The Security Week That Was: A Recap - June 25-July 1, 2005

The redesign of the Freedom Tower, being built where World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, was announced this Wednesday in New York, and the key elements of the redesign were improved security. The redesign sets it further back from the street, plus includes fire control systems that are far above code, separate stairwells for firefighters, three-foot concrete walls around the main stairwells (which are built extra wide), and even built-in detection systems for chemical and biological agents. In summary, this building will undoubtedly serve as the premier model for terrorism proofing of high-rise office facilities and condo towers. Details being released largely pertain to the security created by the physical engineering, but rest assured that the electronic security elements will undoubtedly be a champion's design. This all comes immediately after the NIST released recommendations on how to improve high-rise buildings in the wake of Sept. 11. To see the details on the tower, no matter how often argued over by architects and politicians, is to see an inspiring symbol of the free world, which tells terrorist that hatred and attacks do not weaken or even shake the foundation of freedom and democracy.

For those of you who design surveillance systems, you'll surely be interested in how Chicago's wide-area surveillance system of its streets integrates video and audio. The city has set up a variety of gunshot sensors that record noise from the streets and then compare sounds to a library of gunshot audio files. If the system determines that an audio event was likely the noise from a gunshot, then a camera is called up and pointed on the suspected area.

Another integrated system made the news this week when Siemens landed the contract to create a high-tech system at the Illinois International Port District. Cameras will be used along the perimeter of the port facilities, tied in with an intrusion detection sensor network to alert the cameras, and plugged in with a card-based access control system, video motion detection and more. All the data will be fed to two security control centers, since the project is actually for two "sister" port facilities located just a few miles from each othe. The system allows security personnel to look at the port from an overall "bird's-eye" perspective of security and access activity. These kind of projects are what our industry has been working up to over the years – indeed, SIW columnist Charlie Pierce previewed these kind of projects a few months ago in a column when he described that what was really happening in security was not so much as "convergence" as it was "culmination" – the cumulative intelligence of intertwined security and electronic systems.

Speaking of interconnectedness... A couple weeks ago, I was able to sit down with GE Security's VP of Global Sales and Marketing Jim Clark, along with my associates Steve Lasky (ST&D) and Susan Brady (Security Dealer). Our conversation with Jim Clark, in which he talks about working with the dealer community, the company's promise to provide IT resources and training to keep its partners at the top of convergence, and what the world of security looks like going ahead, is live on the site right now. Whether or not you work with GE Security, the interview is a great snapshot into the world of security in general.

Other news this week that should be on your radar screen:

The Smart Card Alliance has formed a healthcare council to look at how card usage can be used in hospital settings for protection of patient data privacy and access control ... Macau's growing casino destinations are considering biometric facial recognition to keep out the cheats, but a unified database is a consistent challenge ... The National Retail Federation awarded ATF's Travis Moran for helping break a major organized jewelry theft ring ... A false alarm verification policy by the security detail at Atlanta's Fulton County courthouse may have delayed the response to March's murder of a judge and others ... The NBFAA has named George Gunning as its president to serve for a year beginning today ... Our webinar on school security is now archived so you can access it at anytime ... The NRF Loss Prevention show was held this week, and we're getting word in about a variety of new products for retail LP, so check our Retail Security market page for more details.

Finally, SecurityInfoWatch.com was named as one of three "Best New Web Publications" by the American Society of Business Publication Editors. We were happy to receive the award, but we remembered all along that we wouldn't be here were it not for loyal readers like you.

We conclude with our usual look at the most read stories of the week, including one "ridiculously popular" story about an Audi key at a TSA screening checkpoint:

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