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Public safety: Where physical security MUST meet with IT

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Friday, October 4, 2013

I had an interesting conversation about the convergence of physical security and IT a few weeks ago with Doug Louie of Smith Micro Software in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

When mobile devices started flooding the workplace it “caught IT folks like a deer in the headlights,” Louie said, but also caught in the headlights were physical security pros, who then had to deal more closely with their IT colleagues.

But that relatively new challenge is just the way it is. With BYOD and the fact that mobile devices change from month to month—when it used to be every year or year-and-a-half, Louie noted—securing connectivity in regards to physical security is of vital importance. That’s especially so when it comes to municipal security at the basic level—the police force.

Most police officers nowadays use laptops in their patrol cars for dispatch, for GPS to get to crime scenes most efficiently and more. Increasingly, officers are starting to use tablets and smartphones for those purposes, said Louie, senior director of product marketing, mobility management solutions.

What happens when the police officers are between cell towers and have to juggle between 2G, 3G, 4G, and wi-fi while still maintaining security protocols? The ability to stay connected while on the job is of paramount importance to public safety professionals, Smith Micro says.

The company has worked with large public safety departments, including the Washington, D.C., Metro Police to help them circumvent mobility challenges while officers are on patrol. The company’s product is called QuickLink Mobility.

“Officers are mobile,” Louie said. “They have different amounts of apps open. They can’t afford not to be connected. They can’t spend time re-logging in and remembering passwords.”

More and more, technology helps first responders protect their areas; without it, they can’t do their best to stop a bomber at a sporting event, a burglary in progress at the local convenience store or an active shooter at a school.

In D.C., officers are mandated not to use unsecure, public wi-fi networks due to hacking concerns. Smith Micro’s virtual private network solution enables ”our public safety partners to stay connected while in the field. We needed a reliable connection solution that allows access to data over a secure mobile broadband network,” said Jennifer Greene, director of D.C.’s Office of Unified Communications. “The Smith Micro solution offers a seamless transition between commercial mobile and secure wi-fi, as well as a platform for multiple operating systems.”

OUC provides centralized, districtwide management of public safety voice radio technology and other wireless communication systems and resources. It handles almost 2 million 911 calls each year.

Metal theft just won't go away

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Metal theft—especially theft of copper—is alive and well, unfortunately. Some 33,775 insurance claims were filed from Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2012, for the theft of copper, bronze, brass and aluminum, up 36 percent from the previous two years. Of those claims, 96 percent were for copper alone, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Ohio leads in that timeframe with the highest toll at 3,228 metal thefts, according to NICB. It’s followed, in that same timeframe, by Texas with 2,624; Georgia, 1,953; California, 1,888; and North Carolina, 1,682. This shows a 36-percent increase in claims when compared with the 25,083 claims reported between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2011.

The number of claims filed is found to have a statistically significant correlation with the price of copper, NICB said.

This year, thieves have stolen copper throughout the United Sates, including from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which disabled the approach lighting for one of the runways. Copper theft is suspected in an explosion this week at the University of California, Berkeley.

Four-thousand pounds of copper was nabbed from a New York power station, and in the biggest copper heist on record, more than six miles of copper was stripped from a Utah highway.

The full NICB report can be viewed here.

Free guns, anyone?

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Monday, September 30, 2013

ORLANDO—Homeowners in neighborhoods around this central Florida city have been offered a free shotgun from the Texas-based Armed Citizens Project, according to a report from the Reuters News Agency. Hundreds of residents have accepted the offer, the news report said.

A website for the group offered one free shotgun per household and said the project hopes to create "gun-rich" zones in moderate- to high-crime areas in the United States to analyze what happens to the crime rate when a neighborhood is saturated with guns, the news report said.

But Reuters reported that Ron Ritter, director of the Florida branch, said guns would be distributed to all comers instead of being concentrated in a defined location. He said the group expects to begin distributing shotguns "in the next 10 days."

Those wanting the free shotguns must pass a background check and take a firearms course.

Ritter told Reuters that the project also has branches in California, Illinois, Arizona and other states.

ASIS 2013: My third day

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Friday, September 27, 2013

 

CHICAGO—James Hughes of the North Texas Crime Commission has a lot going on.  Busy with his work for NTCC, he keeps adding more to his plate, like setting up meetings with telecommunications reps about anti-crime strategies.

Thefts of $5,000 batteries from TMobile and Time Warner facilities cost those companies $100 a minute, he told me during our talk at ASIS 2013. “And they get hit every day.”

“You can’t do things the same way as before. Put up the same camera and you’ll get a great picture of the guy’s hoodie,” he said.

It was great to meet James in person during my last day on the ASIS 2013 show floor. He promises to keep me posted on his latest doings. He’s really on top of all the latest tech out there and offers that up to his members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of the prime sites for organized retail crime.

At Johnson Controls, Sarah Zwicky talked about multiuse of security cameras, especially in schools and hospitals. I’ll be following up with her.

At Interlogix, Kostas Mellos , sales leader for video and transmission, noting the difficulties many companies have in migrating from analog to digital, said it’s not necessary to start from scratch. “Budgets are still tight, you can leave your old stuff and get new stuff, and we can now make it so everything works together.”

 

 

 

 

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ASIS 2013: My second day

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CHICAGO—Another great day at the ASIS 2013 show.

I had a reunion with Toby Heath, security division leader at C&S Engineers, one of Security Director News’ stellar 20 under 40 winners from last year. Toby is such a smart professional, and it was great to catch up with him about his work and his family over lunch.

I met with Motorola’s Jason Hutchens, solution engagement manager global services for government, and Alan Lopez, marketing director, public safety solutions, about the company’s Real Time Crime Center. The system, based on five-year research, allows law enforcement to make better decisions in the field, Lopez said. I sat in a patrol car and witnessed the technology firsthand.  It allows police to approach an incident with more operational intelligence than was previously available to them, including video, sensors, alarms, computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records.

Kim Rahfaldt from AMAG Technology gave me some great leads on future articles for Security Director News that I know you end users will appreciate. AMAG, which focuses on access control, video management and intrusion detection, provides security from two-door systems to the Pentagon, Rahfaldt said.

MicroPower Technologies hosted a much-needed end-of-the-day respite, and it was great to meet their reps and others at the event.

And there was more, all great fodder for future articles for Security Director News articles.

More tomorrow!

 

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ASIS 2013: My first day

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CHICAGO­—3VR, Cisco, Avigilon, Verint, March Networks, FLIR, Mobotix, Guardian 8 and more! Those were among the booth visits I made Tuesday at the 59th Annual ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits here.

Common themes among those I met with were making security cameras better and having them do more for actionable, business intelligence for a bigger ROI and taking the potential for human error out of the equation.

For example, 3VR’s Masa Karahashi, senior VP, engineering , and Cisco’s senior marketing manager Lindsay Hiebert and product manager Jenifer Piccioni told me about their products’ ability to troubleshoot, manage huge numbers of cameras and provide valuable “un-siloed”  data.

FLIR’s Mark Kline, business development manager for critical infrastructure in the western U.S., Latin America and Canada, talked about adaptive command through the company’s Cameleon and told me to look more into Skywatch, its manned mobile surveillance tower.

Avigilon was showing off its new Light Catcher, designed for hotels, restaurants, bars and other places that use low lighting. The cameras can capture colors in a way that others can’t in darkness or low light, said Ian Povey, director of product management and product marketing. Knowing if someone who just took a wallet from someone’s purse at a bar was wearing a red or blue shirt can be a big plus, he said. Avigilon had a very effective demo at its booth.

Verint end-users Rudy Wolter, director of North American security and investigative services for Citigroup, and Eric Biernatt, manager of public safety, physical and tech security for the Medical College of Wisconsin, talked about their success with Verint’s products across the verticals.

I also spoke with a Guardian 8 end user who is beginning to deploy the G8 ProV2, enhanced nonlethal device at his sites. (The end user did not want to be named as of yet, but he is from a nationwide company.) The deviceå provides a layered defense as an alternative to force from up to 50 feet away, including laser spotter, siren, strobe light, O.C. pepper spray, camera with voice and video auto-record functionality, push-to-talk communications capabilities, the company said.

It’s always nice to put faces to people I often talk with via telephone, so I stopped by the American Military University booth to meet in person my good source, Jeffrey Hawkins, manager of strategic initiatives for the private security sector.

I topped off the day with an excellent dinner hosted by Morse Watchmans at the Girl and the Goat restaurant (highly recommend!). There I had the opportunity to chat with colleagues in the security trade pub biz.

As an aside, I took a hilarious ride back from the show with nine strangers. It was a long route so I had the chance to get to know Tyler Sweatt from Toffler Associates, who served three years in Afghanistan. Great guy. We at Security Director News thank him for his service!

Now, it’s time for Day 2. Another busy day ahead. Stay tuned.

 

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Bases crank up security after Navy Yard shootings

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Friday, September 20, 2013

WASHINGTON—Security is tightening at some of the nation’s military facilities following the deadly shootings at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard on Sept. 16.

Extra security has been present at facilities in Maryland, Virginia and Oregon this week, news organizations reported.

The 142nd Fighter Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard added an extra security guard and tightened patrols, while a Walter Reed National Military Medical Center spokeswoman said security there had increased. She declined to offer details. Reports said visitors to Maryland’s Fort Meade may experience delays because of extra measures being taken at entrance security checkpoints.  

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Pentagon to review security at all U.S. defense installations worldwide and examine the granting of security clearances that allow access to them, The Associated Press reported. "We will find those gaps and we will fix those gaps," he told the news organization.

The attack at the Navy Yard raised serious questions about the adequacy of the background checks done on government contractors who hold security clearances, Hagel said.

Security all around, from Worcester to Chicago!

 - 
Friday, September 20, 2013

I spent Sept. 19 learning a lot more about ORC from Joe LaRocca of RetaiLPartners, Jon Gold of the National Retail Federation, Garth Gasse of RILA, J. Hart of the Force Training Institute and Jason Adams of Gap.

They, and many other informative pros, were at the New England Organized Retail Crime Symposium in Worcester, Mass. It was my first time there, and it was well worth the trip south. Presenters delivered up-to-the-minute news on topics that included technology, public-private partnership efforts and active-shooter scenarios to the New England retailers in attendance.

About 300 people turned out for this seventh annual event, which also included a small but impressive floor of exhibitors.

“Because the New England states are so close together, ORC is a big issue in the area,” Curtis Picard, executive director of the Retail Association of Maine, told me. It’s easy to hit one state, then quickly drive to another to do the same thing, he said.

Jason Adams announced at the symposium the formation of the New England Organized Retail Crime Alliance. You’ll want to read about this public-private partnership here.  I'll be writing more about the info I got later, because ...

Now I’m getting ready for ASIS International’s 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits next week in Chicago. I have some great appointments lined up with physical security end users and their vendors. About 20,000 security pros are expected to attend. And, there are way too many educational sessions I want to go to. I'll see how many I can pack in during my three days there.

There’s so much good information out there, and I will do my best to bring the highlights to you.

Let me know what you’re most interested in.

 

 

Off to the New England ORC symposium

 - 
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I’m off to the New England Organized Retail Crime Symposium being held tomorrow in Worcester, Mass.

The program at the conference, hosted by the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, Retail Association of Maine, Retailers Association of Massachusetts, Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire, Rhode Island Retail Federation and the Vermont Retail Association, looks great. It features Kevin Plante, chairman of the CVS/RAM loss prevention committee, Joe LaRocca from RetailPartners and representatives from the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, police departments and others, including dozens of exhibitors.

ORC is such a pressing issue these days, costing U.S. retailers $30 billion a year, so I’m looking forward to learning more about it—and what’s being done about it successfully.

I’ll be writing about what I learn, so stay tuned.

 

 

New tech at airport coming right up!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Tomorrow I am headed to my hometown airport, the Portland International Jetport, to see first-hand the new security technology in place to secure exit lanes.

The Transportation Security Administration recently mandated that a number of airports oversee designated exit lanes.  With recent federal budget cuts, the TSA now asks airports to upgrade security technology at their own expense. Previously, TSA guards monitored exit lanes, but many of those jobs have been cut.

The Portland, Maine, airport  is one of only two in the nation to implement the Exit Lane Breach Control Containment System from Tyco Integrated Security. Other airports are expected to roll out the containment system early next year.

With the system, airports can set up motion detection and surveillance cameras around exit doors.

I’ll be meeting with Paul Bradbury, the airport director, and Tyco reps to see how this system works, so stay tuned.

Update: Read about it here.

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