Out-of-the-box solutions highlight 2015 Security Innovation Award winners

Nov. 4, 2015
Houston area UASI district brought together multiple partners to deploy a new technology called datacasting and win top project award

When it comes to successful technology implementation, innovation is often the result of well-planned collaboration. That is certainly the case as Security Technology Executive magazine and SecurityInfoWatch.com announce the winning security projects for the 2015 Security Innovation Awards, presented each year for the most compelling examples of innovation and collaboration.

For the ninth consecutive year, industry experts judged project submitted by end users, systems integrators, PE firms and security solutions providers from every major vertical market. Our judges looked for projects that provided clear evidence of the tight cooperation and work between the project participants; how an end-user solved a unique security and/or business problem by using one or multiple security technologies; new and innovative ways to deploy and use security technology, improve existing systems, or in building a new security infrastructure; and best practices from a business perspective regarding budgets, funding, training, security ROI.

These were tough criteria for judging, but the five projects that stood out amongst those submitted embraced the challenge. From a city public safety perspective that protected a major event to a busy international airport retrofit, from a state-wide surveillance deployment to virtual port solution at one of America’s premier seaports, each project displayed a vision and spirit of cooperation that our judges felt made them Gold medal winning projects. The judges also recognized one submission as its best collaborative example, although it didn’t reflect a specific project.

However, one project was so unique in its scope and application that it was a unanimous selection as the 2015 Grand Platinum winner signifying the top overall security project of the year. It also happens to be housed in the host city of Houston, which is the site of the Secured Cities Conference next week and the host of the Security Innovation Awards luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Reliant Park, Thursday, November 12.

The Houston area UASI district brought together multiple partners to deploy a new technology called datacasting that allows for the speedy transmission of data – communication, voice and other wireless applications – across the entire public safety network employing the same technology broadcast television has used for almost 80 years.

The need to deliver data, especially video, to multiple users in the field is increasing and public safety networks are struggling to keep up. Dashboard and body cameras, helicopter video, satellite imagery, location data and many other sources reflect the increasing requirement to manage data as well as voice. FirstNet will begin to address this concern and may be even further enhanced by incorporating additional spectrum and capabilities. Datacasting bridges these two worlds allowing television broadcast signals to deliver secure encrypted and targetable video and other data to first responders. Datacasting was recently deployed in a pilot project conducted in Houston to provide a new data centric delivery network, take advantage of their native one-to-many broadcast efficiencies and improve interoperability by allowing information sharing across agencies.

On July 20-24, 2015, multiple public safety users including the City of Houston, Houston PD, the University of Houston, Texas Medical Center, NRG Stadium, Metro PD and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office participated in a joint exercise to demonstrate the ability of datacasting to support public safety communications in an operational environment.

Content management and video resources from existing service providers including Vidsys and Haystax Digital Sandbox were incorporated to inject content into the broadcast. In all, over a dozen organizations collaborated to test and evaluate this new capability.

The focus was on improving interoperability by sharing content across multiple jurisdictions utilizing existing broadcast television spectrum. This event also how public-private partnerships can be leveraged to address growing content delivery needs.

The Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) oversaw the project. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate provided funding, direction and coordination.

One of the awards judges said the following about the City of Houston datacasting project, “The City of Houston really grabbed the proverbial “bull by the horns” with this project. Rather than simply waiting for FirstNet to come online, Houston took the initiative to advance communications among public safety agencies by taking a truly out-of-the-box approach to leverage existing capabilities offered via the city’s public broadcasting television station. We often hear about the need to push greater situational awareness to first responders in the field, but the capability just isn’t there for most municipalities.”

The four Gold Winners for best vertical market sectors included the State of Hawaii for the Best Enterprise-Wide project, the Los Angeles World Airports and LAX for the Best Transit Security project, the California city of Hollister for the Best Public Safety project, and the Port of Long Beach, which was recognized for the Best Critical Infrastructure project. Microsoft and several of its technology partners were awarded a special accolade for the Microsoft Advanced Patrol Platform citing them for Best Collaborative Security project. A brief synopsis of each Gold medal winner follows:

State of Hawaii project -- Deploying several hundred IP cameras across the state of Hawaii to function in a variety of roles, systems integrator Hawaiya Technologies, Inc. has completed a five-phase project to assist multiple end users in the surveillance of harbors and sites. A project with discussions dating back to 2003, the state of Hawaii applied for a Homeland Security grant to build a system providing maritime coverage across its six main inhabited islands. Up to that point, there was no coordinated or inter-island surveillance available to any government or privately licensed entities. Encompassing multiple factions of the Hawaiian government properties, Hawaiya was tasked with building an all-inclusive structure to cover an abundance of entities.

They are tasked with keeping watch over the primary harbors and critical infrastructure sites across the state, and also take on responsibilities in other safety-first environments. The Department of Public Safety (DOPS) utilizes their set-ups in both the Sheriff Division and Corrections Division where they use Axis network cameras in three recently upgraded prisons. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has a contract as well with Hawaiya at the Honolulu Airport Maintenance Yard as well as the Dillingham Airfield.

“The scope of this project goes beyond your typical video surveillance installation as it entailed the deployment of cameras at multiple harbors and critical infrastructure sites across Hawaii, each of which presented their own unique technical and environmental challenges that Hawaiya Technologies had to account for,” said one of the awards judges. “Tying together video at so many remote locations is no easy task and Hawaiya deserves to be recognized for their efforts.”

LAX ARCC and EGIS project -- Airports are a lot like miniature cities -- complex and expansive, with lots of moving parts and disruptive incidents that need to be managed daily. By their nature, incidents tend to be dynamic and evolve quickly. Their successful resolution hinges on real time information and precise coordination. One significant bottleneck to effective incident management is siloed systems. Most airports employ complex layers of technology for managing security, safety, and operations. But in spite of this, perhaps even more so because of it, it’s difficult for stakeholders to get the big picture. What’s needed but often lacking is the ability to analyze and synthesize data across systems so stakeholders can achieve real time, shared situational awareness.

As one of the world’s busiest airports (serving 71 million passengers annually), and also one of the most innovative airports for new technology adoption, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) understands this challenge well. So, working with its partners on the LAX Airport Response Coordination Center (ARCC) and GIS project, airport officials devised a creative solution to address this problem. The $13.9 million Airport Response Coordination Center (ARCC) acts as a high-tech nerve center that streamlines operational efficiency and crisis management capabilities via one dedicated facility staffed by both airport and federal agency personnel.  An adjacent room houses the Incident Management Center (IMC), which is activated in the event of a critical incident or airport emergency.  The IMC acts as a command center and integrates all resources of responding airport divisions and federal agencies.

“This innovative solution to managing information and events takes a proactive approach to both security and safety,” said another judge of the LAX project. “They have streamlined processes and provided analytics to track events and provided situational awareness dashboards that are real problem solvers. So they solved both security and compliance issues by taking innovation to the next level.”

City of Hollister project -- Using technologically advanced video surveillance cameras coupled with the use of intelligent real-time applications and team collaboration tools, the City of Hollister Police Department revolutionized the management, resource deployment and information delivery to provide security for its highly popular and heavily attended 2015 Hollister Bike Rally. With public safety at stake, the Hollister Police Department implemented a location based social media monitoring platform that automatically monitored, gathered and archived all public social media content in and around Downtown Hollister.  This approach complemented the extensive array of IP video surveillance cameras used by public safety agencies. Now also armed with location based intelligence the Police Department was able to monitor, engage and analyze social media feeds in real-time from the Rally. The Department started with the locations that matter most; such as the Beer Gardens and Outlaw Motorcycle Club gathering locations to increase situational awareness, reduce response time, and assist first responders.

Very few police departments have “truly integrated” their policy and technology layers in a “Common Operating Picture” that brings together a unified command and control system and delivers real-time information to first responders as well as to their distributed command layer. The Hollister Police Department was able to deliver and share all information that was available to deployed officers at the Rally in an appropriate and important timeframe from all relevant sources.

Port of Long Beach project -- As POLB worked to create a world class security automation program, the need to store, sort, prioritize and manipulate data became evident.  It was determined early in the benchmarking process that no product existed in the marketplace and that no off-the-shelf solutions were available.  The Security Division immediately started to look into various independent solutions that could provide special capabilities necessary to accomplish the overarching detail that the Port was attempting to achieve.  The focus of that activity was primarily Geographic Imaging Systems (GIS) and the visual representation of data that could be acquired through that type of system.  Through a request for statement of qualification process and a subsequent white paper and demonstration process, potential developers of the Virtual Port system were identified and evaluated.  The team led by Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) was selected to develop the Virtual Port platform. 

Virtual Port provides a dynamic operational planning tool for real time status of activities and events throughout the Port.  It supplies Port stakeholders with timely data for business resiliency, daily operations, threat and incident response, asset and property management and event documentation.   Virtual Port is a user friendly, geo-spatially based system.  It is a modular platform that consists of numerous independent software applications that create a tool box concept. 

“This project serves as a prime example of what can be accomplished when proprietary silos of technology are broken down and integrated into a platform that delivers actual intelligence to security end users,” commented one awards judge. “The team at the Port of Long Beach could have simply opted to deploy a traditional PSIM platform, but they went further than that with the implementation of Virtual Port, which provides a level of situational awareness above and beyond what most software systems are currently able to deliver in the physical security realm. “  

Best Collaborative project -- The Microsoft Advanced Patrol Platform (MAPP) is a joint effort between Microsoft Global Security, Worldwide Solutions, OEM, Worldwide Public Safety and Justice and Microsoft Partners. MAPP is currently demonstrated on a Ford Police Interceptor SUV branded to represent Microsoft technologies and partners.  This patrol car will feature cutting-edge hardware, software, Windows Apportals and Azure Cloud integration. Featured products include:  Windows, Office, Azure, Lumia, HP, Getac, IRSA, VIEVU, Smartvue, AT&T, SuperDroid Robots, Aeryon Labs Inc, SecureWatch 24, Dell, Genetec, Havis, Whelen, Setina, Microsoft Consulting Services, and Bloom Consulting. 

Specifically designed to show the future of mobile law enforcement and its interaction with technology, this project is a use case for the Microsoft Azure Government platform and Windows Devices. It strengthens Microsoft partner ties and external partnerships, all forces coming together to build a better tomorrow for law enforcement.

The goal is to take the brick and mortar crime data center and make it mobile. The MAPP car can essentially become the command center with all of the information and intelligence that is usually only found at the station.

“Although there was no specific project or case study associated with this submission, the sheer scope of high level cooperation and technical expertise could not be overlooked,” said the judges. “Working for a strategic solution to help enhance law enforcement and public safety efforts was most remarkable.”

If you are interested in attending the conference or the Security Innovation Awards luncheon, please go to www.securedcities.com and register.

About the Author

Steve Lasky | Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief/Security Technology Executive

Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes the magazine's Security Technology Executive, Security Business, and Locksmith Ledger International, and the top-rated website SecurityInfoWatch.com. He is also the host of the SecurityDNA podcast series.Steve can be reached at [email protected]