The security week that was: 10/29/10 (guns on campus)

The guns on campus issue

If you saw a student carrying a gun in his hand across the campus of your local university, what would you think? I, for one, would think I'm about to witness a campus shooting. I should hope that most people would come to the same conclusion and would call for police response. But put that gun inside a concealed carry holster hidden inside a coat or in a waistband, and all of sudden it becomes a constitutional issue.

That's the situation in Colorado. A group called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has sued to overturn the University of Colorado's ban on concealed carry of weapons. Already, Colorado State University has yielded and is allowing concealed carry on campus. CSU is not alone; a number of public universities in Utah also allow concealed carry. The national student group states that it has 43,000 members (membership is not limited to students), and already chapter groups have appeared on campuses around the nation, including Virginia Tech.

Help an industrial site revamp its security
$90,000 worth of loss in 12 months, and almost nothing spent on security

A manager of an industrial site writes into the SIW forums this week to discuss a theft problem at his storage facility. Here's the situation: He has lost approximately $90,000 worth of goods. Criminals are using vehicles to load up the goods. There is a camera system in place, but it is not producing satisfactory results. A 6-foot chain link fence topped with razor-wire circumnavigates the area, but thieves are cutting through the fence. The location manager is finally ready to make some changes. View the discussion in our forums, and register as a member to add comments.

Ohio's big video integration project
Big dreams in Ohio, but are they ready for the technological nightmare?

In September, Ohio's legislature decided to spend $235,000 to get the wheels rolling on a massive, statewide video surveillance integration project that would tie in public/government camera systems with private video surveillance systems owned by businesses. While clearly $235,000 is just a drop in a bucket when you talk about a statewide integration project, this is a landmark project.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the system will tie in road and street cameras, cameras in government buildings and even cameras from airports. Also integrated will camera systems from "malls, office buildings and other major centers." Keep in mind that there is no requirement that private surveillance systems be tied into the statewide project. That decision is at the discretion of the owner of private companies operating their own surveillance networks.

Besides the obvious civil liberties critique that this smacks of an Orwellian future, from a technology side I have to question the state's ability to implement this project. First, it's highly doubtful that they're all on the same video platform. Second, the proprietary nature of our surveillance industry means that if they're not on the same platform, they can forget about easily integrating those systems. Third, even if they spend the big bucks to work up SDKs, APIs and the rest of the code (not to mention the hardware that would be needed) to get video from hundreds of sites working across a statewide platform, they are left with an Achilles heel of technology integration. That Achilles heel exists because if one system decides to make a platform upgrade, it's possible that the special coding might fail and the system would be lost from the network.

I'll recount a quick story to illustrate this. There were two police districts of a certain big U.S. city. Both had formidable camera systems and were running on the same platform, which meant each district could access the other district's video. Then one district had a budget windfall and was able to upgrade to the newest version of the video management system. They lost the ability to cross-access the video systems, because the other district didn't have the budget then to pay for an upgrade or to hire a developer to do the coding work that would be needed to re-link the new VMS with the old VMS in the other district.

That said, if Ohio has the willpower to make this happen, it will probably be one of the most significant video integration projects our industry has seen. Watch this project closely! We will.

In other news
Minnesota AG sues alarm co; Vumii acquired; Unisys security research

AMP Alarm, a Utah alarm company, is being sued by the Minnesota attorney general for consumer fraud and deceptive sales practices; the company practices door-to-door sales. ... Atlanta-based Vumii has been acquired by Israel's Opgal; both firms make night vision surveillance products. ... Columnist James Marcella reviews changes in video monitor technologies and how those changes affect the security industry. ... Unisys released the results of its annual security research project this week, and SIW takes a look at what the research tells us.