The security week that was: 12/26/08

Reality TV does homeland security

ABC is putting homeland security on TV. Based on a show from Australia called “Border Security”, ABC’s “Homeland Security USA” has been shooting and editing a program with the Department of Homeland Security that puts cameras in the places where everyday homeland security workers punch the clock: airports, ports, borders, and more. The Department has final rights of editing on the program – presumably to make sure sensitive information doesn’t make it on film. This reality TV program starts Tuesday, January 6th.

The show promises to be fairly interesting even if we can suspect that it is probably both tamed down (don’t expect to find cameras on during an interrogation of a suspected terrorist) and also dramatized (a real day doing port inspections might mean hours scanning bills of lading, but that simply doesn’t make great TV -- you need conflict!). The shame of this new program is its timeslot. “Homeland Security USA” is on Tuesdays, 8/7 central, and that would be a perfect timeslot were it not for the fact that the megahit program American Idol returns for its next season on January 13th. After “American Idol” returns, the only ones left to watch “Homeland Security USA” might be cops, ex-cops, security officers, a few night-vision technology researchers and editors of a security website. Let’s hope the program has enough entertainment value to survive the onslaught of idolatry, and that it will remains available for the security conscious people of the U.S. who are looking for a federal version of “COPS.”

Testing metal detectors
NIST researchers create carbon version of a man to test metal detectors

Ever wonder how you’d test a new metal detector to ensure it’s working properly? You’d use a phantom, of course. The Phantom is a carbon version of an average male human which can conduct electromagnetic currents just like the human body. The Phantom creates a form factor to which you can attach metal objects for testing (such as sunglasses or even a knife). Why not just use real people to test these devices? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) argues that humans’ electromagnetic signatures vary too much and we also walk at different paces through such machines -- which means standardizing such testing with real humans is impossible -- hence the creation of the “Phantom.”

Papal security
The Christmas Eve take-down

Sometimes security is about infrared beams and video surveillance and all manner of high-tech things like command centers. Sometimes it’s just about a bodyguard in the right place. The video accompanying this article from a NC news station includes a video that shows the Pope’s bodyguards taking down someone who rushes the Pope during the exit to the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. There’s no word on whether it was an attack or simply a fan. Snackfeed has a direct link to a video from CNN which includes the papal address from that mass -- it's an inspiring a Christmas message for 2008.

More top news:
Panasonic-SANYO merger, Securitas acquisitions, NASRO scholarship

SANYO Electric Co. Ltd. released more details on the merger with Panasonic. While analysts say the merger is linked to the electric battery market, both firms are also major players in the world of video surveillance solutions. ... Securitas has been busy making acquisitions. The firm has recently purchased guard services firms in Mexico and the Czech Republic. ... Nominations are open for a NASRO scholarship program in conjunction with Wren Solutions. ... SIW Assistant Editor Joel Griffin writes in with commentary from system integration experts on how to weather the economic recession.

Philadelphia is among the latest cities to mandate carbon monoxide detection. ... Fire-Lite has announced early 2009 fire alarm systems training classes (they’re free). ... Intransa landed a distributor in Malaysia. ... Winnipeg is putting audio and video surveillance on all 500-plus buses in its public transit fleet. ... The Microsoft Windows Biometric Framework – a framework for defining how biometric matching works inside of the Windows 7 operating system – earned a vote of confidence, with sensor company Validity pledging to support the framework.

Finally, we take a look at our most read stories of the week: