There are more than 60 jurisdictions across America that now use closed circuit video to patrol street and highway intersections with stop lights. The aim is to prevent drivers from running red lights and to catch and fine drivers who do run the lights. The application has been in place in some locales for more than 10 years but it is spreading. And so is the controversy. Some lawyers, representing the accused red light runners, charge that the camera systems are nothing more than revenue generators for towns and cities. More troubling, a draft report from the office of U.S. House of Representatives' Majority Leader Dick Armey (Rep.) will suggest that yellow light times are reduced when red light cameras are installed - and that endangers people's safety.

Black Eye Biometrics

Is the high profile use of facial recognition by a couple of police departments giving biometrics a black eye? Just a couple of weeks ago, protestors gained international attention when they demonstrated against the use of security cameras and facial recognition in a tourist neighborhood in Tampa, Florida. Visionics Corp. and its FaceIt biometrics technology are getting plenty of face time: first at the Super Bowl where FaceIt allegedly identified people from a "wanted" database but no arrests were ever made and then in the 16-block Ybor City area of Tampa. While most everyone agrees that people should not expect privacy in a public place, it's also obvious that the attention.

Keep on Truckin' with Tracking

The hot mix of global positioning and two-way wireless communication is just picking up more speed. The latest splash:

Satellite Security Systems (S3) of North America uses Motorola's reflex two-way, GPS, client Internet access and a proprietary monitoring and support center to track mobile assets. The systems also allow end users to obtain information such as speed, direction of travel, longitude and latitude of vehicles as well as remotely control functions of a vehicle. S3 wants to spread its technology to individual consumers so mom and pop can track a teenage son or an old-age relative. There are also some significant hurdles. For example, there are plenty of places near and far where a truck or grandpa would be out of range of wireless communications. And then there's the bad press: a car rental agency is under investigation for charging customers fees for speeding as determined by its vehicle tracking system.

Most Effective Security Program

It's called personal accountability. Organizations that stress personal responsibility for all their employees are already ahead of the curve. Of course, it doesn't hurt to back it up with reasonable security programs that include electronic monitoring. In the retail sector, where employee theft accounts for 44 cents of every dollar lost as compared to 33 cents for shoplifting, security operations now use sophisticated and expensive software from firms such as Hightower Software and Datadvantage to analyze sales data and red-flag suspect sales associates.

From FBI to Plastic Cards

Check out the next former FBI breakfast at ASIS. Louis Freeh could be in attendance. The newly retired FBI director is now the senior vice chairman of administration at MBNA Corp., the giant credit card lender. Among many duties, he will be responsible for the bank's security and transportation services. Ironically, MBNA chairman Alfred Lerner had already hired retired U.S. Secret Service Director Lewis Merletti as executive vice president of stadium and security for the Cleveland Browns football franchise. So Merletti could be at the ASIS former Secret Service breakfast in San Antonio, too.