The Security Week That Was: A Recap - July 16-22, 2005

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


Just when we'd settled back into the game of follow-up stories, watching the finger-pointing and dealing with issues of "Who's going to fund these increases in transportation security?," we were rocked out of our complacency with a second round of attacks to the London subway system, and then early this morning, by reports that London police had shot and killed a suspect who was wearing a heavy winter coat and who may have ditched a backpack at the scene.

Yesterday morning, following the second round of attacks, I was on the phone to conduct an interview with terrorism expert Henry Nocella, CPP, about what kind of attacks these were and what they meant. Nocella also commented about what kind of situations and visual cues police and security officials are looking for on the transit systems to identify potential terrorists, and he mentioned the concept of people wearing heavy coats in the summer as a potential terror identifier. Fast forward 24 hours and that's what much of the world woke up to -- a report that a young man wearing a heavy winter-style coat had been pursued, shot and killed at London's Stockwell station. If you haven't read Nocella's comments, check out his interview here, and look for more interviews with terror and transit experts in the coming days and weeks.

The response to the incidents of today and yesterday has been swift. In summary, some U.S. transit systems, especially in the Northeast, have gone to random bag searches, notably in New York and in Connecticut (see stories). That follows the decision from DHS to maintain the terror alert for our nation's mass transit operations at the "orange" level, the second highest level and one that signifies a high risk of terrorist attacks. The DHS had been considering dropping our transit system security level back down to "yellow" ("elevated risk") before Thursday's attacks, but the incidents in London assure that our transit facilities will stay on alert for an extended amount of time. That means more patrols and higher costs, so if the news is cyclical (which it seems to be), we'll be talking about local-versus-national funding for transit facilities within a day.

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In the shadows of these attacks, however, the business of security continues to hum along. The Americas Fire & Security Expo was held this week in Miami, Fla., as Hurricane Emily headed toward Mexico, sparing Florida this time. The Cygnus Security Group had a number of its staff at the conference, including Security Dealer representatives Peter Harlick (publisher) and Susan Brady (editor) and Paul Caplan from SecurityInfoWatch.com. Check out photos and the live report from Americas Expo 2005 on SIW. Susan presented and moderated a discussion on false alarm reduction that dealt with implementation of enhanced call verification, and the new standards coming for Georgia and Tennessee alarm monitoring and notification. Look for Susan's report later next week on our Dealers section.

Speaking of monitoring, the big news this week was the cash infusion of Westec InterActive, which performs interactive video monitoring for businesses. The CSAA also announced details on its 2006 expo (hint: it's no longer called NASS EX); and in more monitoring news, March Networks announced a new monitoring service that we'd not seen before the in the security industry: network status monitoring for IP video networks.