Interview with Honeywell: Smart & secure

Security Middle East caught up with George Bou Mitri, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Building Technologies, META to talk about how smart technologies will be essential in ensuring business continuity over the coming months

How are large-scale IoT-based projects such as smart cities being adversely affected by the economic downturn due to the pandemic?

Large scale, longer term smart city projects encapsulate all the benefits of a digital transformed society and support the development of future urban environments. At the core is ensuring the safety and security of citizens and so factors around health and well-being are already considered in these longer term plans. For brownfield sites, with smaller scale smart projects, some of the challenges presented by the ‘new normal’ are being more readily addressed. What is most critical is demonstrating the opex efficiencies and supporting the delivery of strategic digital transformation goals over and above this.
As a pioneer in the evolution of digital operations, Honeywell is helping all affected parties embrace the shift to digitalisation, by supplying our technology to more than 10 million commercial buildings worldwide. By understanding and applying the diverse range of technology platforms at our disposal, infrastructure operators and occupants can adapt quickly to the shifting requirements and disruptions that are inevitable during these times.

1. Tell us more about the smart city project that Honeywell is involved in Egypt for the New Administrative Capital?

The concept of the New Administrative Capital in Egypt was born with the purpose of solving existing issues such as congestion, overcrowding and pollution. The Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), the developer for the New Capital located 45km to the east of Cairo, is collaborating with Honeywell to roll out city-wide security and surveillance systems as part of the first phase of the project’s development. As part of this, Etisalat Misr and Honeywell will also establish a City Operations Center (COC) to provide citizen services at the New Capital. The central COC platform will include data analytics, a city-wide management dashboard, a smart city services citizen engagement portal, and mobile application capabilities. This will support administrative functions and deliver smart city services for citizens, as well as public and private sector entities, in the new capital.

Honeywell technology will also power advanced management systems for smart parking and smart utility services for electricity, water, and gas, including street lighting, smart metering, smart grid monitoring services, and integration with smart digital signage management, billing, and financials systems. In addition, the technology deployed will include Honeywell’s latest cyber-proof services.

Honeywell is extremely active in the aviation sector. What role will security technology play in making airports more efficient in the post pandemic environment? 

In the ‘new normal’, airports and airlines will require focus to support business continuity, where the safety and fitness compliance screening for staff, passengers and partners is essential. Security technology, in particular, will play a key role in making airports more efficient in the post-pandemic environment. Security systems are an important asset when it comes to helping keep occupants and airports safe. Video analytics, for example, can provide insight into how spaces have been used and can help to predict where and when occupants encounter each other or congregate. Such foot traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices – like ventilation and temperature controls – and even help owners create social distancing plans and monitor PPE compliance.

We recently launched a range of ‘Healthy Terminal’ solutions to help airports resume operations in the ‘new normal’, whilst reassuring staff and travellers. They are part of Honeywell’s Healthy Buildings portfolio, fully integrated air quality, health, safety and security controls, backed by expert services, to help building owners comply with new hygiene and social distancing policies. The solutions can enable safer terminals by improving air quality, ensuring ventilation and temperature controls, increasing filtration, as well as incorporating UV solutions, all of which help improve sanitisation in terminals. Our systems can aid thermal screening and PPE compliance checks, thereby reducing queues and crowds to support social distancing. We can also enable terminal operators to centrally monitor and secure all areas of the airport terminal including baggage handling and parking, among others.

What role does AI play in Honeywell’s airport technology systems? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions are reshaping airport technology systems and can allow the sector to reap greater benefits through increased operational efficiencies within terminal and airside processes. AI algorithms and big data analytics support our fully integrated airport solutions to deploy technologies that help provide a more efficient, healthier and comfortable passage through an airport terminal. By understanding and applying the diverse range of technology solutions at their disposal, airport operators can quickly adapt to the shifting requirements of the industry. The technological infrastructure supporting Honeywell Forge, an analytics software solution that provides real-time data and visual intelligence, also allows for integrated and secure facility operations and maintenance approach by leveraging big data and machine learning capabilities.

How is Honeywell helping airports to keep their systems operational in the current situation when access to most sites is difficult?

Specifically for airports, now more than ever, extra measures and precautions are being taken to improve the wellbeing and security of passengers travelling through airports and airport staff. Industry bodies such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) continue to issue guidelines and recommendations on improving safety and security in airports. Maintaining hygiene, sanitisation and social distancing are especially critical in airports where typically large numbers of people from different parts of the globe are constantly passing through. Improving indoor air quality has also become paramount.

Honeywell is working across its businesses to quickly develop solutions that are helping critical sectors of the global economy, like air travel, recover. We are committed to providing our customers with the best technology to keep equipment, processes and systems running despite the changing and challenging business conditions. Honeywell enables operators to connect to their critical systems, remotely and securely. An example of this is Honeywell SecureConnect, a solution that enables authorised remote access to systems in a secure and safe manner, enabling successful responses to issues and the carrying out of preventative maintenance offsite.

How important is cybersecurity becoming for airport management systems and how is Honeywell supporting its customers in this area? 

With the aviation sector reliant on internet-enabled solutions, cybersecurity is a critical element of airport management systems. We are increasingly integrating OT and IT infrastructure to include improved productivity and safety for data-driven insights, as well as enhanced capabilities to automate the monitoring and maintenance of remote assets. We have created a framework with five areas of focus including secure configuration, design and cybersecurity monitoring, as well as remote management.

Our secure configuration and design framework use many of our best practices to help harden the physical, network and application layers. This in turn helps in implementing a securely designed OT infrastructure which offers users a reduced potential cost and risk to OT. Cybersecurity monitoring and remote management are also vital to ensuring the proactive monitoring and periodic reporting of any breaches. By understanding and applying the diverse range of cybersecurity solutions at their disposal, airport operators can better navigate their way to more cyber-secure operations.

What are the most challenging issues for airport security in the current climate? 

One of the biggest challenges facing airport authorities is ensuring the safety and well-being of travellers and employees in the airport. For instance, at airport check in, this provides an opportunity for additional screening as they interact with baggage systems and check-in counters. Whether it’s queuing and processing, security, immigration or boarding – managing the safe passage of people requires careful consideration. Our Healthy Terminal solutions support airports resuming operations, whilst reassuring staff and travellers.

Deploying cutting-edge technology and innovation into the airports particularly in the design and planning stages will remain a focus. In these challenging times, there has been a rapid response to support the sector with the development of capabilities and solutions. In terms of air quality, new solutions have been created to ensure ventilation and temperature controls. There are also technologies that manage humidity, pressurisation, filtration, as well as Ultraviolet (UVC) solutions that all help improve sanitisation, cleaning and air quality in terminals. On the safety and security side, we have technologies that can be used for people counting, managing the flow of passengers, temperature screening as well as touchless access control and face mask detection.


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