The Security Week That Was: A Recap - May 27-June 2, 2006

In last week's recap, the top focus was on Northrop Grumman's bid for the Secure Border Initiative program, a DHS-funded program that would create an elaborate system of surveillance for our nation's borders.

In the week that followed, we saw another stack of bids come in, with teams led by such companies as Ericsson, Boeing and Raytheon. As we said last week, the Northrop Grumman bid reflects that the issues of securing borders doesn't rest solely on the number of cameras, motion sensors, microwave receivers or the guard stations. Rather, the concern has been how to make sure the data coming out of a technological system is usable, deliverable, and applicable. Thus, at the core of the technology teams on these bids, we're seeing a number of heavy network players (like Oracle, IBM, even Ericsson itself).

The companies putting their names into the hat are the wolves of the security industry - ones not afraid to nip at the heels of cutting-edge integration projects. I think I speak for the entire security industry (and the American public for that matter) when I say that we are very interested to see definitive details on what these government contractors are proposing. The techniques and approaches are likely to shape how all companies view perimeter security and detection systems.

(See bid announcements: Raytheon, Boeing, Ericsson, Northrop Grumman).

Texas-Sized Border Security

While we're on the subject of border security, turn your eyes to Texas, where they just can't seem to do a small surveillance project. Texas Governor Rick Perry announced on Thursday that they were allocating $5 million to put in a border security video surveillance system.

While the entire Texas border with Mexico spans over 1,200 miles, Perry said they're not going that big. The project will instead focus on some of what they're calling the most isolated and dangerous stretches of that border. The project is unique because it aims to do a couple things that merit interest from the physical security industry.

First, the state intends to set up the system such that all authorities (local, state and federal) can access the images from the system. Secondly, when you talk about a project this large, you obviously hit funding dead-ends. The first challenge is in terms of response, which they are presumably fixing by allowing data to get out to all authorities, thus broadening the pool of responders. But behind that problem is an issue of monitoring. Depending on how many cameras actually are placed on the border, you could be talking about needing a large-scale monitoring operations center that could rival some of the biggest central stations over in Irving, Texas (where Brink's and Protection One have stations). Therefore, the solution proposed was to put the video on the web in real-time, so that Joe Citizen can access the video and call a 1-800 number to report a potential crime.

Swinging the Axe at DHS

Texas is also among the many states hit by significant cuts in anti-terror funding from the Department of Homeland Security. Texas was slapped with a 30 percent cut in funding, which isn't bad considering that Rhode Island saw its homeland security budget cut in half. But no one is more outraged than New Yorkers, who saw a hefty cut of their city's terror-fighting dollars, despite being the primary focus of the 9/11 attacks (D.C. also saw anti-terror spending cuts). Who else got hammered? Sacramento as well as the Bay Area saw cuts, but it wasn't just limited to the big port/border areas. Central Ohio reportedly took a hit as well.

To look at why the funding is disappearing, you have to look at capital expenditure projects. Based on news reports that we see across our wires, much of the homeland security monies are being spent on such items as first-responder gear like networked communications vehicles for responding to major incidents, and equipment for LEOs and fire-fighters that can be multi-tasked for normal response and terror response. Much of this gear has a long-term shelf-life, especially since the funding typically doesn't go for daily usage equipment that towns are expected to pay for by themselves (like standard patrol cars). Thus, it makes sense that the DHS is pulling monies back from areas that have been heavily funded and refocusing those funds on towns and regions that have seen lesser funding levels. It's also the case that, for many cities, the terror dollars received thus far haven't been fully spent, so there is still funding sitting "in the bank" so to speak.

And in news beyond homeland security...

New dealer programs in the last week popped up on the radar from Tri-Ed and from Alarm Lock. ... Brink's unveiled its new home security website, designed to help attract even more customers. ... Protection One opened the expansion to its Irving, Texas monitoring facility. ... The ISO is developing standards for crisis management. ... Integrator ATC International reports receiving a veritable stack of integration projects involving access control, CCTV and automation for condos and office buildings in Florida.

Lest we forget, the following list reflects what your peers have been reading on -- our top read stories of the week: