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Florida and guns at the airport

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quick, at which Florida airport do the most loaded-gun confiscations take place at security checkpoints or after being found in checked luggage?

No, not Miami, which serves 19.6 million department passengers per year. And no, not Orlando, which serves 17.5 million. It’s the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, which sees about 12 million departees on their way each year.

The Broward County airport has received this ranking for the second year in a row. So far this year, the TSA has intercepted 38 guns at Fort Lauderdale in both checked luggage and at the checkpoint. That compares to 35 in Orlando and 30 in Miami, according to a report in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

Last year, 42 firearms were intercepted in Fort Lauderdale, compared to 29 in Orlando, 23 in Jacksonville and 14 in Miami, the newspaper said.

For the record, travelers with gun permits may only transport unloaded firearms in a locked, hard-sided container or as checked baggage. All firearms, ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames and receivers, are prohibited in carry-on baggage. And all must be declared at check-in. All of the gun-carriers in Broward had concealed weapons permits, officials said, they just didn’t follow the right protocol.

No one's is quite sure why Fort Lauderdale comes in "first" on the list. The article points out that at New York's JFK, one of the busiest airports in the nation, only one gun was spotted.




Zombies and security

Friday, October 25, 2013

 “If you are prepared for a zombie invasion, you are prepared for anything,” Devan Tucking-Strickler, human services officer-deputy State Emergency Operations Center manager, told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Sounds about right to me. I’m not big into zombies—don't understand that craze at all—and have never seen “The Walking Dead.” (Although I did love the "Triller" video, I say, aging myself.) Still, I’d like to know what to do if I happened upon one of these undead folks.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management, as I write, is about to begin its third annual Zombie Preparedness Fair, a three-hour interactive event today aimed at educating the public about emergency preparedness.

“So, we want to give you information and ideas to consider when making a home emergency kit and developing an emergency plan so you’re ready for tornadoes, floods, blizzards or even zombies,” Tucking-Strickler said in the news report.

The newspaper reports, “A new feature at this year’s event will be a ‘Zombie Quarantine Area’ to hold people who become ‘zombies’ if they are unable to answer preparedness questions. They may become human again by successfully answering questions.

"Participating agencies will be providing informational brochures, family disaster plan wallet-cards, disaster kit labels, activity books, stickers and other items. Guests will visit different stations to learn about food storage, preparedness on the go, building a disaster bucket, automobile preparedness, building a family disaster plan, conducting disaster drills and more. There will be games and activities for the kids, prize drawings and a zombie walk at 7 p.m.

"Participating agencies include KDEM, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Fred the Preparedness Dog, Shawnee County Medical Reserve Corps, Medical Reserve Corp of Douglas County, American Red Cross, Northeast Kansas Regional County Animal Response Team, Shawnee County Emergency Management, Shawnee County Community Emergency Response Team, and the Kansas Wing of the Civil Air Patrol."

I know a number of communities host these zombie/emergency events. But somehow the thought of this one in Kansas—think cornfields and such—gives me more of the willies.


Not again?

Monday, October 21, 2013

So I’m sitting here in the office after my lunch break outside on one of the most gorgeous autumn days in Maine when I read the news: “Middle school shooting in Reno, Nev. Two dead, two injured.”

As I’m writing this, it appears that the two fatalities were a teacher and the “student/suspect.” There was no word yet if the student/suspect was killed by law enforcement or if it was self-inflicted, CNN reported.  USA Today reports, however that the shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two male students were seriously injured. The last I read, one was in serious condition, the other in fair condition.

The school, Sparks Middle School, has about 700 students in seventh and eighth grades, reports said.

Thankfully, all other students were evacuated safely.

I'm even more heartsick because I've spoken to so many of you knowledgeable, caring security professionals who have worked to protect our children at their schools, be they pre-K to university campuses. know of your efforts.

But this alleged shooter was in seventh or eighth grade? Making him 12, 13 or 14?

When will this stop?


ASIS conference attendance grows

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—It’s official. Attendance was up by 5.5 percent at the 2013 ASIS conference, held last month in Chicago, the organization reports. Good news for ASIS, great news for the industry.

The 59th annual conference drew 20,600 security professionals from 76 nations, and more than 640 companies were on the exhibit floor. Nearly 200 educational sessions were held, too. No wonder I have barely caught up since my return!

It truly was a productive, action-packed event. If you missed it here’s a roundup of the visits I made along with Martha Entwistle’s from Security Systems News.

Next up on the conference circuit for me is our very own TechSec Solutions, coming right up in January. I’ve just started to speak to my “20 under 40” award winners in preparation for that, so stay tuned. Again, a great “class” of your pros.


Municipal Security: Next-generation location technologies

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Bhavin Shah
Marketing and Business Development, Polaris Wireless

Public safety and security provide significant growth opportunities for the location industry, in applications ranging from criminal surveillance to emergency response. But not all location solutions are alike, and some work better than others in powering the next-generation efforts of law enforcement and private security organizations. The two technologies most in use today are:

· Global Positioning System-based location systems. These require GPS receiver chipsets to be included in the caller’s mobile device. GPS solutions take relatively longer to locate a target resulting in possible life-threatening situations for emergency callers. GPS solutions work well in direct line-of-sight conditions with the satellites, such as suburban and rural areas, but are challenged in dense urban areas and indoor environments where most calls originate.

· RF Pattern Matching [RFPM] is a network-based positioning method based on radio-link measurements collected from the network, using the device’s own radio signals to identify its location and eliminate any dependency on satellites or other hardware. RFPM is able to locate all callers across any air interface and in any environment, eliminating limitations related to the phone type or network technology. RFPM works extremely well in non line-of-sight conditions, such as dense urban and indoor environments, and is highly reliable for mission-critical applications.

As high-accuracy wireless location solutions become increasingly prevalent in public safety applications, law enforcement organizations are finding new and creative uses:

· Gunshot detection. As profiled in a recent 60 Minutes episode, the Springfield, Mass., police department deployed a location-based application called ShotSpotter that detects the sources of gunshots using acoustic measurements, detecting over 4,000 gunshots in the first two years it was deployed, leading to more than 25 arrests.

· Augmented reality. Imagine an officer approaching a suspect location. By using location technology interfacing with court and police records that have been geo-tagged, the officer can instantly access all outstanding warrants, arrest records of persons living there, and other useful information to better assess the situation before he enters the building.

· Facial recognition. An officer can photograph a suspect in the field under surveillance and upload the photo to headquarters where it is instantly analyzed. The suspect identification and related information (criminal record, arrest warrants, known associates) is then relayed back to the officer, providing a real-time snapshot of the suspect and better equipping the officer.

· License plate reader. When tailing a suspect vehicle, an officer can scan license plates and check against a database to determine if the car is stolen, has been used in a crime, belongs to a crime suspect, etc. The location application can also alert other officers in the area if backup is required and determine the most optimal routes to intercept the suspect vehicle.

· Crime heat maps. Location technology can be used to create crime “heat maps” based on public safety statistics to identify concentrations of various types of crime, such as auto theft and burglary, and respond accordingly. The officer will be alerted when he has crossed a virtual geo-fence into such a hotspot so that the officer can prepare and respond. Similarly, headquarters can filter and analyze geo-tagged events such as arrests, 911 calls and more to determine patterns and better allocate resources.

Location-enabled solutions for security applications help protect the public and law enforcement officers, and they are cost effective, often resulting in smarter use of resources. Most importantly, high-accuracy wireless location technology gives public safety organizations an advantage over criminals and opens new doors to more advanced applications in the future.

Bhavin Shah leads the Marketing and Business Development activities for Polaris Wireless. He can be reached at: (408) 492-8900 or


San Francisco Bay area welcomes, tracks surveillance cameras

Friday, October 11, 2013

Here’s an interesting twist on municipal security cameras.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, people are being asked to register online to point out where they’ve seen security cameras. The initiative, from and CommunityCam has been successful previously in Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., according to founder Josh Daniels.

The goal is to allow runners, bikers and walkers to plan safe routes, those that they know are under surveillance, Daniels told NBC Bay Area

So far, more than 1,000 cameras have been mapped online in San Francisco and another 1,000 in Oakland and surrounding East Bay cities, the NBC report said.

Privacy concerns have not been an issue, Daniels said. “In fact, we’ve seen quite a dramatic appreciation for the tool,” he told the news station.

I watched the TV broadcast and those members of the public interviewed did, indeed, appreciate the cameras’ coverage. They feel safer, they said. I wonder how much cameras’ role in solving the Boston Marathon bombings played a part in that.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr praised the initiative as being a tool that will help his department get good video evidence and have a better chance at moving cases forward. It’s a “gift that keeps on giving,” he said.


So a 9-year-old boy walks onto a plane …

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No, it’s not a joke. But it is absurd! And somewhat frightening, really.

Last week, a Minneapolis-area child without a ticket, or an adult handy, or an unaccompanied-minor pass, boarded a Delta flight to Las Vegas. It was only when the plane was airborne that the flight crew became suspicious and called authorities in Las Vegas, who took the boy into protective custody upon landing.

Delta officials told news outlets that they are looking at video surveillance and gathering other information to understand how this could happen and to ensure it doesn’t happen again. You think?

The TSA says the boy was screened at the security checkpoint. But without a boarding pass? I’ve traveled many times with my son and his boarding pass has always been required. Were the TSA agents just not looking as the 9-year-old circumvented the guards that check ID’s and boarding passes? Great! And what about at boarding, when you have to get your boarding pass scanned before entering the jetway?

There are lots of reports flying around out there about the boy’s past brushes with the law, and that he has a history of dangerous behavior and had sneaked into a water park before. But as his father told the New York Daily News, "My son is not a terrorist. He's a 9-year-old, misunderstood, but very intelligent young man. How do you … let a 9-year-old sneak past your system without checking him, questioning him, talking to him?"

Well, let’s consider ourselves all lucky that he is just a 9-year-old with behavioral issues and not, indeed, a terrorist, or a terrorist’s weapon. Let me just repeat, a 9-year-old.

Be safe out there.

Apple's Campus 2: Security of top concern

Monday, October 7, 2013

Landscape security and tight perimeter control will figure strongly into the proposed new 2.8-million-square foot, Apple Campus 2 in northeastern Cupertino, Calif.  The company hopes to occupy the Pentagon-sized building in 2016.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the goal of the campus is to  "[a]chieve the security and privacy required for the invention of new products by eliminating any public access through the site, and protecting the perimeters against trespassers."

That includes Apple’s request to close a road that goes through the middle of its two-parcel, 176-acre site. That hasn't gained it any more fans among the locals.

It also objects to the city’s request that it add a public trail along a nearby creek. “Apple has indicated that the fundamental objective of a secure campus would be compromised with the provision of a public trail immediately adjacent to or through the project site. Even with security and design measures such as fencing, Apple maintains that such a trail through a portion of the site would pose security risks because Apple has been the target of intense scrutiny regarding its future projects. Given that Apple’s research and development facility is to be located at this site, perimeter security that will afford privacy is a fundamental objective," the company said in response to an environmental impact report, according to the newspaper.

Relocating a tree is also on Apple’s objection list.

I have calls into Apple about these and other security plans for the project, but they have not been returned. I hope to have a follow-up with more information for you. 

Meanwhile, here’s the article and renderings of the new building, which has been referred to as a “spaceship.” Worth the look.





Public safety: Where physical security MUST meet with IT

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

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.