The security week that was: 11/12/10 (Get ready for Black Friday)

A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession


Getting ready for Black Friday

Two weeks from today, most of us are likely to be combing through the best shopping deals or strolling through the retail malls. But for the LP side of our industry, they'll be up to their ink tags in safety and security issues.

Black Friday. It was named "Black" Friday, because presumably this was the day that many retailers finally started seeing annual operations become profitable. However, in recent years, there is a second connotation. This is a day that sometimes shows the darkness of human emotions run amok, as over-eager buyers trample fellow shoppers to fight for that cheap electronics deal and get to that sales counter before they run out of merchandise.

Fortunately, ever since the tragic 2008 trampling death of a Walmart worker who was working the Black Friday opening, retailers have been more aware of the safety consequences of hyping cheap TV sets, upright vacuums and digital cameras. And OSHA has helped improve their awareness. Just this past week, OSHA sent a letter to executives at Dillards, Target, Macy's, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Sears, Kohl's, TJX, Costco, Best Buy, BJ's Wholesale Club, Toys "R" Us, Apple and Ikea (read a PDF file of letter). The letter advised those company's CEOs to consider crowd control management strategies. If you weren't on that list, you can still download a copy of OSHA's fact sheet on crowd control strategies.

To further your education on Black Friday, we recommend you take the time to read two columns on Black Friday security tips that are available one SIW. First, read Curtis Baillie's review of lessons learned from Black Friday; his blog post has some fantastic security tips. Also, we have published former Wal-Mart LP exec Eric White's thoughts on using the four C's to improve security and safety for Black Friday. Good luck as you make final preparation for Black Friday security.

A showdown looms
Body scanners not the Billboard hit TSA thought they'd be

When TSA rolled out the body scanners that can look through clothes to see hidden threats (knives, guns, bundles of drugs, etc.), I don't think they had any idea at the level of backlash they would face. Just this week, commercial pilots are being advised to avoid those machines, and that advice is even coming from pilot unions. Instead, they say that the pilots should request manual pat-downs. Of course that hasn't been without complaints either. The pat-down procedures recently changed, and some say the new procedures are something akin to full-frontal groping.

Almost simultaneously, the FDA has been pulled in to help the TSA's PR campaign for these body scanners. Just this week -- a little too coincidental in its timing, if you ask me -- the FDA issued a press release claiming that the radiation from the body scanners is OK for humans. My question for them is whether they properly tested the health effects; clearly it wasn't a study of the long-term health effects.

More bad news for POTS
10 percent annual disconnect rate on land lines

Reading through an article this morning about how Verizon and other companies were discontinuing the printing of phone books in some big markets, I stumbled upon an interesting fact that is important to this industry. Land line telephone connections, aka POTS, are decreasing at an overall disconnect rate of 10 percent per year. If that's not a sign that you should be looking at devices like IP communicators, cellular radios and private radio networks like AES, then I don't know what is.

In other news
More mergers and acquisitions, continued fallout from the air cargo plot

Continuing with the theme of ongoing mergers and acquisitions that we've seen in recent months, two competitors in the home automation market, iControl and uControl, have decided to pool their resources rather than battle it out… Maryland-based surveillance equipment provider Optelecom has been purchased by network and cable manufacturer TKH… As news continues to trickle out about the foiled air cargo bomb plot, the TSA announced this week that it has banned printer cartridges weighing over 16 ounces on all domestic and U.S.-bound international passenger flights and also banned air cargo originating in Somalia… Touring the country to promote his new book, former President George W. Bush has confirmed that the Sears Tower in Chicago was a terror target of the 9-11 terrorists.