The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Aug. 12-18, 2006

SIW Editor Geoff Kohl gives a weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

Just a day after Brady Corporation announced that it was acquiring another identification products company (CIPI, which makes badge accessories like retractable reels and which is also a top distributor of identification products), we received a market report from USBX, a financial firm that has worked on some of the top industry mergers and acquisitions. USBX's report sheds some interesting light on the health of the industry.

Most notably the Q2 2006 industry report puts M&A activity at almost an all-time high. They also indicated that RFID technology was ready to become more than just tags, and would become more solutions based. The USBX report places value on the role of government/IT integration, and confirmed what many of us already knew -- that convergence projects are really starting to happen. Our summary of their report is published here, and we've also included a link in that story to the full report that USBX issued. It's an interesting read, whether you're an integrator or a manufacturer, or a dealer or end user wondering what may affect you in the coming year.

Bombs Away

Most of the time security is focused on making sure the right people have access to your facility (and the bad guys don't!). But with the news from a week ago that British authorities had detained a number of men who allegedly intended to explode bombs aboard U.S.-bound airliners, our industry has become heavily focused on the dangers of explosive devices. While we're fortunately not to the level of Iraq's streets, where IEDs detonate on a daily basis, the news may be hitting home closer than you think. Here's why...

On Friday of last week, we reported how four pipe bombs were discovered in and around the town of Salem, Ore., with one being at a hospital, another at a corporate facility, and still two others at random public locations. Our brief report, based on news accounts, is a worthwhile read to understand how to prepare for such a device being found at your own facility.

Then, yesterday afternoon, we published a report directly from the TSA regarding explosive residues found in a passenger's water bottle at a passenger airport in Huntington, W.V. While a number of specialty companies have unveiled detection systems that can identify whether liquids are safe or a threat, these systems aren't standard technology yet. Though these technologies may be "ready" from the vendors' perspective, issues of appropriate detection and false alerts are still being studied by the TSA.

Our industry has always been ready to unveil the latest technology, but the applicability of these systems can't always move as fast. We have to remember that there will always be push-back on new technologies. Case in point, the TSA this week has had to defend its use of X-rays on shoes to identify threats, especially gel or liquid explosives,

False alarms can, indeed, be a challenge, whether you're working with an electronic system or a living creature. That was the case at the Port of Seattle this week when a K-9 team misidentified the mixture of chemicals coming from a container of oily rags as a threat. The impact upon the port, which included having to establish a tight perimeter around the area of concern, is a good example of why technologies can't be rushed to market when through-put issues can arise.

Getting Involved in Politics

This is the time to make legislative waves, says the NBFAA. The organization is calling for security and alarm companies to contact their representatives regarding such issues as VoIP, reciprocity of license and more. The organization -- the primary group working to protect the interests of alarm dealing companies -- released a statement on how members could best work with legislators, and since we've published it on, it has proved to be a very popular article. The lesson here is that we need to think and act as an industry, and not just as competitive businesses. Take the NBFAA's advice and get moving; representatives rely on their constituents for input, and it's your duty to let them know what you need from them.

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