As we get ready to turn the page on 2013, we reflect on the news events of the year that will likely help shape the security industry moving forward into 2014 and beyond. Perhaps the event of greatest magnitude occurred in April when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more 260 others. There were also a number of other events and business maneuvers that made headlines this year. Here are our editor’s picks for the top news stories of the year:
Boston Marathon bombing
As previously mentioned, no other single event had a bigger impact on the security industry as the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April. Not only was it the first successful domestic terror attack since 9/11, but it shined a spotlight on the importance of video surveillance and how it can be used to quickly and efficiently gather evidence.
In the aftermath of the bombing, there has been an increased emphasis on video sharing initiatives between the public and private sector, a renewed interest in the use of video analytics and a desire for solutions that can effectively leverage big data. Aside from surveillance, SIW also took a look at how cities can use existing technologies to mitigate against the threat of improvised explosive devices and the inherent challenges associated with securing open air venues.
NSA snooping controversy
Former government contractor Edward Snowden opened the proverbial lid on Pandora’s Box earlier this year when he divulged confidential documents to several media outlets detailing the surveillance efforts of the National Security Agency against foreign governments and U.S. citizens alike. The subsequent stories published have resulted in a firestorm of criticism against the NSA and have revealed the depth and intricacies of their intelligence gathering efforts. Just this month, federal judges issued rulings in stark contrast to one another on the legality of the agency’s bulk collection of telephone records on millions of Americans. Although President Obama has promised improved oversight of government surveillance, legal experts believe that the matter will ultimately be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
DirecTV enters security business
Jumping on the bandwagon with their competitors in the cable television industry, DirecTV entered the security market this year with its acquisition of LifeShield Home Security in early June. Brad Bentley, senior vice president of revenue strategy and planning for DirecTV, told SIW the home security market was attractive to the company for several reasons.
“From a home security perspective, it’s a high margin, low-churn and a really low-penetrated business,” Bentley said. “We also looked at it as a natural extension of the DirecTV product offering. We do have a national footprint of technicians, consultants, as well as dealers, so we’re in homes everyday and looking to provide additional value. That, coupled with our expertise in delivering an exceptional video experience, we felt we had an opportunity to bring home security in that product offering.”
As with the rise of security offerings from Comcast and AT&T in recent years, reaction to the news from much of the industry was mixed, with many taking a “wait-and-see” attitude.
Nuke plant vulnerabilities exposed
A report released in August by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs found that the nation’s nuclear plants are sorely lacking when it comes to protecting against terrorist threats. The study, entitled "Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack: Re-assessing the Current 'Design Basis Threat' Approach," found not one of the 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. is protected against a "maximum credible terrorist attack," such as 9/11. In fact, the report said that nuclear facilities are not even required to protect themselves against airplane attacks, assaults by large teams of terrorists or even high-power sniper rifles.