Tuesday, October 19, 2021

5G transformation is throwing security industry into a scramble for contracts

When the advent of 5G networks takes root, wireless carriers are betting that law enforcement, public safety, firefighters, first responders, and security businesses — as well as companies like companies like Home Depot — will embrace the faster speeds and lower latency that are the hallmarks of the next generation of wireless. But the evolution has already spawned controversy because it has thrown carriers into a scramble for contracts for law enforcement, fire and security services at critical facilities.

It’s happening at big airports like T.F. Green, New York City’s LaGuardia and Newark Liberty, and major corporate facilities like AMC Theatres. But it’s also taking place in the emergency response space and as the Security Business Conference in New York gets underway this week.

A panel at the event’s opening session Wednesday titled “5G coverage: Communication gaps in mission critical services” heard about some of the growing demand for 5G-enabled security communications systems at hotels, airports, broadcast facilities, and other government installations. Dora Ripley, CEO of Edmodo, a global communications platform that has 10 million users, said in her talk that many hotel chains are building 5G soft buildings that will have distributed networked communications systems that can quickly get authorized responders inside a building to respond to a disaster.

“This is going to revolutionize how we interact with the future,” Ripley said, noting that 5G is becoming a reality faster than many thought. She then asked panel members, all prominent CEOs and executives in the area of security, what they thought the response to 5G would be from law enforcement.

Steven Von Rautenkranz, CIO of Pace University, said in a video of his interview at the panel that the shift to 5G will mean increased engagement with the public and law enforcement.

“This will take place at the point of entry, not at the site,” Von Rautenkranz said. “We need to increase our engagement with the public.”

Von Rautenkranz added that users need to realize that it’s going to be a gradual transition over the next five to ten years.

“One bad apple is going to make it harder for everybody else,” he said.

Others on the panel echoed that sentiment, including Christopher Conti, CTO of Evolve, a company that has partnered with 5G-focused providers including T-Mobile to equip emergency responders with 5G equipment.

“If you look at emergency services around the world, everybody is aligning with 5G,” Conti said. “We are in a challenging environment with a lot of new types of infrastructure. It’s much more difficult than expected to do this kind of upgrade and make sure that there is every one of our plans and every deployed operation perfectly calibrated for that.”

Andrew Park, CEO of cloud security provider Elastic, discussed the challenges he’s seeing as a participant in the 5G evolution. In his talk, he said that not enough security firms are working in close partnership with wireless providers to make sure that stolen identities and government records aren’t inadvertently resold or compromised, as they can with gigabit Wi-Fi.

“We are going to hear more about this heading towards the network,” Park said. “We need to be prepared. We need to be prepared.”

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