New Orleans Launches High-Tech Assault on Crime

The City of New Orleans is employing a new, high-tech approach to fighting crime by deploying a network of IP-based cameras citywide to provide infrastructure protection and increased crime fighting capability. Seeking to boost security, city officials tapped into a number of technologies, including the latest in networking, wireless communications, telecommunications and fiber optics.

“Leveraging cutting-edge technology to find creative, cost effective solutions has been a top priority in my administration,” said Mayor C. Ray Nagin. “With this system in place, it will be like virtual police patrolling our streets, deterring and fighting crime.”

Serving as the eyes of the system, SNC-RZ30N cameras from Sony Electronics were configured into systems mounted high on power poles above the city streets with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom to read a license plate from hundreds of feet away. Many of the cameras were deployed to crime “hot spots” throughout the city’s 6th Police District. Images captured on the street are digitized and sent via the city’s network to a main server archive for Internet-based monitoring.

The New Orleans surveillance camera project is expected to be fully deployed by the end of the year, and will be one of the largest in the country.

AAPA President Addresses Federal Seaport Funding

On the National Press Club’s Feb. 8 Newsmaker news conference, AAPA President Kurt Nagle spoke at length regarding what he described as federal under-funding of seaport security and Corps of Engineers harbor and channel dredging. Nagle noted that funding for seaport security in the federal budget proposed earlier this year was far below what U.S. public ports needed for implementing new, federally-mandated seaport security programs.

Senators from both parties have since voiced their support for Nagle. Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and the Ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Management, Budget and International Security, Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) have urged the Budget Committee to include $300 million to secure U.S. ports, a marked increase over the president’s proposed $46 million.

While airports receive most of the federal attention and funding for security/terrorism prevention, seaports – which support 4 million jobs and annually handle $2 trillion worth of cargo and more than 7 million cruise ship passengers – are largely under-funded, according to Nagle.

Within the next 15 years, industry analysts predict the approximately 2 billion tons of cargo that U.S. ports and waterways handle now each year will double. At that rate, the volume of trade moving through America’s port facilities will grow to as much as one-third of the Gross Domestic Product. In response, seaports across the country are expanding to meet the increased demand for their services, necessitating huge expenditures in infrastructure, equipment and personnel.

ACC Supports Bill to Secure Chemical Facilities

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), Arlington, Va., has reiterated its longstanding support for federal chemical security legislation.

In a recent statement, ACC member companies, representing approximately 90 percent of U.S. basic chemical product, recognized that more work needs to be done to protect the nation’s chemical sector, and continued to urge the Bush Administration and Congress to work together to enact security-focused legislation that would:

  • Establish national standards for security of chemical facilities,

  • Require facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and implement security plans and

  • Provide DHS with oversight, inspection and enforcement authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, as well as the Coast Guard, the states of Maryland and New Jersey, and the city of Baltimore, have acknowledged the ACC’s security code as a benchmark security program.

Wireless Hotspot Scam Concerns Security Managers

Coffeehouse, bookstore and bread shop wireless Web access is becoming ever more popular with the mobile businessman. But just as wireless hotspots attract the tech-savvy, crooks have also begun to catch on to the scent.

One common example of the new security threats posed by public wireless activity is the so-called “Evil Twin” scam. Identity and information thieves have been using wireless devices to impersonate legitimate Internet access points, stealing credit card numbers as well as corporate or privileged information like client databases. Evil twin attacks require only a wireless laptop and widely available software to broadcast a radio signal that overpowers the real hot spot. Masquerading as the network their victim meant to sign on to, they then view the user’s activities from within several hundred feet.

“Wireless networks are wide open,” said Steve Lewack, director of technology services for Columbus Regional Medical Center in Columbus, Ga. Lewack’s facility uses software and sensors to monitor 480 wireless devices used by medical personnel at 110 access points. Last month, it stopped about 120 attempts to steal financial information from medical personnel and patients – twice the number of incidents from a few months earlier.

As the technology has grown – there are now about 20,000 hot spots in the U.S., up from 12,000 a year ago – so too have security concerns. As more companies and employees take advantage of hotspots when traveling or even working through lunch, security managers must take the potential for intrusion into consideration when drafting such corporate security policies.

Smithsonian Fire Systems to be Serviced

SimplexGrinnell, Boca Raton, Fla., a business unit of Tyco Fire & Security, announced multi-million dollar agreements with the Smithsonian Institution for testing and inspection of fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems at 49 Smithsonian facilities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Under the agreements, the company will provide inspection and testing, maintenance, repair, emergency service and associated reports for fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems in Smithsonian museums, office buildings and warehouses.

The services will help ensure the systems and other related fire protection equipment remain in good physical condition and in proper working order. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum complex and research organization, with 18 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and research centers. Founded in 1845, the Smithsonian Castle lost many priceless documents and works of art to fire in 1865.

TSA Working Around Implants

Even with improved technology, commercial airline passengers these days are setting off more metal detector alarms than ever before. And neither terrorists nor over-sensitive scanners are at fault; it’s the Baby Boomers.

More specifically, the rise is correlated to the marked increase in prosthetic implants in passengers’ bodies. As Baby Boomers take advantage of medical marvels to keep them living active lifestyles in their advancing years, metal detectors are paying the price. Bionic devices, from pacemakers, defibrillators and other heart equipment, to orthopedic implants, can ruffle airport security procedures, especially if disturbed during pat-downs, while wands can have other adverse effects on electronic implants.

TSA has put together an instructional video for its employees on dealing with internal prosthetics like newly implanted heart devices without harming passengers. Blake Hunter, founder of the Pacemaker Club, Fredericton, New Brunswick, said that a lot of patients worry about the unwanted public attention. “You’re singled out in the crowd,” said Hunter in an interview with USA Today. He also noted that many of the visitors to his Web site come to complain about airport searches.

Wireless Decision Support System

RAE Systems Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., announced an alliance with Alluviam LLC to launch the release of HazRAE, a hazardous materials decision support application for chemical, biological and WMD assessment that runs on handheld, wireless devices. HazRAE was developed to address the unique needs of first responders and features an integrated response database system consisting of more than 91,000 chemical, biological warfare and bioterror agents, trade names and improvised explosive devices.

Viscount Begins MESH Sales to Hospitals

Viscount Systems Inc., Burnaby, British Columbia announced that it has commenced shipping the company’s MESH orders to a number of hospitals internationally. “We are targeting hospitals and critical care facilities as logical markets,” said Viscount president and CEO Stephen Pineau. Current installations include Ontario’s Lady Dunn Health Center, where the company is installing a server array for 30 secured doors.