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SJUK Exclusive Interview: Peter Greener, Milestone Systems


Peter Greener, Key Account Manager – Northern Europe, Milestone Systems speaks exclusively with Security Journal UK.

The concept of flexibility has changed drastically over the last few years. Work patterns have shifted and so too have the workspaces themselves, emptying out rapidly and refilling at differing paces post-lockdown.

For the education sector specifically, there is a generation of students who have suffered serious disruption to their daily learning routines. Whether they were attending sixth form classes or crowded lecture theatres before the rise in COVID-19 in the UK, there is no doubt that – in spite of the technological advancements made to accommodate flexible home-working – limited face-to-face learning and socialising with peers has had a significant impact on levels of engagement and, perhaps more importantly, levels of enjoyment.

Now, more than ever before, students attending schools, colleges and universities should therefore not have to worry about their safety – and the seamless integration of state-of-the-art technologies is the answer. One company who is putting the future at the heart of what it does is Milestone Systems, whose Video Management Solution, XProtect® is helping universities to build long term security strategies, supporting the needs of individuals in unpredictable times.

To learn more about XProtect and how Milestone is leading the way in the education and campus security sector, Security Journal UK spoke exclusively with Peter Greener, Key Account Manager – Northern Europe.

Working together

In Milestone’s Higher Education eBook, Les Allan, Chairman of The Association of University Chief Security Officers, explains: “It’s vital to remember that safer campuses attract students and that reputation management is as important as asset protection.” This is a perspective not only shared by the team at Milestone in principle but is reflected in practice through their key partnerships with major universities across the UK.

“We have created an eBook on education which explores the different challenges that the higher education facilities and universities we work with are facing,” remarked Greener. “We want to help education providers use video technology to not only help with all aspects of physical security and the associated cybersecurity implications, but to also understand that video technology can be implemented beyond security.

“Cybersecurity is and always will be a big focus for us. Our goal is to help universities and campuses safeguard themselves against malicious activity and achieve peace of mind in the process. We also want them to be able to enjoy all the benefits of a futureproofed open platform. With so much new innovation and technology coming to market, a flexible platform with a range of robust API’s is a must.”

By providing universities with an open platform that can accommodate both legacy infrastructure and the latest innovations, Milestone is able to work with the technology of the past, present and future. Lots of major educational institutions in the UK operate with outdated equipment and software which will need to be replaced or integrated into a new system. Milestone’s flexibility offers support in overcoming both challenges.

“Sadly, we sometimes see customers trapped in a ‘proprietary prison’ where they are bound by the innovation capacity of a single VMS provider and are unable to harness the collective benefits available through an established technology community,” Greener added.

“For example, one of our large university customers had lots of existing analogue equipment but because of the flexibility that Milestone brings, we were able to give them a platform that could accommodate it, whilst at the same time granting them the freedom to choose new and currently unknown technologies coming to market.

“They also used our unique PowerShell interface to speed up and standardise the deployment to meet both the security and IT teams’ needs – as well as being able to export information from their Milestone installation into their own BI engine for reporting on what the system was doing for them and further justify the spend. We’re very much about empowering the customer to use the system as they need to.”

“A key thing we have seen develop is the role of cloud computing and hybrid-cloud setups. Milestone is malleable enough to change shape; as the IT department migrates to a cloud setup, they’re able to move the items that make sense either architecturally or financially to the cloud whilst keeping other components on-premises. We’re also able to integrate with VSaaS deployments, if desired. Sometimes we find with campuses that as well as having large lecture halls and open spaces, they might also house smaller, more private buildings with fewer cameras and are therefore better suited to a VSaaS setup.”

As in many sectors, the budget has a major impact on the security strategies adopted by most, if not all universities, campuses and higher education facilities. Increasingly, those trying to ensure effective security are looking to get more and more out of the solutions they adopt as part of their infrastructure.

Greener described how the company works closely with prospective and current clients to ensure that they get the most out of their security investments: “When we speak to customers, we often involve other non-security stakeholders so we can explore opportunities for process optimisation and automation, the key goal being a solid return on investment.

“Another challenge has been the ability to make quick configurational changes and adapt to new threats. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, some of our customers took advantage of Milestone’s flexible rule engine and put new rules in place to suit their new surroundings. For example, pre-pandemic, the wide open spaces for people meant that individuals themselves were actually part of the security arrangement. Then, as the pandemic hit, all of a sudden there was an empty campus – however, Milestone customers were able to quickly define new rules specifically tailored to their new normal.”

A family of solutions

Milestone’s XProtect product range is designed to cover everything from small, single-server setups to large corporate deployments. What is so important about Milestone’s leading solution is actually what it doesn’t do.

As an example, Milestone doesn’t pretend to offer a best-in-class access control solution. Instead, it partners with access control specialist vendors so customers can avoid compromise and combine best-of-breed video technology and access control together. Milestone accommodates a variety of technologies that ensures endless possibilities for customers.

In a university setting specifically, license plate recognition is useful for automating entry to allocated parking areas. Moreover, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people counting has been another demand so that loitering and unnecessary interaction can be minimised.

“At the end of the day, it’s about having a platform to enable the tailoring of multi-vendor solutions to meet individual needs,” continued Greener. “That said we are continuously building core functionality into our platform; we have the new integrated Management Server Failover as part of the latest release and more developments on the way in Q2.

“Another big release is Milestone’s XProtect Rapid REVIEW which received an extremely positive response when we demonstrated it at the recent AUSCO conference at the University of Leeds. Rapid REVIEW enables operators to search for all kinds of things like, appearance similarity, the direction of people walking and bicycles. Operators can even combine filters to search for something as niche as a person in a red top wearing blue jeans walking in particular direction. This capability allows operators to speed up an investigation and find what they’re looking for much, much quicker.”

The future is now

Milestone has been and always will be open. The company has never made its own cameras or access control solutions. Milestone is a platform designed for integration and whilst Greener admits he does not know all the technology that’s going to come to market in the next decade, or the next hundred years, he boldly claims that nobody else does either and this is where the open platform approach really comes into its own.

The way video technology is evolving simply amplifies the importance of open architecture. If there was ever a time when a single manufacturer might struggle to maintain quality across all disciplines, it is now. Greener elaborated: “We are doing all we can to make the idea of openness more robust and viable.

“There might be some security innovations that come to market that people are going to want to integrate to make their lives easier and safer. However, futureproofing and openness now goes way beyond the world of security.

“Milestone Marketplace is huge for us because, in order for a technology partner’s solution to be on Marketplace, the partner needs to have their solution technically verified by Milestone and fully documented. There is active collaboration between the companies to make sure that the solutions are supported properly. We also have a community management team across the globe whose job is solely to make sure that Milestone and its technology partners are suitably engaged.

“By combining these components, not only does it mean that customers can have a futureproofed solution, they’re also getting the predictability that they would expect from a single vendor. The whole way our system architecture works means that universities don’t have to change their IT environments to accommodate us. It just fits nicely into their existing infrastructure, which I think is really important. No end user should be expecting a VMS company to demand that they bend their IT environment out of shape to accommodate their software.”

Universities aren’t just about having the best courses anymore or the best lecturers – safety is extremely important. Whilst security is always going to be one of Milestone’s core focuses, Greener is aware that the use of video technology for non-security specific applications is becoming increasingly important, particularly as budgets are narrowed: “If you look at how costs are coming down and technology capabilities are rising, there are many more technically and commercially viable things that you can do with your video tech.”

To find out more information about Milestone, visit:

This article was originally published in the May edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.