Collaboration is the key to innovative security projects

As technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated, its implementation into complex security projects requires a commitment from all stakeholders.  This increased complexity of integration puts pressure on both vendors and systems integrators to supply highly collaborative strategies that will satisfy the expanding needs of their end-user clients.

That pressure to perform was characteristic of the four top submissions in the 8th Annual Security Innovation Awards sponsored by Security Technology Executive magazine and the Security Industry Association (SIA). Three of the finalists were honored November 20th at the SIA Gala Dinner in conjunction with ISC East, where long time security professional Ray Dean was also honored as this year’s recipient of the George R. Lippert Memorial Award.

Don Erickson, president of SIA states: “The Security Industry Association was pleased to support the STE Security Innovation Awards at SIA Honors Night. It was truly remarkable how the mix of awards recipients represented the traditional and developing interests of SIA. The Statue of Liberty project represented a best case example of a government agency working with a security integrator to secure a global icon in the sort of partnership that SIA regularly seeks between public agencies and private companies. Taino Towers demonstrated success in the evolution of residential security measures—a legacy concern of SIA. And the project at Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospitals addressed concerns specific to requirements in vertical markets, a burgeoning interest at SIA. All of these innovative security projects truly demonstrated best-in-class security solutions. SIA congratulates the winners.”

The Gold Medal Winner for 2013 as voted by our panel of judges goes to Francisco Lantigua, the Director of Security Operations for Taino Towers and his security team. The Taino Towers spans an entire city block in New York’s East Harlem section, featuring a four-story central building surrounded by four 35-story glass and concrete towers. Built in the 1972, Taino Towers was billed as a breakthrough in safe, affordable low-income housing. But security challenges have dogged the area for decades.

Teaming with John Aksoy and his systems integration team from Plugout, Lantiqua and his staff implemented a state-of-the-art IP video surveillance, VMS and facial recognition access control solution that has cut crime more than 90 percent.

“Convincing the customer that we could deliver a solution that would meet all their expectations and more was a challenge,” says Aksoy, president and CEO of Plugout, who adds that the client had been burnt three times previous by integrators and vendors promising solutions that didn’t deliver. “Being a small business sometimes makes it hard to convince the end users. We did a full site survey with Axis rep Adam Colombo during a full day at the site and then delivered the client a blueprint of the entire city block with 3D aerial views, as well as live web camera placements on four of the 40-floor buildings. The customer was able to see the camera placements and a live view snapshot of the specific cameras. This was exactly what they were looking for.”

Plugout partnered with video solutions providers Axis Communications for the IP cameras, Genetec on the VMS, Cisco for the mesh video network and FST21 for the biometrics. 

The SIA judges were also very impressed with the challenging environment and level of cooperation involved in the Taino Tower project.

“The success of this project in a highly challenging environment is highly commended, as is the ongoing involvement of the systems integrator. Two technology elements in particular caught my attention. Actually getting a large scale video project to work over a mesh wireless system offered by IT vendor Cisco is very encouraging. Further, the successful deployment and results achieved with the SAFERISE motion identification software stands out. Also significant is the involvement of local law enforcement in the ultimate solution,” says one judge.

Another judge adds, “Lots of collaboration and a myriad of different technologies make this an ambitious stab at using technology to solve the high crime problem that plagues low-income housing developments. The use of video for evidence purposes and alarm verification, coupled with visitor management solutions for access control makes this project one that should be emulated in similar applications across the country.”

The Silver Innovation Awards winner comes from Houston’s Memorial Hermann network of healthcare facilities. This was a daunting project that required a level of complexity seldom seen in an access control upgrade and retrofit.  Covering over 20 million square feet, with 1,762 doors, 1,600 cameras, 30,000 cardholders and five million visitors annually, this project is among the largest on the Software House C•Cure 9000 platform.

Tech Systems, a systems integrator based in Duluth, Ga., worked with security director Joseph Bellino to migrate disparate access control platforms to a central command center, as well as incorporate an infant-protection solution and video surveillance.

“Because this conversion was a long-term plan it required a long-term partnership. It is never good to create an adversarial relationship with vendors. They need to perform, they need to be motivated and they need to value Memorial Hermann as a customer. It’s not all about price, it’s about value. Tech Systems offered me the most cost-effective and results-oriented proposal. Leveraging their expertise, experience and ongoing professional services we could save money over time and have a security program that is fluid and effective today, tomorrow and a year from now,” remarks Bellino.

Says one of the awards judges: “The security team at Memorial Hermann had to deal with one of the most common problems faced by organizations across all vertical markets in the industry: upgrading outdated technology and getting buy-in from stakeholders throughout the organization on a limited budget. Not only were they able to migrate all of their sites to the newest access control software platform, they were also able to rebadge all of their staff members while at the same time implementing a new infant protection system. This was truly a Herculean effort on the part of both the end user and systems integrator.”

This year’s bronze Innovation Awards winner certainly features the most famous end-user customer – Lady Liberty.  Standing more than 300 feet tall from ground to torch, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes America and its values of democracy, freedom and promise.

The task of protecting a majestic, international symbol falls to a number of agencies, including the U.S. Park Police, National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of the Interior. The Statue’s interior closed to the public for renovations in 2011 and again in 2012 as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. As part of the refurbishment, Total Recall, a New-York based technology provider specializing in turnkey integrated video solutions, provided a state-of-the-art surveillance system with nine other security technology vendor partners. The new solution went online shortly before the Statue symbolically reopened on the Fourth of July in 2013 – eight months after Sandy.

New York-based systems integrator Total Recall designed, specified and supervised the last major security system overhaul for the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island in 1999, with the latest upgrade made in 2004. The 2013 surveillance deployment marks the first time an all-digital surveillance system has been installed at the monument.

Jordan Heilweil admits that the project was not without challenges. But he is extremely proud of how his team from Total Recall met them all.

“Making a donation of a security system is not without its challenges! Going through the approval process of making this donation was a complicated task.  Our team of attorneys had many meetings with the National Park Service attorneys.  Most people don't realize when you are talking about a project involving the Statue of Liberty the required approvals come from the top levels within the federal government,” says Heilweil 

 We had a very unique opportunity at the Statue.  Usually even if we are designing a solution there are restrictions.  In this case there weren't.  We had full control of what solution to build and what technology to incorporate,” Heilweil adds. “Since we had a full and complete understanding of the challenges faced by the Park Police we knew the concept of the solution.  The partners we chose to be on the STS ‘Dream Team’ were all companies we had previously worked with on various projects.  We knew that by incorporating the products and technology from team STS we would make our concept a reality.” 

The judges found this project intriguing because of its scope and wide array of security problems that needed solving.  One judge comments: “This project showed a truly impressive mix of disparate yet interrelated technologies. The project employed a rich mix of video capture, communications, and display and storage elements. I was impressed by the incorporation of new technology capabilities, including video synopsis, mobile apps and advanced communication, into a mix of traditional technologies to provide a complete security solution. Documented success stories, the achievement of the project’s goal – to ‘keep the visitor experience enjoyable while at the same time being able to respond optimally to incidents or emergencies,’ and the ultimate satisfaction of the end user are the proof of the pudding.”

Rounding out the winning submissions is the fourth-place honorable mention from Raytheon. This is an extremely unique application that combines cybersecurity with a unified communications strategy enabling combat troops in the field to better communicate, as well as establishing a private internet platform for several federal agencies.

A group of United States soldiers could approach a possible enemy location, for example, and send text messages to each other with the latest updates about observed movement patterns of suspicious parties. But because of security-clearance protocols, higher-level officers observing this remotely who have had mission-relevant information about those parties would need to get such communications “relayed” through an intermediary. This has made for cumbersome and often time-consuming exchanges at a time when immediacy delivers the best results.

So the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Program Manager, Danielle Queen McGahee and her Multi-Domain Dissemination System (MDDS) team, developed a more streamlined and efficient method to deploy intelligence and operational analytics in a highly secure platform.

The MDDS serves as a HTTP for the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Justice (not to mention members of Congress).  Thanks to advancements in cross domain technologies , MDDS serves as the central point for lawmakers, warfighters, commanders, intelligence officers and other agency users to operate within their own online universe while not compromising any sensitive information or data.

“This project is impressive in its scope and in the way it was able to help manage logical access to sensitive documents and achieve a balance of IT security and logical access control for the military – to whom this type of solution is most relevant,” says one judge. “While this project is not in the wheelhouse of ‘traditional’ security, I think it is incredibly innovative from an IT security standpoint.

As far as collaboration, it took an impressive amount of end-user/vendor collaboration, and considering that Raytheon is technically an integrator as well, it ‘completes the circle’ of collaboration we were looking for.”

These four winners typify the diversity of technologies and applications that truly define partnerships and collaboration.

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