The security week that was: 05/02/08

Municipal video surveillance seems to be the topic of the day. From privacy groups watching to make sure these device don't infringe upon personal rights to radio technology providers ramping up solutions to wirelessly connect cameras, to integrators fighting for a piece of the municipal surveillance pie, this market is boiling hot.

But it's not a new thing for cities to use cameras. In Washington, D.C., the school system had cameras. The Housing Authority also had cameras. Even the Transportation Department had cameras. At other towns, you wouldn't be surprised to find cameras and a DVR out at the water treatment plant plus a few at City Hall, and you'd probably be surprise if you didn't find cameras at the city police station. And, as journalists tracking the market, it's almost a weekly occurrence that we hear of some small town that has added 1 or 2 cameras to watch out for illegal dumping.

But the challenge for many cities is that connecting and monitoring cameras has always been a difficult proposition, especially if one system might be an old VCR platform, another a current DVR system, and still another tied together in the style of IP video. Well, at least one city, Washington, D.C., has taken up on itself to interlink all of the city's cameras via a control center at the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. It's ambitious, too. They're going to connect school cameras into an agency control center along with other city agencies' cameras. They'll be some 4,500 hooked together in the first phase, and according to the agency's director, real-time monitoring and video analysis is part of the plan. Ambitious, indeed!

And while Washington, D.C., is working to pull off one of the biggest camera integration projects we've ever heard of, other cities are moving right along with their own video surveillance systems, even if they're not the behemoth projects of D.C.

Case in point, Buffalo, N.Y., has taken a new anti-crime camera system live. The system pipes video back to the Police headquarters in downtown, where monitoring can occur. The Buffalo system will encompass 100 cameras by the end of this year (43 cameras are already live), and the future-proof design of the system means that it may eventually include gunshot detection and the ability to push camera video directly into the police cruisers.

Speaking of gunshot detection, Newark has added a $1.2 million Shotspotter system to help quickly pinpoint gunfire in the city. Shotspotter won the contract over systems from Safety Dynamics and Planning Systems. And closely related to municipal surveillance is the market of cities upgrading their mass transit security. This week, Cleveland's RTA announced plans for cameras to be installed on all of its vehicles, including buses and the trains.

Homeland security news
DoD security clearances, Bioterror detection

In the realm of homeland security this week, the Pentagon is recognizing that a little counseling shouldn't mean your chance for a security clearance is ruined forever. The DoD issued policy this week that military/defense members who had counseling related to the combat environment or which had marital or family counseling would no longer be excluded from obtaining a security clearance. The department cited high numbers of troops coming back from wars in Iraq in Afghanistan with war-related anxieties and post-traumatic stress syndrome; previously those troops would avoid counseling to avoid the stigma that it would place on their military record.

On an entirely different side of homeland security, ICx Technologies announced this week that it had won a contract grant to finish research on a rapid sensor system that could identify bioterrorism threats within 15 minutes. The company already offers such products as a liquid explosives detector and a card reader that integrates with detection for explosives residue.

In other news…
Tech Data distributes more IP video, criminals hack gas pumps

Also in the news this week, Tech Data Corporation announced that it was further expanding its distribution of IP video solutions. The company has primarily been a distributor of IT products for the VAR community, but as security technology has become networkable, the company has expanded into what were traditionally physical security products.

Honeywell has agreed to acquire Metrologic Instruments, a manufacturer of bar code readers and related technologies. The bar code company will fit into Honeywell Security. If I had to speculate on why this was a fit for Honeywell Security, I'd guess it's the fact that EAS deactivation can be tied into handheld bar code scanners, or that the company has offered a software system that converts data on military IDs and most state driver's licenses. Bar codes aren't just for retail checkouts and warehouse inventories; they've become a vital part of security-related identification and authentication. The purchase price was a cool $720 million.

Security Dealer & Integrator Associate Editor Greg McConnell has filed a report from the NBFAA Day on Capitol Hill; some of his photos from the event are on our blogs.

And if the gas price increases have put you in a pinch, you know that criminals are working to get around them. In Orlando, police reported that a team of criminals were using a computer device to hack gas pumps, allowing them to bypass the credit card reader/pre-pay requirement.

Finally, we close with a look at the most read articles of the week: