‘Fusion’ is the Future

It takes a sharp systems integrator to identify trends and deliver the types of solutions users need, especially with constantly changing technologies. But with an eye toward what it calls an ongoing ‘fusion’ of security technologies, Los Alamos Technical Associates Inc., (LATA) in Chicago is on target in delivering security and advanced systems development and integration to its high-profile customers.

LATA, a well-known entity widely recognized with its corporate headquarters in Los Alamos, N.M., was established some 35 years ago and now has 10 offices in key locations in the U.S. LATA is a diversified engineering and technical services company serving a worldwide client base. As a consulting and IT-based company, its expertise includes video and analytics, access control and biometrics, and IT infrastructures and networks. The Chicago facility wades deep in emerging technologies with its customers—ranging from the city of Chicago and its many departments and sister agencies, county and municipal offices downtown and in surrounding suburbs, and commuter rail transportation agencies across the nation.

In Chicago, LATA primary team members Patrick D. Anderson, P.G., Director of Transportation Programs and Department Manager; Al Ruiz, Network Architect/Senior Project Manager; and Curt E. Barta, Senior Analyst/Project Manager keep tabs on new technologies, beta testing and scoping out specifications before deploying them to customers.

 

Emerging markets—security, security and more security

Anderson said an emerging and evolving market is, of course, security in and of itself, and he attributes that to ongoing threats and awareness of terrorism and the need to protect the general population, especially in public facilities and mass transit.

LATA keeps a fine focus on the transportation market in Chicago, recently receiving the go-ahead to design and implement a Global Positioning Train Location System Upgrade for METRA, the Northeast Illinois commuter rail service. LATA also was awarded a contract with the Cook County Government of Illinois to provide professional services for the Countywide Time and Attendance Project under the Office of Capital Planning and Policy.

“All types of security are on the upswing,” said Anderson. “Biometric verification of identity and video, along with smart analytics, storage and automated alarms are important security tools. Security of the American public for any kind of travel is critical. Mass transit is a great means of transporting people and it also reduces the carbon footprint. But how do you keep it safe? Security markets that utilize fusion technology will continue to expand and include mass transit and public security in general.”

Anderson said grants are available for some security initiatives, but it takes a concerted effort to find the monies. In other cases new initiatives need funding; automated train control is one mandate to railway transportation hubs across the country which hinges more on safety of passengers and crew members.

“Automated time and attendance for employees is another growing area. Industry statistics show that when a company or municipality changes from a paper-based time and attendance system to an automated system with biometric verification, they typically see their annual payroll shrink by approximately eight percent. We provide biometrics for some client automated time and attendance systems and they are pleased with the results,” he said, due to great efficiencies and control over time and attendance.

Anderson said an ongoing goal of LATA is to investigate and research different types of technologies and tools for practical application. “There are many places technology can be applied to help entities better utilize their personnel (and their skills); provide a return on investment in hard numbers and even on soft costs.”

“Security today and tomorrow is about a fusion of different tools or technologies working together,” said Anderson. “Technology can assist in reducing risks, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies.”

 

Biometrics comes on big

One such ‘fusion’ technology LATA recently tested (one of the first installations of the product) at its Chicago offices is the SafeRise System by FST21 Americas, Burlington, Mass. SafeRise uses second-generation biometrics with a fusion of facial, voice, license plate and pattern of behavior recognition to provide automated identity management access while maintaining the highest level of security. No key, card or codes are required.

The solution, which has a growing base of U.S. installations and is a winner of numerous product accolades, including the SIA NPS 2011 Best New Product Award at ISC West, (see: “Biometrics Fusion” story in box at left) integrates biometrics facial and voice recognition, video analytics and intuitive software. Avi Lupo, chief executive officer, said the product is easy to use and enroll users and is ultra secure. In addition, it adds management and accountability functions to the technology, adding value and more than security.

“We work hard to identify and test what we feel is the best of breed technology,” Anderson said. “I worked closely with Avi Lupo and told him I would consider recommending and deploying SafeRise for our clients if we could install it in our offices, have our team try to ‘break’ it or defeat it, and prove if it really works. We always test various systems for our customers. At the end of the day, as a consulting-engineering team, it’s our word on the street and our reputation at stake,” Anderson said. “We are very impressed with the FST21 technical team and the SafeRise performance to date. I believe many of our clients can benefit from this system.”

LATA’s Al Ruiz said it’s a “solid solution.” “The fusion of technology made it exciting to us,” he said. “With SafeRise, we can expand it vertically or horizontally and can interconnect it via the network. We can segment the system on the network by who takes control of the access and who takes control of the video.”

Ruiz said it’s more than security. “It’s personal identification. There are no keys, no cards; but it can generate and run activity reports so you know who is coming in and when, and set alerts in real time.”

“We are creating a new segment in the industry,” added Lupo. “We are humanizing access control and it can be controlled manually on site and remotely. Sometime in the future we envision a kiosk/standalone version of the product. There are currently some 19 installations of SafeRise, including affordable housing, retirement homes, schools, etc. It’s not only security, it’s true convenience to change people’s lives,” Lupo said.

LATA is a systems integrator and engineering consultant firm that works with and researches best of breed solutions and tests them to make sure they fit their customer’s needs. It’s on the cutting edge of what it terms a fusion of technologies, a trend it sees continuing to influence emerging markets and security.

Loading