In a period marked by the relentless march of technological progress, corporate security professionals find themselves on the verge of a major transformation. The advent of cutting-edge technologies has ushered in a new era, promising revolutionary changes to the way teams operate. Even more daunting, these very technologies, while offering potent defensive capabilities, provide adversaries with new tools to exploit vulnerabilities.

So what does the future have in store? We recently had the chance to chat with Alan Saquella, Professor of Business, Security and Intelligence at the College of Business, Security, and Intelligence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In our conversation, Alan breaks down which new technologies he’s paying the most attention to and their potential to reshape corporate security.

In the field of corporate security, what new technologies have really caught your attention?

Alan Saquella: Drones represent a real game-changer. There are a lot of things that companies and intelligence agencies are now using drones for, specifically in the security industry. One example would be situations where your cameras couldn't reach because you don't have a cable, or the bandwidth and power aren't available in remote locations where there are security breaches.

For example, when I was in my previous position before becoming a professor, I couldn't reach a particular area of a parking lot that was several football fields away and had no power. I approached my vendor, and they introduced me to a company from Huntsville, Alabama, which had really cool drones. These drones could be dispatched from a nearby area and operated from across the country. It was impressive because someone with a license could fly the drone, dispatch it to where the breach was occurring, and control it remotely. The drone could hover over the suspect, even engage in a conversation due to its talk-down capability, which was quite effective. The suspect would think they were being observed by law enforcement, and they would often leave. These drones are becoming more affordable, making them accessible for use in remote locations where there was previously no coverage.

Another use case is for security assessments. At my current institution, Embry-Riddle, we acquired a drone to survey the perimeter and assess physical aspects of the property remotely from the air. This enables us to allocate resources more effectively and conduct risk assessments with greater clarity.

Additionally, drones are now being used to assess incident scenes, providing precise mapping and measurements, as well as high-quality imaging. Embracing drones has been quite productive, and with costs coming down, I believe most security directors and CSOs will consider using them.


What are some of the privacy issues of using drones?

Alan Saquella: You're going to have some privacy issues, and there are laws in the United States that restrict drone usage. You can't fly a drone over someone's backyard to look at their pool, for instance, without a valid reason. Just like any other form of surveillance, you need a warrant in some cases. 

However, when it comes to assessing a crime scene or a security situation, drones are often used legally and appropriately. The key is to ensure you have the proper licensing, trained personnel, and compliance with both federal and state laws. So, if you're using drones for your corporate property and adhering to these regulations, there shouldn't be significant privacy concerns. It's when you start venturing into private properties without proper authorization that issues arise.


How do you see the landscape changing for security investigations?

Alan Saquella: AI is going to revolutionize investigations by making them more proactive and efficient. 

Consider the use of smart cameras and AI, which allow for real-time monitoring and detection of unusual activities. If, for instance, a camera identifies an individual moving at a suspicious speed in a parking lot, it can trigger an alert to the command center. This proactive approach helps security personnel respond more effectively, as they can focus on genuine threats instead of false alarms.

AI and big data analysis also help security teams make predictive decisions, optimizing resource allocation and budget management. The integration of AI into investigations enhances their effectiveness and efficiency.


When you're talking with your colleagues, what are their attitudes toward AI? Are they embracing it, or are they a little worried?

Alan Saquella: It's a mix of both attitudes among CSOs. Some are enthusiastic about AI's potential to enhance security and investigations, while others are cautious, primarily due to concerns about job displacement. 

There's a fear that AI could lead to downsizing or the elimination of certain roles. However, it's important to recognize that while AI can automate certain tasks and provide valuable insights, human judgment and accountability remain crucial. Machines can't be held responsible for decisions, so there will always be a need for human oversight and decision-making. In reality, AI is a tool that can augment human capabilities, making security teams more efficient and effective.


You recently co-authored a new book, "Security Investigations: A Professional's Guide." Why did you take on this project? 

Alan Saquella: The trigger for creating this new resource was the realization that students were puzzled when they came across references to a "35mm film camera" in the old textbook. They didn't even know what that was. It turns out the old book was written in 1999 and published in 2000. So, these students weren't even born when it was first published.

A lot of things have changed in that time. Think about crime scene investigations and sketching. Previously, it was done manually. Today, a lot of security departments use drones. They can actually hover over the crime scene, do all your crime mapping and get some really good images for your investigation. It’s much quicker, more accurate. 

While the book now is written to help a younger audience that is looking to get into the field, it’s actually a great refresher for current investigators too. So from the CSO level, they should think it'd be a great resource to help their team brush up on the fundamentals.


Where can people find your book?

Alan Saquella: You can find my book, "Security Investigations: A Professional's Guide," (ISBN 979-8218962340) on Amazon. My co-author, Larry Nicholson, and I priced it affordably to make it accessible to those in the field who want to learn about new investigation techniques. 


Alan Saquella, CPP

Professor of Business, Security, and Intelligence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University


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