The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2006

If you spend $200,000 at your facility to install access control and create an automated security system, you wouldn't leave the backdoor propped open, would you?

Unfortunately that was seemingly the case at the Department of Homeland Security, which saw an immigrant supervisor plead guilty this week for accepting bribes in exchange for fraudulent citizenship documents. No matter how much money we spend with the best integrators to create a technology dreamland of security along our borders and at our airports, if we can't solve the core challenges like being able to block bribes and find the corrupt employee, our security is no better than before.

Invited to a Screening
New technologies in airport security

Detection systems were the buzz of the security world this week as GE unveiled its one-stop enrollment and sensor system for Clear's TSA-approved Registered Traveler program. The GE SRT system is a mile-marker for where security is going in that it aspires to create an end-to-end solution for not only verification, but detection. It's my firm belief that these kind of solutions-based product integrations are going to be what security buyers will ask for, and it's those requests that will be driving the businesses of security integrators.

The second mile-marker from the world of airport security is that Phoenix's airport will be testing out new backscatter technology. Backscatter X-ray technology has proven to be a very effective way of seeing what someone could be concealing, but the technology had always been hindered by the fact that screeners could see the more private parts of the body in surprising detail. Now, the TSA says it has technology in its possession that would automatically blur out those private parts enough to overcome privacy objections. This is a serious step, yet I'm not totally convinced that the TSA is ready to go. I have a copy of the kind of image that the blur-ready backscatter machines can create, and, frankly, I'm still not sure I'm fully comfortable posting it to the general public. Time will tell whether our social norms will allow widespread public use of this technology -- with or without the blur effect.

More Standardization for Video Techs and Designers
NICET's new levels and exams set industry on right path

You've undoubtedly heard this kind of complaint before: "I've been successfully designing security systems for 15 years, so why would I need an alphabet soup behind my name to tell someone that I can do what I already do?"

I've never agreed with that line of thinking, so please let me editorialize for a minute. If security technology didn't continually update, there wouldn't be a need for a publications like or Security Dealer. Manufacturers could retire all their R&D staff and just let the widgets roll off the assembly line. But the fact is that in the last 10 years, and especially within the last 5 years, there have been enormous changes to not only the technology that is being installed, but also to the complexity of systems being installed. This statement has been especially true when applied to video surveillance.

Ask a designer and their installer base whether they're ready to do a full-service video system, and they might say, "Yes." But what does that mean? Are they ready to run 16 cameras to a VCR-based recording system? Or do they mean they can draw 150 network cameras to storage on network server and make the archived video available through an integrated security awareness software system? Or do they mean they can take your existing DVR system and enable that to send alerts out to mobile devices?

Answering that question is what NICET (with the support of SIA and the vendor community) has tried to do with the new certifications within the VSS program. They've established benchmark qualification and exams that would recognize what technologies and levels of systems designers and technicians are skilled in.

Yes, it's another alphabet soup to put behind your name that you have to pay for, but I fully believe the program can be rather positive for the industry. Why? Because your certified professionals can command a higher dollar. Why? Because security are more likely to come back to the dealers that they know are properly trained and certified. Why? Because buyers who can be confident of their contractors' skills are more likely to ask them to create more thorough systems.

For an industry that has long been plagued by a lacking of standardization, this move from NICET is applauded for being a step in the right direction.

Finally, we conclude with a look at what your peers have been reading -- our Most Read Stories of the week: