Protecting people is an enormous responsibility. Fortunately, by integrating the latest technology that is disrupting other industries, innovators can make the monumental and highly complex task of keeping people safe more efficient. This is important because the more seamless this task can be made to be, the safer we can keep people.
This is precisely what Verkada, a Silicon Valley Unicorn, is doing. They started just over five years ago with the mission to protect people and assets at scale by building physical security solutions that integrate seamlessly behind a single, cloud-based software platform. Today, they are already trusted by over 10,000 organizations.
To learn more about Verkada, we talked to Dervilla Lannon, a member of their executive team and Vice President of People.
Aspioneer (A): Thank you for being with us today Dervilla. We think that our readers would benefit from understanding how physical security technology has changed over the years. Could you give us an overview of its evolution?
Dervilla (D): It’s great to be here. Security systems have progressed since the days of an alarm sounding when an intruder triggers the system. Back then, on-premise video cameras were primarily used as a reactive technology: after an incident, video could be reviewed for evidence. The only option for real-time monitoring was to have security personnel keep a close eye on the camera feeds, which was ultimately not scalable, as a security team can only monitor so many things at once.
Today, by leveraging the latest technological advancements such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, our solutions can support security teams by proactively alerting them of potential threats – thereby reducing response times and allowing security personnel to intervene and defuse a potentially dangerous situation before it occurs.
"Employees' enthusiasm and passion for their jobs is inspiring and energizing to be a part of on a daily basis. Employees are unquestionably our most valuable asset"
Aspioneer (A): So we can better understand the platform, can you share an example of how this comes to life?
Absolutely, let me share an example of one of our school customers whose security was a paramount concern for them as they were located in a neighborhood with high crime rates. When we began working with the school they had three main security challenges: (1) Their existing cameras had grainy footage at the front gate, which meant that unintended guests were sometimes buzzed in and allowed onto the premises. (2) They spent thousands of dollars on costly false alarms. Not only were these non-emergency alarms a major strain on their staff and emergency resources, it was costing $5,000 dollars every year for false alarm dispatches from the police department. (3) Their existing guest check-in system was insufficient and time-intensive to keep up with.
With Verkada’s integrated solutions, we were able to address their key challenges, as well as more widely improve the security on campus. We did this by:
Providing a clear view of all activity on the premises: Using Verkada cameras and a 52” Viewing Station, the school can stream up to 300 camera feeds to any display with ultra-low latency, crisp video playback and customizable layouts. Their cameras – located at all exterior doors, interior hallways, stairwells, parking lot, driveway, and kindergarten building – can now all be viewed in real-time and with crystal clarity.
Keyless remote entry for intelligent access: With Verkada’sAccess Controland Door Readers installed across campus, the school can manage doors, users and schedules across the entire campus and staff. This has resulted in significant cost savings.
Integrated guest management to track visitors: With the most recent integration of Verkada’s guest management platform, Verkada Guest, the school can easily check-in guests and have a better understanding of what visitors are entering the building. Further, hosts are automatically notified upon guests’ arrival. This has maximized the efficiency of school staff as the product allows visitors and volunteers to select check-in flows based on guest type and prints badges.
Wireless intrusion detection to reduce false alarms: With Alarm Sensors installed across all primary doors on campus, the school now has a better, simpler and more cost-effective process to manage intrusion detection. All from the administrator’s mobile device, they can quickly investigate alarms raised by events, rule out false alarms, and escalate real threats to the police if needed. This helps to ensure that potentially dangerous issues receive the attention they need and saves the school thousands a year.
Securing more classroom doors with integrated locks: To enhance the school’s emergency response, Verkada integrates with Allegion Schlage’s wired and wireless locks family to tie more doors into the Verkada ecosystem. With wireless locks, the school is able to increase visibility and control over interior classroom doors while eliminating the need to run additional wiring through them. In the event of an emergency, the school administrator is able to reduce response time by initiating a lockdown from any computer via Command, or any mobile device via the Command app. Only designated staff members have the ability to activate and release a lockdown, and different scenarios can be created to address different event types – such as active threat or shelter in place.
Finally, our solution allows for the integration of all the safety measures under a singular plane of glass within Verkada’s command platform – making the job of keeping the school safe much easier than before.
A: On a personal note Dervilla, what made you want to join Verkada?
D: In addition to our products and the tremendous impact they can have, I truly believe that what distinguishes Verkada is our people. Employees’ enthusiasm and passion for their jobs is inspiring and energizing to be a part of on a daily basis. Employees are unquestionably our most valuable asset (and I’m not just saying that because I’m the VP of People)!
When I met the CEO, Filip Kaliszan, I knew I wanted to be a part of the team. His vision to create not only products that protect people, but also a truly successful company, impressed me. When I met Filip, I was looking for a way to advance my career in an area where I could make a difference. Prior to joining Verkada, I worked in the legal and financial technology departments of the world’s largest asset management firm for over ten years. I was fortunate to work at a financial technology startup that had been acquired, which gave me a taste of Silicon Valley and prepared me for my next opportunity. I was ecstatic to be joining a hyper-growth tech company focused on the safety of people and assets.
A: Can you tell me more about your role and what you have accomplished in your role thus far?
D: As the VP of People, I am charged with ensuring that we maintain our purpose-driven and inclusive culture as we continue to grow. I’ve spearheaded the launch of a number of initiatives to ensure that Verkada creates a positive work environment, as well as acts as a strong corporate citizen. For example:
Verkada Gives: Verkada believes that contributing to society reflects our values. Verkada Gives was officially launched in the first quarter of 2021 with the goal of giving back to the communities in which we live, work, and operate.. It has been a privilege to be a part of this initiative and to collaborate with organizations whose missions align with our own, which is to protect people, assets, and privacy. As a team, we recognize that we are still in the early stages of our company’s lifecycle, and that our philanthropic efforts are in their infancy. As an organization, we are committed to expanding our footprint by engaging employees in volunteer opportunities, donation drives, and community outreach. To date, we have focused on providing donations and supplies to combat COVID-19 by funding a mobile vaccination and testing clinic that serves underserved Bay Area neighborhoods. We have also supported a number of charities in California and Hawaii that help survivors of human and sex trafficking, among other worthy causes.
Fostering an equitable and inclusive workplace: As the company expands and our employee base becomes more diverse, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and expand our employee benefits in order to attract and retain diverse talent. This year, we aligned our offerings, including parental leave, with Silicon Valley standards, and we went above and beyond the vast majority of companies by introducing fertility benefits for all employees, regardless of gender. We recently completed a gender pay equity review, which will be repeated biannually.
Continued investment and the formation of new Employee Resource Groups: In Q2 2020, we formed three employee resource groups: Women at Verkada, Pride at Verkada, and the Multicultural community. These groups demonstrate our commitment to creating an environment in which everyone feels a sense of belonging. The formation of the three initial communities was a first step toward that goal — groups that aim to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment by providing a common connection and network. We added Parents at Verkada in Q4 2020 to provide a forum for working parents to connect, share resources, and socially support one another.
Implementation of health and wellness initiatives: The pandemic has highlighted the undeniable interconnectedness of work, family, and life – as well as the need for employers to prioritize their employees’ overall well-being. To address this, Verkada doubled down on employee wellness by launching our inaugural Wellness Month, which took place in March 2021 and focused on four main themes: physical, mental, financial, and environmental wellness. Furthermore, we hosted global step challenges, which brought together teams of employees from all over the world in a friendly competition, with everyone ultimately benefiting from being more connected and active. We’ve also recently launched Verkada Fit, our newest employee community aimed at promoting our employees’ physical and mental well-being.