The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Feb. 11-17, 2006

The old stereotype of the physical security industry has been "gates, guns and guards," but I think it's time we change that to "sensors, cameras and cards." Let's run with that thought today and look at recent news in those three segments of our industry:


With the looming October deadline for the beginning of HSPD-12 implementation, the "cards" part of thiscliché is getting a great deal of attention. For our weekly newsletter, Open Security Exchange President Gary Klinefelter looked at the emphasis that physical access control is seeing in HSPD-12 planning. He looks at whether the logical/IT security environment is getting the most focus, and whether physical access control just might be tossed in as an after-thought. Klinefelter's advice: Begin in-depth planning of the physical access control now at your facility, so when it's time to integrate the two, physical access control doesn't get left out in the cold.

For our integrators audience, we picked up a strong story written by the folks at Government Technology News that points to a potential business boom in HSPD-12 implementations for integrators that are trained and ready to do the work.

Gemplus also shipped about a million more cards for the DOD Common Access Card program.


The surveillance cameras business won't be letting up anytime soon, either. Chicago, if you recall, went to a system of public-space surveillance cameras that even had audio capabilities to detect gun shots. That city is hot and heavy for cameras these days, with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proposing a rule that would require that bars and other nightclubs open until 4 a.m. to have cameras at the entrance able to record who is coming and going from these clubs. Civil libertarians aside, this would be a huge windfall for CCTV-installing dealers, though we can only imagine what kind of installation challenges you'd face with trying to capture recognizable facial images in a dark, perhaps smokey, bar. The proposal could eventually be extended to convenience stores and other business open longer than 12 hours per day.

...and the Sensors

While the sensors market for residential and light commercial intrusion continues to make some neat product upgrades, the flashy news in the sensors market is happening in areas of chemical, biological, nuclear and explosives detection systems.

The impetus for this is that so many machines designed a few years back were plagued by false alarms and non-detection issues. In Norway, a test of explosive detection equipment at an airport failed to catch about eight kilograms of explosives. At the U.S. Capitol a little over a week ago, a sensor mistakenly detected an air-based hazard and cleared the capital.

We really have to think about this part of the industry as much like the early motion detection equipment and infrared sensors from the early days of home security. I'm sure our dealers can especially recall the service hours spent on faulty equipment. Does that mean that we shouldn't use the emerging technologies in the detection systems area? Of course not...but we still have to push the technology forward as many top manufacturers are doing now.

Fortunately, there is a lot of development occurring in this market segment. Two things that caught our eye recently were 1) RAE Systems NeutronRAE II -- a handheld detector that can be used by first responders responding to possible instances of nuclear or gamma radiation, 2) clever updates to Smiths Detection's Sentinel II walk-through explosives detection portal, and 3) the announcement that Raytheon is getting into the market for detection of nuclear materials at ports of entry.

Also in the news...

What would you think if U.S. ports were being managed by a company from a country known as a breeding ground for terrorists? That's the top news in port and transportation security this week, when it was learned that U.A.E.-based Dubai Ports World was looking at an almost $7 billion buy of management operations for U.S. ports. According to early acquisition reports, that would affect ports in a number of prominent U.S. cities, including New York, New Jersey, Miami and Baltimore.

While the state-owned company would be still held to U.S. port security standards, many in the world of homeland security and in Congress are pondering the "what if?" questions. At the top of that questions list: What if an anti-American terrorist was able to infiltrate the Dubai Ports World corporate structure and facilitate the arrival of explosives or nuclear materials? It's a big "what if?", indeed.

Finally, a look at the top stories of the week on