes Maini and McKee Associates (SMMA). My job title is Technology Designer. My role is designing and specifying telecommunications, audio-visual and electronic security systems.

What kinds of systems do you design/specify and what services does the company provide?

SMMA is a full-service A&E design firm specializing in corporate and commercial, federal government, higher education, k-12, life sciences and technology projects.
Regarding security systems, I design and specify video surveillance, access control and intrusion detection systems for all project types listed above.

Any interesting projects that you can mention?

From the security system design perspective, one of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on was for a pharmaceuticals development lab. In addition to access control, intrusion detection and video surveillance, the security program also included biometric readers for accessing specific zones within the facility, airlock door controlling systems to prevent contamination of highly sensitive areas as well as the specification of explosion-proof devices in spaces where combustibles are in use.

How did you get started in security and designing/specifying?

I was originally hired at SMMA to design telecommunications and audio-visual systems. Not long after I started, I was tasked with designing an electronic security system for an elementary school north of Boston. Before I knew it, I had waded deep into an array of new challenges in a rapidly developing field. I found myself asking a new set of technical questions such as:
•    What doors require access control?
•    Where to locate door contact switches and motion detectors?
•    Where to locate CCTV cameras?
•    Who receives alarms and how?
•    How do these systems work?

While scrambling up the learning curve, I came to realize that in addition to understanding a new body of technologies, I was also learning to think like the bad guys. I had to ask:
•    Who or what are vulnerable to injury, vandalism or theft?
•    Where are the locations where someone may hide?
•    How do you work with the Architect to design an entry protocol that detains visitors, allowing a person at the entrance to determine whether to allow the visitor into the building without conveying the sense of a prison environment?

Needless to say, I was hooked!

Can you talk about what new or emerging technologies you are seeing or specifying today?

The keynote speaker for this year’s Security Specifiers Consult Technical Security Symposium, Dr. Rita Singh, introduced the attendees to one of the most intriguing technologies I’ve encountered to date. Her field is in the emerging science of human profiling and identification from voice processing that she describes as “an intersection of the areas of AI and Voice Forensics.” Dr. Singh shared slides of her recent research including recreation of a facial image solely from voice sampling. The synthesized image compared with a photograph of the subject was remarkable.

Another technology that has caught my attention is long term, low energy consumption, high capacity video storage. With mega-pixel cameras now the first choice in video surveillance deployments, and with clients demanding longer periods of archived footage, a cost effective, energy efficient solution is a significant development in the video surveillance field.

One other area of interest is in the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) standard that has been developed to improve interoperability between access control and security products. Among the many benefits emerging from this continuously developing standard is that is enables devices from different manufacturers to communicate effectively. Deployment of the standard over IP is in development, opening another avenue for a common platform.

What is your view on the industry moving forward?

I see the field of cyber security adding a critical layer on to the physical security model we have developed over the years. As designers of security systems, our role is to seek solutions not only in response to cyber-attacks, but to implement proactive and adaptive approaches to prevention.