Lights! Camera! Action!—And Security! (A Perspective from Paramount Pictures) Part 1

Security Industry Association (SIA)

SIA Education@ISC West has produced a robust program of education sessions for those attending the biggest security products tradeshow in North America in Las Vegas on April 5-8. (Check out the full schedule and register for SIA Education@ISC West online at

One such fascinating panel will be found in the ISC West Opening Keynote: Lights! Camera! Action! How Paramount Pictures Delivers Enhanced Safety and Global Security While Driving Operational Efficiency and Sustainable ROI on April 6 at 8:45 a.m. in Room 701 of the Sands Convention Center.

There, attendees can hear firsthand from Scott Phemister, Executive Director of Global Risk and Crisis Management for Paramount Pictures; Jeff Reider, Senior Analyst for Global Risk and Crisis Management at Paramount Pictures; and Steve Tiffany, Director of Studio Systems for Paramount Pictures, who will share their success story with the installation of their global physical security information management system (PSIM).

Founded in 1912, Paramount Pictures is America’s oldest-running movie studio and has brought us many successful films throughout the years, including “The Godfather,” “Indiana Jones” and “Transformers.” Upholding the highest standards of business behavior and standards, Paramount also holds its global security operations in the highest regard, deploying some of the best and most innovative solutions. Mickey McCarter of the Security Industry Association (SIA) chatted with Scott Phemister and his team about their PSIM project and what they will discuss at ISC West.

Mickey McCarter: I was wondering if you guys might tell me a little bit about the project you’re going to be discussing at IAC West.

Scott Phemister: After about 2013, we came up with a security enhancement program that focused heavily on implementing a physical security information management system for a command center interface software solution.

The purpose for the overall project was to take our security services from what was kind of lot-centric and which only address really our population on our Hollywood lot and expanding its all of our assets around the world, which would include our international offices where we have about 15-20 locations worldwide.

We have about 12 productions that are going on around the world at any given time. Plus, we have publicity junkets and premiers and interviews with talent around the world. So there was really a major need for us to expand what we did on our lot to all around the world. So that the project entailed investing in systems to be able to support all of that. And while updating our global security operations center.

MM: Great! It sounds like you have a big success story to share.

SP: At ISC West, we’re going to talk about the whole project from start to finish and focusing on how to successfully implement a PSIM solution in a relatively short amount of time.
From the signing of the contract to rolling it out and going live, it was about three months. A lot of people have the thought that it is going to take years and years to roll out a project of that magnitude, but if you have the proper planning and the right partners, it really can be done relatively quickly. We were able to achieve financial ROI in three years. We were also able to achieve a risk reduction as part of our benefit.

MM: Outstanding. So to recap: How long did it take from the time that this was conceived until the time it was actually open and operating?

SP: Three months was the length of time to install it. We started about 2013 when I came aboard Paramount. My boss had the vision to take this from a lot-centric concept to a global concept. So we started that process at that time figuring out what technology we could use to get to achieve our goal of reaching all of our assets with the goal to provide security to all of our assets worldwide.

So that’s where the concept and the strategy started. Within a year, we knew wanted to utilize a PSIM to manage our systems. We had about 10 systems at that time. They were all disparate; none of them talked to each other. Our operations center was extremely inefficient because of the time and effort it took to respond to an incident anywhere around the world. It was something they couldn’t do with the technology that they had at the time.

By bringing in a PSIM, they were able to integrate all of the systems so now the operator was able to use one interface and have all the information that they needed at their fingertips without having to go search for it in multiple systems. Our goal was really to make it so operators could effectively and efficiently respond to an incident in a quick manner.

There are a few things we’re going to touch on as to how to successfully implement this project. There’s really a few things that you have to keep in mind. Number one is you have to have a methodology. So how do you want to respond to every incident? What information do you need to be able to respond to an incident? And then make sure you have the integration in place. So that the first one: having a clear vision of what you want and your expectations of information that you need.

Part of that is making sure that the systems that you have in place are capable of integrating into a PSIM so as long as they have an API or SPK in a published document where you can easily incorporate that information. The first step is having that strategy and methodology and making sure that your systems can support that.

The second one is the data collection: making sure that you collect all of the data points that you need—and that’s anywhere from everything that we have. We have intruder systems, fire alarm systems, panic buttons, duress systems, perimeter alarm systems—all of that is brought into it. We make sure that we have those all plotted out on maps with Google. It took about three months to collect all of that information.

The last step is prioritizing alarms, and making the system event-driven. You have to figure out which alarms can come in. The system has filtering capabilities through business rules. We were able to eliminate 90 percent of alarms that came through the system; we considered them non-actionable.

For more from the team from Paramount, visit the SIA Blog next week for the second part of our interview! Meanwhile, check out all of the offerings from SIA Education@ISC West and sign up online at

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts and/or profiles are those of the authors or sources and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Security Industry Association (SIA).