Specifically Speaking with Robert E. Summers

Principal consultant for Summers Associates LLC, based in Pasadena, Calif.
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Friday, April 6, 2018

What's your title and role at the company?

As the principal security consultant/managing director, I oversee all management and coordination of projects. In addition to providing electronic/physical security countermeasure design and construction administration services, we also offer threat and vulnerability assessments, gap analysis and security master planning services. We specialize in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) plan reviews of new construction projects for architects, developers, end users and risk management firms.

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

We provide turnkey integrated and standalone system design and construction administration services. We carefully review our client’s threat profile and work closely with the project architect to manipulate the built environment’s exterior and interior design to establish and enhance opportunities for natural surveillance, natural access control and layers of protection. We review project landscaping and lighting plans to minimize design conflicts negatively impacting natural surveillance, illumination uniformity ratios, video surveillance and emergency call station locations. Once this holistic approach to securing the architectural design is completed, we begin the process of applying proposed electronic and physical security countermeasures to support sound architectural designs.

What vertical markets does the company specialize in?

Our vertical markets are quite diverse and include: commercial, education, government, healthcare, insurance, law enforcement, manufacturing, mental health, pharmaceuticals, transportation, ultra-high net worth estates, utilities, water.

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

In 1981, I graduated from the Bergen County Police Academy in New Jersey as a 21-year-old rookie police officer. After several years on the job and completion of my B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration, I relocated to California and entered the private security sector as a loss prevention manager for The Broadway Department Stores. Later, after a three-year stint in loss control for Chubb Insurance, I joined Dictograph Security as a security representative in 1991. The next 10 years included entrance to the security manufacturing sector as a manufacturer’s representative for Elbex America, Integral Technologies and as the national sales manager for Tatung America’s Video Monitor Division’s entry into distribution, national accounts and OEM channel markets.

My entry into the security consulting industry began as the Los Angeles manager of Security Consulting at Gage-Babcock & Associates. In 2011, Summers Associates, LLC was created. It has truly been my pleasure collaborating with fellow independent security consultants on projects throughout the United States. I am continuously impressed by the dedication and wealth of knowledge my peers possess as we collectively strive to make our world a safer place by design. 

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

Due to our previous experience in the security-manufacturing sector, we have firsthand experience with the negative realities associated with premature product market releases. As a result, we apply a relatively conservative design approach inclusive of established vendors and technologies and absent of “bleeding edge” technologies to insulate our client base. We see a continued focus and growth in the areas of IoT, cybersecurity, biometrics, data collection/mining and AI and ML. We believe the existence of a truly integrated converged “smart” system, serving as a realistic security force multiplier, is literally just around the corner.

What is your view on the industry moving forward?

It is an exciting time to witness and contribute to the maturation process of our industry as we plunge ahead into IT-centric environments. However, as consultants, we must remain diligent in continuing to educate architects, developers and end users to the value-added benefits of including security in site selection, architectural programming phases, and network configuration requirements. The same applies to minimizing the disparities between our client’s IT and physical security managers perception of security, not to mention the never ending architectural door hardware coordination challenges we continue to experience.