The Security Week That Was: May 11, 2007

People Are the Critical Infrastructure

Sometimes we get caught up in technology-centric security.

We talk about high-tech systems that integrate access and video, and which allow for integrated alarm event management. We talk megapixels and gigahertz and VPNs and thumbdrives and PKIs and DVRs. We talk about critical infrastructure and think about powerplants and major utilities systems, ports and the things that make our world move. But I'll posit that your people are the critical infrastructure. I was reminded of that core notion when talking with a friend of mine who is in Kandahar. Now Kandahar, Afghanistan, isn't the friendliest place in the world. In fact, most would probably place it in the top 10 of most unfriendly places to be. It's the kind of place where attackers directly target aid workers and journalists in addition to soliders and local government officials. It's where just one day ago a vehicle driver for the U.N.'s refugee agency was killed on his way to work by men on a motorbike.

When we occassionaly catch up over messaging or email, we sometimes talk security, though we often try to move the subject to something that doesn't weigh so heavily – like former adventures in the Appalachian Mountains or surfing the Atlantic breaks. He is not a twitchy type of person, not the kind of person who is continually nervous about security. Having been in that part of the world for about three years, it's a part of life. Bulletproof glass and automatic weapons mix with the fact that life must go on, that his wife is expecting and that family and friends are halfway around the planet.

I'm not sure there's a point to saying all of this, other than when you get caught up in thinking about how to budget for another surveillance camera or a new card access project, sometimes it's good to step back and think that, somewhere around the world, a heavily armored, South African-made Nyala anti-mine vehicle and a gun slung on the shoulder is what security means when protecting your people, your critical infrastructure.

Nyala armored transport vehicle, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

The "sports car" of secured travel in Afghanistan: A South African-made Nyala armored patrol vehicle in the Kandahar province

Back in the world of comfort and technology
DHS announces major funding for ports, transit and crit-infrastructure

The big news of the last couple days was that the Department of Homeland Security announced some $445 million in grants. Most of that funding, approximately $357 million, has been tagged to ports and transit systems. Another $48.5 million was earmarked for critical infrastructure. Not surprisingly, the announcement of the funding rallied the standard politicians' cries that funding was being cut at some places and increased at others. Ports in some regions of the country had their grant money slashed while transit and port infrastructure in places like New York saw a boost. As the grumbling began in Washington among representatives and senators, it was a reminder that you can't please everyone in the way that you spend security dollars. For our industry, it meant that transit security funding is appearing at the perfect time as transit-specific products like mobile DVRs and bus-type cameras are being uveiled to the market.

Also happening this week were a number of business deals that affect security technology offerings. Infrastruct partnered with 3VR to deploy the company's searchable surveillance solutions at its command center in Houston and will reportedly advise clients on that technology. Up-and-coming security management software provider videoNEXT landed a second series of funding to the tune of $5.4 million to aid its sales, marketing and product development. Pixim expanded to Hong Kong, opening a regional headquarters there. Fast-growing biometrics and identity firm L-1 bought technology developer Advanced Concepts, furthering what Lapenta said years ago in an interview with SIW when he indicated that he intended to lead the consolidation in the biometrics/identity market.

In the SIW Forums
The link between security officers and law enforcement

A very non-scientific (yet still statistically interesting) poll conducted in the SIW forums asked about the link between security guards and law enforcement. The responses are still growing, but as of now, some 28% have current or former affiliation with law enforcement and 40% are using private security details as a way to get into law enforcement careers. We're also closely interested in a ongoing thread about "integrity shops" in retail loss prevention. In sum, these are tests of an employee's honesty that are used sometimes to gauge the overall internal theft problem of a retailer. What's good about this discussion: It's a wide-open debate about how and when to use an "integrity shop" and how to do them the right way (and the wrong way).

Our top stories of the week include: