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Another reason not to go to church

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Monday, March 9, 2009

The fatal shooting of a pastor yesterday at a church in Illinois was not only alarming and tragic, but also a reminder that security has a place everywhere. To be honest, I had never really thought about churches needing a security plan. When I think of crime in churches I think of petty theft (keep your hand out of the offering plate!) or perhaps the occasional domestic-type incident, but shootings? An article from CNN discusses some of the security measures churches should have in place. Here's some excerpts:

"The church is really behind the secular world in terms of planning," said Jeff Hawkins, the executive director of the Christian Security Network.

... It's essential that a church must balance having a security presence while still keeping a house of worship open to everyone. "Some churches choose armed guards, some have a much more subtle security presence where you wouldn't even know it's there."

A church should have five security plans in place to deal with evacuation, long-term shelter, medical emergencies, lost or missing children and violent confrontations, he said.

"Every church is different so you need something that is going to work for that particular church's culture and size," he said. "And I think now, especially after September 11, people want to feel secure. They want to know if they bring their family somewhere, it's going to be a safe environment.

I also wondered, who's in charge of putting these plans together? I'm pretty sure most churches don't have CSO on the executive board.

Buyer beware

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Good news (somewhat) out of Florida. Authorities have shut down an organized crime ring that they say was stealing about $50,000 worth of baby formula EACH WEEK from six Central Florida counties.

Yes, that is a lot of formula. Here's the article from the St. Petersburg Times.

Choice paragraph:
Participants in the group would shoplift powdered baby formula, replace the labels to extend the expiration dates and take the formula to North Carolina, where it was resold.

It is extremely disturbing that retailers in this Florida area were being hit pretty hard by this ring, but that is almost minimal when compared to the potential health risk. Not only were they replacing labels, but I would bet big money that they did not keep these products at the ideal temperature or storage conditions — Gross. This is just a doctor's visit waiting to happen.

The worst part is that there is a market for discounted baby formula, especially in this down economy. People are struggling to make ends meet and find work (check this out). I fear that ORC is going to continue to grow because if things don't get better, market demand is going to increase, exponentially.

DHS gets its research on

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

DHS just announced this afternoon the establishment of two new Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs): the Homeland Security Studies & Analysis Institute (HSSAI) and the Homeland Security Systems Engineering & Development Institute (HSSEDI).

“The award of these two contracts will take the department one step closer to Secretary Napolitano’s goal of creating ‘one DHS,’ by providing a superb research resource for the entire department,” said Bradley Buswell, Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the statement.

Here's more from the release:
The HSSAI, will be operated by Analytic Services based in Arlington, Va., to provide mission-focused homeland security analysis and expertise focusing on program objectives, system requirements, and metrics. Analytic Services is a not-for-profit public service institute that provides objective studies and analyses of the national security, homeland security, and public safety communities. The contract will be for one year with up to four extension options for a total estimated cost of up to $269 million.

The HSSEDI, to be operated by MITRE Corporation, will provide advice on concept evolution, development integration, best practices in lifecycle systems engineering and management, and program-level technical and integration expertise across the homeland security enterprise. HSSEDI will focus on “how” DHS can reach its objectives. The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit organization chartered to work in the public interest with expertise in systems engineering, information technology, operational concepts, and enterprise modernization. The contract will be for one year with up to four extension options for a total estimated cost of up to $443 million.

Not really sure what this means for the security industry exactly. Will these two research centers provide more comprehensive information about security issues? Will they contribute to product innovation? I don't know. Any thoughts?

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Transitioning

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Let me say this, I like to shop (according to one person, it's a personality flaw). In recent weeks, I have definitely noticed retail traffic is seriously down and the sale signs are overtaking displays. It's tough out there and those who hold jobs in the retail sector especially are concerned about the future.

I was just talking with Paul Jones at the Retail Industry Leaders Association and he opined the same. Unfortunately, retailers are trying to cut costs and they are looking to LP departments first to make those cost savings measures. It's too bad because shrink numbers are probably going to go up substantially because of it.

Paul and the RILA gang have launched a LinkedIn group to help LP practitioners transition to new roles. Whether you are out of work, searching for a new opportunity or looking to hire someone with LP expertise (you vendors out there should think about this if you are tackling the retail market), this is a good group to get involved with. It's all about helping people transition and what better time to start than now.

(Also, here's a new video RILA has produced to promote their upcoming loss prevention conference. I have a feeling its going to be a lighthearted battle between NRF and RILA for best LP conference promotion.)

In case you didn't hear

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ASIS International announced that Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009 and National Security Advisor In George W. Bush's administration, will serve as the keynote speaker at its Annual Seminar & Exhibits in September. This year's event will be held Sept. 21-23 in Anaheim, Calif.

ASIS always seems to come out swinging with top-of-the-line keynote speakers. Last year, the organization lined up political analysts James Carville and Mary Matalin, and my personal favorite security event keynote of all time, Tom Brokaw.

ISC West is less than four weeks away and I don't know if they have announced a keynote yet. I was just on their web site and it's not easy to find. I even searched for 'keynote' and an error came up. Anyone have information on this?

I'll be interested to see how the exhibitor and attendee traffic sizes up for both ISC and ASIS. The rumor is that large companies like Johnson Controls and Cisco will not have booths at ISC. It'll be interesting to see if ASIS experiences similar withdrawals from long-time supporters. Either way, I'm looking forward to hearing some insight from Conde.

—Rhianna Daniels

Napolitano gets down to business

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Monday, March 2, 2009

You may remember a few weeks back when Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, issued an array of action directives to evaluate the health and workings of DHS. Well, the directives are in and last week Napolitano went before the House Committee on Homeland Security to discuss "the path forward" for DHS.

There was lots of good news for security manufacturers with a call for improved technology:

It is difficult to think of an area of DHS operation where a greater use of cutting-edge technology would not improve capabilities. Our border security efforts, port screening, transportation security, customs processes, immigration programs, and preparedness and interoperability efforts could all benefit from a strong push to develop new technologies and implement them in the field.

She also discussed transportation security issues.

The review identified a number of areas where risks to transportation security could be reduced. Resources such as explosives detection systems and transit, rail, and port security personnel contained in the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will enable the Department to accelerate the mitigation of risk in these areas.

Also, something I found interesting and evidently I had missed the issuance of this directive, was an evaluation of DHS's role in healthcare surge. I know I'm a little obsessed with pandemic flu outbreak and other healthcare preparedness issues, but I was surprised to see DHS involved in this issue. Napolitano stated that DHS's role would include:

DHS’s supporting role in coordinating response to such an incident, and how the Department’s preparedness and public communications efforts could better facilitate existing healthcare surge capacities.

Also, in case you missed Napolitano on 60 Minutes last night, here's the link (I couldn't get the video to play, but it could be my computer). It was a pretty frightening piece on the drug wars in Mexico, which basically concluded that the Mexican government is out-gunned, out-financed and often working in collaboration with drug cartels. Napolitano voiced concern that the violence will spill over into the U.S. and reiterated some of the points on border security.

School security still a community matter

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

So, I had a chance to sit down with Bob Hellmuth, the director of the department of school safety and security for Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. This guy has quite the job. He's in charge of ensuring that the county's 200 schools are protected and its 21,000 employees and 138,000 students are kept safe. I asked him about the biggest challenges he faces, which of course involved technology (we were at TechSec after all, so technology was on the minds of all in attendance) and funding issues, but the point I found most interesting and perhaps often overlooked was the challenge of working with the community. He said about half of parents and community members want to see more security in schools and think schools aren't doing enough to protect their children, while the other half doesn't understand why the school has to video tape their children. Hellmuth said trying to communicate with the public about his security program is a balancing act between addressing the security needs of the school system and the concerns of the community. Look for a video interview with Bob on sdnTVnews as well as a more comprehensive article in our newswire and April edition.

TechSec, day 2

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Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm a bit behind in posting my wrap-up of day two of our TechSec Solutions event because I spent most of the day traveling yesterday. I suppose I could have blogged on Wednesday night after the event wrapped-up, but I thought dinner and drinks were more important. Sorry ...

Anyway, day two kicked off with the Technology Lightning Round, a session that gave five manufacturers a chance to showcase their "cool" products to the audience. I was especially impressed with Vumii's camera, and Randall Foster's declaration that the company website is not "a porn site."

Next up was a great presentation by Paul Bodell, chief marketing officer for IQinVision and Bob Hellmuth, director of the Department of School Safety and Security for Montgomery County Public Schools. Bob outlineg the huge security overhaul Montgomery has gone through since it experienced a few issues — once a guy came to the school with roses expecting to meet a girl he met online and another time, a gun went off. Lesichen is working on a story on this for next week's newswire so stay tuned.

Although turnout to the Cyber Insurance session, led by Privaris' Steve McDorman, was light it is my humble opinion that people missed out. Steve talked about how a company's desire to have cyber insurance will affect the physical security of an organization. Although the process to gain this type of coverage is more confusing and cumbersome than I can tackle in this forum, the bottom line is that stronger physical security protocols can equate to lower policy premiums. Rob Zivney said he's going to steal this as a sales tactic.

The final panel of the day was all about standards: ONVIF, PSIA, Smart Card Alliance and SIA. These groups are fighting it out for the title of best standards group but I think it might be best for them to all work together to complete this task. Are many standards better than one? As an end user, do you care about standards? Or do you just care whether or not products are interoperable?

I, along with the rest of the team here, put a lot of work into TechSec over the year (sometimes more work than I put into the book!) and there are always some positive and negatives. The negatives this year? Attendance was down. The positives? Quantity overcame quality. As I look to 2010, all I really want is to figure out how to make people stay for the closing session. And let's be honest, that might be more challenging than figuring out this whole convergence thing.

TechSec, day 1

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Well, TechSec, part one, is done, but a full day still awaits the roughly 200 attendees here. People kept asking me if attendance was down and yes, it is. But everything is down right now and economic conditions are certainly at the forefront of everyone's mind. I've heard some people say that the security industry is recession proof but here at TechSec, that sentiment has been replaced by a cautious outlook for the rest of the year. But people were still having a good time here and the bar at The Fairmont continues to be the place to be after the show shuts down for the day.

The day started off with a keynote presentation by Jack Johnson, former DHS CSO, on IPv6. I had the chance to sit with Jack at dinner last night and have to tell you all that his stories about his past experiences in law enforcement, DHS and the Secret Service are not only incredibly interesting but extremely hilarious. This guy knows much more about security than technology and I wish that had been more prominently showcased in his keynote address.

Paul Novak, vice president of industry sales with Pelco, filled in at the last minute to talk about applications for IP technology that will add value to the business. You've heard me talk all about this stuff before — using traditional security technology for non-traditional applications like retail traffic analysis and workforce optimization — but Paul is much more engaging on stage than I could ever be. My hats off to Paul and my thanks to him and the Pelco team as well.

I really enjoyed the presentation from Dave Fowler from VidSys, Sid Hasan from Motorola and Eric Borton with the Arlington Texas Police. Eric and the rest of the force in Arlington recently beefed up their camera system because the Cowboys are coming to town as well as the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game. When the force found out the stadium was going to be built in the city, it did not hire one additional police officer, it added cameras to augment its existing force instead.

More to come today including some SDNtvNews videos. Stay tuned.

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'Integral guys' buy Pelco access biz

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Sam beat me to the punch on this one so I'll just direct you to his blog for all the details.

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