‘CSOs have shown interest in thermal technology combined with biometrics which allows employees to return back safely to work’

We spoke to Amit Kaushal, General Manager - Fire & Security, HBT Building India, Honeywell to understand the security technologies and products that have gained traction in the current scenario, to learn how COVID-19 has had an impact on those, latest products they have in the touchless technologies space and how they leverage the power of AI and automation, the paradigm shift in how people deploy these technologies across organisations, to understand the security technologies that have been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic from a CSO perspective and the ones that have been in demand since last year.

Amit Kaushal, General Manager - Fire & Security, HBT Building India, Honeywell

Interviewed by Adeesh Sharma

Which technologies and products have gained more traction in the security market, and given the current scenario, would like to learn from you as to how COVID-19 has had an impact on those?

I'll talk about the evolution of the security market in India, especially for verticals like government, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, airports, which have taken a more rigorous approach to safety and security in order to adhere to new compliances. While many organizations are undertaking steps like social distancing, contact tracing, etc., there is an emergence of new technologies that promote touchless interfaces. Examples include touchless access control systems, which are largely biometric-based and frictionless/mobile-based access control systems. Face detection technology integrated with access control software is also in demand. Honeywell is looking at these types of technologies and has been deploying solutions that entail frictionless access control, touchless access control that use mobile-based credentials and biometric solutions like face recognition. These solutions are designed to optimize convenience for users and create a cleaner, non-contact environment for occupants.

What are the latest products you have in the touchless technologies space and how do they leverage the power of AI and automation? Any paradigm shift you’ve seen in terms of deployment of these technologies across organisations?

If we talk about entry level products, they are largely touchless access control systems integrated with face recognition and authentication coming from a platform. We're using Pro-Watch and MaxPro as a platform and hardware connected to each other and complying with the guidance around social distancing and wearing of masks. Many companies have already adopted these technologies.

Organizations are now using either biometric or card-based systems. Therefore, what is happening now is that only a mobile phone is required to verify credentials and allow access. This helps avoid contact with surfaces in public spaces. Everything is personalized as one’s mobile phone enables one to enter a facility. When it gets integrated on a platform along with a camera that allows face recognition, it enables double authentication. Previously video or CCTV was a standalone system, while access control was separate. This system evolved when people started talking about ways to integrate video and access control so platforms could be developed to enable that. At Honeywell we're using the same platforms but what we can do is we are changing the background of the video as well as the hardware. Now, everything comes through the user’s mobile phone, which can be used as a credential to gain access. The Honeywell solution includes additional features with analytics that enable the system to count the number of people entering or exiting a facility, while also checking if they’re wearing face masks. Technologies such as this are finding wider acceptance nowadays.

Which are the security technologies that have been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic and some of the technologies we've already spoken about from a CSO perspective. Which are the ones in demand since the last one year?

We are learning and adapting to the new practices of social distancing and screening, and contact tracing. Because of the pandemic, the industries’ need has also evolved. The way we were looking at the security industry with respect to compliance that was probably laid down around 10 years ago has changed. I think there is a paradigm shift in the way we perceive security with new compliances coming into effect. Already, CSOs have shown interest in different technologies like thermal technology combined with biometrics, which allow customers to create a safer and expedited process for employees to return to work. If I take the example of Honeywell, as soon as people enter our building, their temperature is scanned by a camera using thermal technology. This is largely a thermal reader and thermal camera technology that is being deployed successfully along with existing applications. We are also using facial recognition which I have already talked about. I would put it this way—facial recognition technology along with integrated access control on a platform is what we offer, with frictionless entry as a differentiator. Many companies look forward to the software piece, which enables social distancing analytics and face mask detection. We have this technology too and can provide real time data and information on events such as gatherings, entry or exit of personnel from buildings, or adherence to social distancing norms in large open spaces. We have already implemented these technologies not only in Honeywell but also for customers across the world. Last but not the least are technologies that enable people counting and contact tracing. This is especially important in buildings with many occupants to ensure safety procedures and latest health guidelines are met.

What are your plans for the future and how do you plan to leverage Government of India schemes which promote domestic manufacturing?

We have been in India for almost eight decades now and have a strong presence of more than 13,000 employees across 20 locations. We have more than five thousand engineers in India. We have a large manufacturing footprint with three state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. One is based out of Gurugram. This is a world class hub for producing fire alarm systems. This caters to the local and export markets.  Apart from this, we have two manufacturing hubs in Pune and Dehradun and four technology development centers spread across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Gurugram and Madurai. Honeywell is a committed partner to India and we have been Making in India for several decades now.When COVID-19 struck, we were quick to pivot towards solving for the pandemic and the resultant lockdowns and remote working. From remote operations to industrial cybersecurity, and from healthy building solutions to personal protection equipment, we have a wide range of products and solutions. We look forward to expanding our portfolio to address the changing needs of our customers.