The Interview: Tiago Ferreira, Genetec
Tiago Ferreira, Genetec
Genetec’s business development manager ANZ, Tiago Ferreira, joins the electronic security industry after 18 years with the Australian Federal Police. Ferreira’s experience and hunger for innovation give him a unique operational perspective certain to benefit end users, as well as Genetec’s engineers.
JA: What’s your role at Genetec?
TF: I’m the business development manager for ANZ and the verticals I’m responsible for are law enforcement, the intelligence community, as well as security-focused government organisations, including councils.
JA: Tell us a bit about your background and the sorts of experiences you’ve had.
TF: Prior to this role I was with the Australian Federal Police for 18 years as a Federal agent, working across the whole of South East Asia, covering transnational crimes. This included things like people smuggling. I also did counter terrorism for 5 years and I’ve worked extensively on drug importation crimes. My role at AFP was the co-ordination of protracted investigations – finding criminals, investigating, arresting.
JA: What does this experience offer Genetec customers?
TF: I bring Genetec customers an end user’s perspective when it comes to the application of the Genetec solutions that streamline operations I am very familiar with. Additionally. I’ve always had an innovative mindset, and if using Genetec technology allows me to help law enforcement agencies and other government end users alleviate their operational pain points, I will feel I’ve succeeded.
JA: Police work and security work have differences but there is a cross-over, especially when it comes to the protective nature of both vocations – do you feel this?
TF: My passion when it comes to Genetec is that the company is focused on building safe cities and protecting the everyday, as well as protecting everyday people. That was one of the reasons I wanted to work with Genetec. In a way, I feel I’m still doing the protective work I did in my old role but instead of doing it for one law enforcement agency, I’m doing it for as many law enforcement agencies as I possibly can.
JA: What are the greatest challenges faced by law enforcement and other government end users, in your opinion?
TF: In all government sectors there are siloes – duplications of effort, reinventions of the wheel. Seeing what’s available from Genetec technology-wise it’s clear that this is something that requires education to give greater power to law enforcement and government end users whose main efforts might not go into their core roles but are instead being devoted to trying to make inadequate technology work for them. My role is to say: “I know what you are going through – I have been there. But did you know this technology exists and it can help you so much?”
For example, in one of my roles in counter terrorism, we used to have to gather video and photographic evidence from multiple sources and this process could take a whole week – time that was lost to process, rather than being spent investigating. But with products like Clearance, Genetec has the technology to handle this sort of work in 5 minutes. And that little piece of information – the existence and capability of the Clearance software application – can alleviate issues for so many end users. I want to tell law enforcement, intelligence communities and government users like councils, that there is an easier way of doing things, a smarter way of doing things.
JA: How did you and Genetec find each other? What was the process of moving from the AFP to a security technology provider?
TF: I was doing an MBA and realised there was much more that could be done when it came to applications of technology in law enforcement. I started to put out some feelers – I’ve always been interested in innovation and technology and without my knowing it at the time, that suited Genetec’s vertical focus.
Genetec had an idea about increasing the operational focus of its business – Genetec wanted to become more pointedly solutions driven – the team was open as to exactly how this would be achieved. In a sense, they decided to bring end users into the business to get a clearer translation of what their customers needed, as well as giving customers support from people who understood their challenges first hand.
JA: You certainly do bring a unique perspective – there can’t be many BDMs in the market with your suite of experiences and focus.
TF: In honesty, it was a daunting change for me – even the interview was challenging. I’ve always had a hunger for innovation but I’m not highly technical. I don’t understand everything about analytics software, network topology or servers. But the Genetec people said: “You don’t understand – we have plenty of people who can talk in great depth about our technology – we don’t want another technical person”.
Instead, Genetec wanted team members with an operational focus – in my case, a BDM with many years in the field able to translate in both directions – on behalf of customers to our engineers and on behalf of engineers to our customers. That means it’s no longer the engineers speaking with customers and struggling to understand real world issues from a technical perspective, it’s me, with my experience in the real world, communicating both ways.
JA: What has the feedback been from law enforcement and government end users – is the reaction positive?
TF: Absolutely. It helps that I love the intense operation focus of Genetec solutions. When I first joined and was shown things like Clearance and Citigraf (a decision support system for comprehensive response), I was like: “This really exists? People in law enforcement need to hear about this!” And the Genetec team laughed and said: “Guess what your new job is?”
In a way this made it an easier transition because I really saw the operational strengths of the different solutions I was discovering. I could say: “this functionality relates to counter terrorism, that functionality can help out with particular crime prevention techniques, and that functionality over here can help the police officer on the street go into a situation with an intelligence-led focus. By that I mean they are not entering premises blind, as they might have in the past, but have information about the situation allowing them to be adequately prepared. They know the action, they know the decisions required. This is what my role is – to make it easier for law enforcement officers to handle their work more efficiently and in greater safety, as well as to help keep the community safe. In the sense of helping law enforcement and government with real solutions, this role is perfect.
JA: You’ve mentioned a couple of products that are designed from the ground up to be used in law enforcement and policing applications – could you tell us a little more about them?
TF: Genetec has re-organised its business into application groups – small units within the company that have responsibility for creating new solutions that are more operations-specific. The products that have come from this operations focus include Citigraf – a situational awareness solution with a ‘correlation engine’ which allows security professionals to put together a lot of data from different sources and present it on a single screen—making it easy to understand. There’s also Community Connect – a partnership with private business and public law enforcement that leverages end user hardware and Genetec Stratocast cloud to federate that private video back to police.
A solution I particularly like from a law enforcement perspective is Clearance, which allows law enforcement or other organisations to collect and manage digital evidence from any source, as well as managing cases in a way that is secure, encrypted, that keeps the chain of custody, while allowing all possible evidence to be shared between private citizens and law enforcement personal. These are the platforms I have at my disposal to help law enforcement communities.
JA: Would you say that police are more open to the application of technology than they’ve ever been before?
TF: Police now are trying to develop intelligence-led policing – they’re certainly trying to figure out ways to streamline investigations. They are wondering how all data can be converted into actionable intelligence in a timely manner. Genetec has 3 pillars: Intelligence, security and operations. You need intelligence to ensure you can provide secure operations and that melds with what law enforcement is doing these days – law enforcement is great at collecting information but it’s a lot harder to decipher it in real time.
JA: When it comes to operations, what do you think end users need to focus most intently on to ensure the best possible outcomes?
TF: Well that all depends on the role of an individual in that operation. Whether an employee/subordinate or a decision maker, each person has their own responsibilities in performing their duties to the best of their ability in keeping the community safe. Front line officers have many worries when out on the street—and while the superintendent has toiled over these same worries many times, they also have a separate and different load of concerns to contend with.
But there is a commonality in all of this, everyone is working towards the same goal; a safe community and city. Therefore, they must all be working of the same operational page. Jonathan Lewis, chief of the Chicago Police Department, says it best: “we are data rich, but information poor…” Law enforcement now has many different information indices with volumes of information to analyse to make accurate decisions. Timely communication and collaboration using the same intelligence is one of the keys to successful outcomes.
JA: What big lessons did you learn during your time at the Australian Federal Police, Tiago?
TF: The main lesson that I’m proud to have learned and implemented in my AFP career is my earlier point, collaboration. Working well with others in the sandpit leads to successful results, quicker. No person is an island. Not only must they learn to share with others, but learn from others to improve themselves. It’s all about collaboration. The old AFP vision used to be: “To fight crime and win”. It was former AFP Commissioner Keelty who added one word to that vision and changed the attitude when it came to policing: “To fight crime together and win”.
JA: What message would you like to give Genetec customers in ANZ, as well as any end users looking for support to meet serious operational goals using technology?
TF: The answer comes back to what Genetec said to me, I wasn’t brought in to be a salesperson, but to be a former police officer helping others in law enforcement and government. What is brilliant about Genetec is that we are camera-agnostic, software-agnostic and an open platform wanting to collaborate with others to succeed in keeping communities safe. This means I’m not restricted in what support I can provide law enforcement and others. Whether it is improving on current technology, proactive measures for analytics, or discussions on innovative concepts, I’m constantly striving to help clients help their agencies to achieve their operational goals.