January 31, 2023
Motional is a U.S.-based company that’s revolutionizing driverless technology and making autonomous vehicles a safe, reliable, and accessible reality. We spoke with Jason Wynhoff, Workplace Security Analyst at Motional, about how real-time crisis alerts play a role in helping the Motional fleet of vehicles and dispersed workforce stay safe so they can do their best work.
Note: Jason’s answers have been slightly edited for clarity and brevity but you can hear his full comments by watching the video.
How does being reactive to emergencies impact an organization?
Prior to having samdesk, our real-time threat monitoring and disruption monitoring was lackluster at best – to be frank. We would keep an eye on local news channels and hope we'd get phone alerts, while also relying on the folks that were actually out in the field driving the vehicles to notify us of incidents that were affecting them, so we could try and warn the rest of the fleet. That is a very reactive posture to take and it means we've already got at least one person in a situation that we don't want them in.
What challenges did you face when manually monitoring for disruptive events?
I think the fundamental issue you run into is that you have one person who's entire job is basically sitting there hitting that refresh button on their computer. You have one person who's trying to monitor all these different feeds, different channels and different groups, and the reality is something is going to get missed – especially if you're trying to monitor more than just a local feed for information.
We have sites in multiple cities and states, and trying to monitor locally as well as nationally is an unrealistic burden to put on one person. Inevitably, by the time we find the information we need, we’ve lost whatever time we would have had to try and prevent our personnel from being exposed to that risk.
How has samdesk changed your ability to identify emergencies more efficiently?
Samdesk has been the lynchpin in the development of our GSOC program. Being able to utilize it has given us access to feeds that we weren't monitoring previously and has made it possible to respond to information much faster than we had been able to previously.
We are able to support our operations in a much more efficient manner. We've been able to notify our personnel of incidents throughout the cities where we operate, whether it's criminal activity or infrastructure damage, anything that could impact our fleet and our operations.
We've been able to have a much quicker and more efficient response because of it, and the difference has been noticeable – it’s put a positive spotlight on security. Often if there's a spotlight on security, it's because there was an issue that they wanted us to prevent. So, being able to have any kind of positive recognition has just been fantastic.
How have real-time crisis alerts improved your operations?
The GSOCs get the initial alert and we have given our GSOCs a fair amount of authority to determine that next step. I don't want them to be waiting to hear from me at three in the morning about what to do next. Part of utilizing this system is giving our teams the authority and the responsibility to make that next critical decision.
So, they notify security leadership, any impacted divisions and, depending on how big the event is, our c-suite. We then make recommendations to operations and will try to let them make that decision as to what they'd like to do next, but if it's an emerging incident and we can’t wait for a secondary decision, then our GSOCs have the authorization to send out those mass comms saying, “hey, this is the next step, this is what we're doing to get everybody to safety.”
The reason we’ve been able to operate so effectively in these situations was the time we had gotten back to work on those preparations and plans. And that time we had gotten back was because we didn't have personnel that were sitting there basically just hitting F5 over and over to see what the news updates were. We can refocus their attention to help us have these plans put into place, so that when we do have to operate we have a playbook to work from.
What is an example of using a real-time alert to get ahead of a crisis?
A couple of months ago in Boston, our operations were impacted due to a gas leak near one of our sites. This was prior to our workforce coming on site for the a.m. shift. So our GSOC on the East Coast was able to pick up the notifications from samdesk, reach out to security leadership and to the operations management, and we actually diverted all of our personnel away from the area. They were moved to secondary operations, rather than having them stuck in an area that wound up being locked down for about 5 hours before they finally cleared the scene and gave the okay for folks to travel in and out of there.
Never mind the impact to operations or our workflow, that’s 5 hours of our personnel potentially being at risk inside an area where there could have been serious physical harm and we were able to move them out of that situation.
What value has samdesk brought to your team and your organization?
The number one thing for us as far as the value we've gotten from samdesk is the responsiveness. I attribute a lot of the success we've had in building out this program to samdesk and being able to use it as a showcase any time I need to show leadership why the GSOCs exist and what value it brings to the table.
Check out the full conversation between Jason, and samdesk Founder and CEO James Neufeld on YouTube on the changing landscape of the security industry.