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Farewell, Secretary Napolitano

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday was Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s last day on the job, which she held since 2009.

DHS held a send-off ceremony for her, at which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden praised her accomplishments and thanked her for her service.

Lord knows she had a big job to do, fraught with controversy over the years, but with some successes as well. Biden and Holder both brought up the fed’s response to Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings.

Napolitano is moving on to become president of the University of California System, although Biden apparently thinks he’s got her next career move in mind.

He said today, according to CNN reports, that he would like to see her on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Napolitano was the third DHS s Uniecretary and the first woman to hold the position.

Before that, she was governor of Arizona.

We wish her well, we’re sure the new job will be a tad easier—we hope, for her sake—than managing 22 different disparate agencies and overseeing 240,000 employees.

Access control just a heartbeat away?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Your heartbeat just became the latest biometric. Who knew?

Biometrics are pushing into areas never dreamed of. Electrocardiograms could possibly become your pathway to future access control at your place of work.

Cardio rhythms were discovered 40 years ago to be unique, dependent upon a person’s heart shape and size and other factors, according to Karl Martin, CEO of Bionym.

Toronto-based Bionym, specializing in biometrics, authentication technology and identity services, has just launched Nymi, a bracelet that provides identity through cardiac rhythm recognition. Passwords, pins and locks will be eliminated as a result, the company says.

Bionym was part of an inaugural cohort of the Creative Destruction Lab at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. It spun off from the university in 2011.

Nymi is first being aimed at tech-forward thinking consumers, Martin told me in an interview, but down the road he has enterprise customers in mind, too.

“There has been no shortage of interest from enterprise security,” Martin said. “It’s wide open right now. In the end it’s all ID security. We just want to make it simple, and the idea is that it is very simple to interface with. It would be extremely simple for [enterprises] to integrate.”

Access codes and key cards? They’re just proxies for ID, he said.

If his technology becomes prevalent, he said, a new employee at a company could use this converged form of technology not only for personal use but for the workplace, too.

Privacy is a chief concern. Every user will have complete control over data and identity, Martin said.

The Nymi, according to a prepared statement from the company, functions as a three-factor security system. It requires your personalized Nymi, your unique heartbeat and a smartphone or device that has been registered to the app, which will be available on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OSX. This system, and the biometrics supporting it, allow for complete security without compromising convenience, the company says.

What do you think?  Do any of you security pros see this in your future? Please keep me informed. Thanks. 

60 more airports get TSA Pre-Check

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WASHINGTON—The Transportation Security Administration announced today that it will expand its expedited screening program to 60 new airports in addition to the existing 40, bringing the total number of airports with TSA Pre✓™ to 100. These airports are expected to have TSA Pre✓™ lanes at select checkpoints by the end of the year.

The agency also will expand the number of TSA Pre✓™ lanes and availability at the existing 40 airports in the coming weeks.

TSA Pre✓™ is an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes. To date, more than 15 million passengers have experienced TSA Pre✓™ since it launched in October 2011.

“As TSA continues to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to transportation security, we are looking for more opportunities to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said in a prepared statement. “Expanding TSA Pre✓™ to more locations enables many more passengers across the country to experience expedited screening.”

Passengers who are eligible for TSA Pre✓™ include U.S. citizens of frequent traveler programs invited by participating airlines. Additionally, U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler program and Canadian citizens who are members of CBP’s NEXUS program qualify to participate. Later this year TSA will launch an application program, allowing more U.S. citizens to enroll in TSA Pre✓™.

Eligible passengers traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America may receive expedited screening benefits. JetBlue and Southwest are expected to begin participating when operationally ready.

For more information on the program and the new airports signed up for it, go here.



Under 40? Exceptionally talented in physical security? Tell us, please!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I've just reviewed the latest entries for Security Director News' 20 under 40 Awards. Every year we honor young professionals under the age of 40 in the physical security industry, and this year we've gotten, as always, some great nominees. A big thanks to all you nominators!

We haven't made any decisions yet, because the deadline hasn't arrived, so please take some time over your holiday weekend to think of the up-and-coming security pros you know who deserve to be recognized for their hard work, initiative, tech-savviness and accomplishments. (And yes, you can nominate yourself.)

For the 2014 TechSec conference in Florida in January we'll again be choosing four of the winners to participate in a topical panel discussion, which is always a highlight of the meeting. People in the industry want to know, need to know, what's on these winners' minds.

Here's a link to the TechSec conference page and here's a link to our most recent winners.

We can all stand to learn much from these young pros. Who do you know? Put the spotlight on them. Nominate them here. And thanks.


Georgia school clerk 'deserves a medal', spurs controversy

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I wrote an article last week about the school bookkeeper in Decatur, Ga., who talked down an armed man who entered an elementary school there, apparently by tailgating.

I talked with, among others, nationally known school security consultant Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, who is opposed to strategies that involve students and staff confronting active shooters. The teachings of the “Run, Hide, Fight” method and the A.L.I.C.E. Training program, embraced by many school districts across the nation, are questionable at best, he says.

“Run, Hide, Fight,” which advocates fighting as the last resort, is funded by the Department of Homeland Security through a project funded by the Regional Catastrophic Planning Initiative. You can watch a video about it here.

A.L.I.C.E., a private, critical response training company, specializing in active shooter and violent intruder events, was founded by Greg and Lisa Crane. He has a background in law enforcement and as a SWAT team leader and with the U.S. Army, among other relevant positions. She has been a 30-year teacher, counselor and principal at all school levels. The husband and wife team set out 13 years ago to train educators how to respond, proactively, to violent intruders.

Both of these tactics are controversial, but my local police chief in Portland, Maine, stands by “Run, Hide, Fight.” 

A comment I received on that story from Joseph Hennigan, a former, longtime law enforcement professional and now a consultant for S&B Engineers and Constructors in Texas, was thought-provoking, to say the least. He thought Trump’s comments were way off base.

I gave him a call to follow up. The first thing he had to say: “That lady in Georgia deserves a medal around her neck.”

Then, we spoke about his response to Trump’s and others' comments about the “Run, Hide, Fight,” strategy, which you can read here. In a nutshell? He questioned Trump’s intelligence, and, he agreed whole-heartedly with the Portland, Me., police chief's comments on "Run, Hide, Fight."

Hennigan had more to say, which was meaningful, but I’d like to hear from more of you. I want to follow up on this controversy. What is the best training strategy for school staff? Or workplace staff, for that matter.

Call me, at 207-846-0600, ext. 227, or email me at I’d really like to sort this out and start a discussion for you security pros out there. Should you run, hide and fight? What are you telling your employees? I want to know. Thanks.

Police officers safer using hand-held drug analyzer

Monday, August 26, 2013

As a detective in the Quincy, Mass., Drug Control Unit, Brian Coen is concerned about police officers’ safety when they’re out on the streets confronting drug dealers and users.

Quincy, a city of about 100,000 next door to Boston, has a drug problem. Its police force, with 240 officers, deals with opiates, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and, most recently, the emergence of “bath salts,” the street name for dangerous drugs containing synthetic cathinones.

“Officer safety is paramount to us,” Coen told me during a phone conversation.

A portable analytic device from Thermo FisherScientific is helping the Quincy Police Department, as well as other police departments and U.S. Customs agents nationwide, identify bath salts and other drugs right on the streets without harming themselves.

TruNarc v1.3 can identify up to 30 different types of the latest bath-salt threat, along with its previous library of analytics for other drugs.

I can’t help but think how this new technology could be useful in other verticals beyond law enforcement and border patrols. Wouldn’t it be a great fit for K-12 schools and campus security? Hospital ERs and other high-risk workplaces? All want to protect their security personnel on the job. And some of these drugs, such as bath salts, can work their way into your system just by touching them.

“First and foremost from a user standpoint, many of these substances we don’t have to touch now. We can scan through plastic bags of cocaine, crystal meth, bath salts. This method is quick, safe and fast,” Coen said.  Previously, officers had to use a vial system to determine what drug they were dealing with, he said. \

Another positive is that TruNarc can be synched to a PC, allowing officers to scan information onto their computers. With TruNarc software, they can add other details that are particularly useful in filing their reports for court cases, he said. That’s a time-saver, he said, so they can get back out on patrol and secure the community.

Coen, a consultant for Thermo FisherScientific, has traveled around the country as a certified trainer for TruNarc. “Buzz is getting out there about the device,” he said.

He has trained police forces in Florida, Alabama, Texas and California; U.S. Customs agents in Miami; the DEA at Quantico and in Maine; a counter-drug task force in Pennsylvania; and other law enforcement entities to use the device.

TruNarc is based on Raman spectroscopy—an optical technique that compares the scanned material to a library of known substances, much like a fingerprint is compared to a database of known fingerprints, the company said. TruNarc can be updated by the manufacturer to stay ahead of emerging drug threats. For example, as new synthetic cathinones are introduced to the market, the manufacturer can update the TruNarc library, as was done with the TruNarc v1.3 release, the company said.




Schools embrace panic buttons

Thursday, August 22, 2013

At least 400 schools in 12 states, from Maine to California, have armed teachers with panic buttons for the upcoming school year, according to a report I read in the Wall Street Journal.

When pressed, the panic buttons, installed in front offices, under staff members’ desks or on pendants that administrators and teachers can wear on their persons, alert local security personnel or 911 dispatchers to get to the specific school immediately with “no questions asked,” the newspaper reported. “Some also panic-button systems also send text messages to administrators and announce an alert over the school’s intercom system after 911 is called,” it said. Obviously, this system should be activated only in the most dire of emergencies.

The systems cost between $300 and $800 for each button.

I spoke with Chris Dorn, an analyst for Safe Havens, the international, non-profit campus safety center, about the Decatur, Ga., school gunman incident the other day, and the topic of panic buttons came up.

“We’re not big fans of spending a lot of money” on school security, he said, “but panic buttons can be really helpful. The caveat is that the staff has to be trained in how to use it. And, does it go to on-site security or to 911?”

New smartboard systems in classrooms, Dorn said, include a pendant that the teacher wears. That pendant includes a panic button, which when pressed immediately calls the front office and/or police. Some can actually then turn on surveillance cameras from the board, as well. Others are bulletproof, such as those recently installed at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

“That pays for itself in academic returns. That’s the kind of thing we’d like to see,” he said.

Still, there’s no better school security preparation than proactive scenario training for the staff and drills for the students. You can read Dorn’s thoughts on the Decatur, Ga., incident here.


ORC, copper/cargo theft and public/private partnerships, oh my!

Monday, August 19, 2013

So I was on vacation last week, a nice “staycation,” that is. Of course, I do live in Maine, aka, Vacationland.

I returned to work this morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to find an email inbox filled with messages on what topics? Not lions, tigers and bears, oh my! But ORC, copper and cargo theft and public/private partnerships, oh my!

I shouldn’t be so surprised; this is not unusual. These seem to be the hot topics in the physical security industry these days, which I will do my best to cover. I’ll be attending the ASIS International conference next month and hope to get more insights about the tech out there to help with the crimes and hear more about the partnerships that seem to be so successful.

Meanwhile, if you have comments or suggestions on those topics, or would like to pose some others that are of utmost important in your vertical right now, please get in touch with me.

I’d truly appreciate your input.

Back Bay Security Network pays off

Friday, August 9, 2013

I recently interviewed Boston Police Superintendent William Evans about his pivotal investigative role in the aftermath of last spring’s Boston Marathon bombings.

Evans, a keynote speaker at the recent NCS4 conference, told me that without the help of the Back Bay Security Network [BBSN], which meets monthly with the BPD, things could have turned out a lot differently. The bombing suspects were captured within a week.

Private video surveillance at the finish line helped law authorities identify the two suspects, and “we know all the cameras in that area,” thanks to that private-public partnership, Evans said.

Today, I spoke with the co-chairman of the Back Bay Security Network. Alan Snow is director of security and safety for Boston Properties’ Boston Region, as well as co-chair of Boston’s Building Owners and Management Association.

Here’s what he had to say:

“The partnership between private security and the Boston Police Department was never more evident than in the immediate aftermath of the marathon attack. Within an hour of the bombings, BPD officers obtained copies of surveillance video from multiple businesses along the marathon route on Boylston Street. Detectives knew exactly which businesses had surveillance cameras and to whom they should reach out to obtain the footage they needed to begin their investigation. In addition to the investigatory tool provided by surveillance coverage, area businesses also provided law enforcement with logistical support, including staging areas on privately owned roadways for mobile command centers and vehicles, as well as conference room space at major hotels. Local restaurants and supermarkets also opened their doors to investigators, patrol officers and tactical teams, who worked tirelessly for days after the attack.

“In addition to the Back Bay Security Network, the International Lodging Safety and Security Association [ILSSA], which is another longstanding private-public sector organization in the Boston area, was also very active during the aftermath of the marathon attack. One example is that the Westin Copley Place hotel ballroom quickly became the primary venue at which overall command and control was established by the governor, mayor and senior law-enforcement commanders in charge of the response and mitigation of the incident. 

“Private-sector businesses in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston have a strong history of cooperation with the Boston Police, Fire and EMS, as well as other public agencies dating back to 1996. This relationship and the ongoing collaboration and exercises not only provided crucial testing of each entity’s respective emergency plans but also enabled invaluable networking by and between law-enforcement officials and private security managers at Boston’s area businesses. 

“Consequently, private security and law-enforcement officials could dispense with the usual verification and validation process on the day of the incident since a level of familiarization and trust between the private and public sectors had already been established through years of interaction, cooperation and information sharing.”

Snow also credits his associate of 25-plus years, John Tello, who has been directly associated with Snow’s work at BBSN.

We are thankful for the police work, the private-public partnership's assistance and the end to the Boston area’s tumult. Thank you, dedicated security pros!





'20 under 40' update ... the clock is ticking

Monday, August 5, 2013

I was just looking at a photo from the 2013 Tech Sec conference of the "20 under 40" winners, which I have pinned on my bulletin board. I was remembering what a great panel disucssion we had with four of our "20 under 40" winners and how great it was to get to know all the award-winners in attendance. We had quite a mix, from retail, critical infrastructure, health care, corporate and more.

So, I'm once again reminding [notice I didn't say nagging] you that the Sept. 1 deadline to nominate your up-and-coming security pros is coming up fast. We already have a very qualified bunch of nominees, don't get me wrong, but because we at Security Director News are always looking for the cream of the cream of the crop, we'd like even more. Make it more difficult than ever for us to choose! For the 2014 conference in January we'll again be choosing four of the winners to participate in a panel discussion.

Here's a link to the TechSec conference page and here's a link to our most recent winners. Adam Williams from Diebold, Chad Pohle from Montage Laguna Beach resort, Scott Starkey from the Birmingham, Ala., Water Works Board, and Ryan Knisley from Wal-Mart were our panelists last year. Their discussion was one of the highlights of the conference, according to attendees who evaluated the seminar.

We can all stand to learn much from these young pros. Who do you know? Nominate them here.