The expanding frontiers of internet-enabled, data-driven physical security spell opportunity in odd places for Rob Merkwitza. The former state manager of Brisbane-based Bridge Point, which was acquired by Telstra in 2014, established his own company, RIOT Solutions, in late 2015. Merkwitza has set his sights on locking down newly enabled internet-of-things devices and legacy gear that has been modernised with IP networking.
“There are all sorts of tech out there in the physical security space but none of it really means much until it is connected to the internet – and connected correctly,” Merkwitza says. This last element lies at the heart of RIOT Solutions. The startup plies trade in the secure digitisation of devices; from piping analogue CCTV into modern network data feeds, to the highly specialist art of locking down leviathan SCADA (supervisory control
and data acquisition) systems controlling critical utilities.
In the physical security space, Merkwitza and his team shut down attack vectors by first closing the gap between engineering and development teams. RioT Solutions is something of a marriage counsellor, he says, between the 25-year veteran SCADA engineer and the pony-tailed tech geek. Bringing the forces together requires some serious talent and, to this end, Merkwitza says he is lucky to have secured hackers with the right skill sets.
Enterprises are deploying biometric locks, police are rolling out data analytics and governments are dabbling in all manner of physical security systems as cities become smarter. The gaps between technologies new and old are where Merkwitza and his colleagues see opportunity.
“As this market expands, we’ll see more businesses in this space,” Merkwitza says. “But if they consider it just another information technology problem rather than operational, they’ll be kicked out the door. Not that I want to tell everyone that secret.”