Playing with Trucks; Playing for Keeps
Before radio-controlled toy trucks and kid-sized gasoline-powered trucks, before Tonka toys and windups, there were those tin toy trucks that – as a little boy – grandpa pushed around scaring mom’s cat. Today, a tin truck in excellent condition can fetch thousands.
In the real world of Peterbilts, expensive cargos, hazardous chemicals, specialty gangs and terrorists, the trucking industry, truckers and America are playing for keeps.
The U.S. trucking industry is a very big and essential business. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates 2006 revenue of $308 billion. Trucks carry almost 68 percent of all domestic tonnage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are about 3.24 million truck drivers. A big industry can have big security problems. FBI statistics show that freight theft is thought to exceed $10 billion annually while the Government Accountability Office estimates that number is as high as $40 billion per year.
Relative to homeland security concerns, there are new regulations, guidelines and training, driven by government, trucking association and fleet company actions and grants as well as technologies that better monitor America’s roads. Fleetowner.com recently reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to install radiation detection devices at points of entry into major cities to vet containers and trucks for dirty bombs.
Pilot tests will center in New York City.
On-Road Dirty Bomb Detection“[The Securing the Cities Initiative]…is a program to see how to deploy this kind of detection equipment, not only at seaports and ports of entry by land, but in cities and around cities, so we could detect a truck coming into a city with a dirty bomb, even if it didn’t cross an international border,” said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The initiative mirrors DHS development of next-generation radiation portal monitors to more accurately identify threats and reduce false alarms. Current-generation monitors set off alarms when they detect harmless, naturally radioactive materials such as granite and kitty litter, Fleetowner.com reported.
Beyond the big picture, civilian companies have developed a range of truck- and cargo-protecting products and systems that have grabbed news headlines and business attention. They range from sophisticated verification/identification systems to simple but effective truck locks to wireless fleet management offerings.
Success of such solutions, coming from the private sector, is not an easy drive.
Randy Brown, CEO of Ag Depot, with packaged/bulk handling, repackaging, manufacturing and transportation services for manufacturers and retailers of agricultural crop protection products, knows the pitfalls but also the potential losses to his business. Several years ago, Ag Depot was the victim of a $500,000 transportation chemical theft from its facility. It spurred Brown to come up with a real-time, Internet-based driver verification and identification system that allows shippers to verify and validate the driver prior to loading or unloading cargo.
Called Driver Passport, Brown expects acceptance by trucking and shipping security executives.
“No trucking or shipping company wants to discuss security, loss or theft, but all recognize it occurs,” said Brown. “It is the job of security and transportation professionals to do everything in their power to minimize loss and liability.”
Lock It Up BetterWith simple hardware devices, others aim at cargo thieves who see delivery vans and service trucks as easy targets. Too often, the only barrier between a thief and a vehicle’s contents is a standard door lock or padlocks, which are ineffective devices against a determined crook armed with the right tools. Within minutes or even seconds, a thief can dismantle a traditional lock, grab the goods and flee the scene.
One example of better locking devices comes from Esmet. It eliminates the shackle and hasp, thus eliminating weak points of conventional padlocks. Composed of two interlocking wings made from nickel-plated investment-cast 304 stainless steel, it is compatible with a variety of vehicle and building door types, including those which close inward, outward, are double-swinging and sliding and roll-up. It can be mounted flush, at a 90-degree corner or even on an outside corner. Included is a rekeyable high-security lock cylinder.
Such low-tech approaches appeal to cost-sensitive fleets but also to independent truckers, too.
Management SystemsThere is growing activity in a segment of the trucking industry in which business and security applications are bundled.
Earlier this year, wireless solutions company Numerex Corp. got together with GE to provide wireless machine-to-machine network connectivity to NavLogix, GE Security’s mobile resource management solution for fleet management and tracking.
NavLogix combines the Internet with GPS and cellular technologies for service fleets, such as utility, cable television and heating/air conditioning as well as other business fleets ranging from armored vehicles to heavy equipment.
Florida’s Hillsborough Transit Authority Enhances Public Transit System SecurityThe Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, Fla., has decided to enhance security and improve operations on its municipal buses and streetcars. HART’s local, commuter express and trolley routes span 250 square miles carrying more than 10 million passengers annually. In support of HART’s ongoing security enhancement initiatives, a new transit solution will help ensure a secure environment for staff and riders on its fleet of more than 200 buses and streetcars. HART will be able to deter vandalism and theft, accelerate emergency response and provide video evidence of significant security events.
“As the public transportation provider for the rapidly growing Hillsborough County region, HART maintains the highest safety standards for our passengers and employees,” said Raymond Miller, executive director of HART. “Verint’s Nextiva solution will help us improve awareness of what’s happening throughout our system and take immediate and informed action in the event of an emergency.”
Nextiva Transit was selected as the video solution for HART’s Computer Aided Dispatch, Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL) and Security Services system, which is being delivered by prime contractor and Verint partner, Orbital Transportation Management Systems. The system will be integrated with onboard wireless systems to enable HART to automatically upload video when a bus returns to the depot.
Stadium Managers Meeting Hears of Intelligent Video StrategiesA general session at the 2007 Stadium Managers Association (SMA) Annual Conference and Seminar held recently included participation from Praetorian business development manager Andrea Michels. Michels’ panel, entitled “Technology Convergence in Stadium Operations,” focused on strategies for upgrading legacy and/or analog stadium surveillance systems to digital formats.
SMA promotes the professional, efficient and state-of-the-art management of stadiums around the world. Their members are administrators, operators and marketing personnel from teams, government entities, colleges and universities and suppliers to the industry. SMA invited Michels to share her knowledge on technology convergence.
Michels oversees sales and product integration of Praetorian, an intelligent video surveillance system that is installed within stadiums and other large public venues. Most recently, Praetorian was deployed at Super Bowl XLI in Miami to monitor secure event sites including the NFL Store and NFL Experience.
In conjunction with the Miami-Dade Police and Fire Departments, Security, Athletic Facilities & Events (S.A.F.E) Management and Alpha Security Products, Inc., Praetorian’s multiple-site surveillance information monitoring and management platform and advanced video analytics and alert system were used to monitor and secure events leading up to the Super Bowl as well as during the game.
The system is an open-architecture, scalable software suite, consisting of three separate but fully integrated application modules: Video Flashlight (a single-screen, real-time 3D surveillance monitoring interface); Hawk (a multiple-site surveillance information management platform); and VisionAlert (advanced video analytics and alerts).
Since its initial launch Jan. 21, 2007, the system was deployed for early warning perimeter protection, giving operators the ability to detect a breach or unauthorized motion in critical event areas. The system also helped increase public safety, applying sophisticated video analytics to cameras in parking lots, outlying areas, the NFL Store and The NFL Experience – an 850,000 square foot theme park – allowing for easy detection of loitering, left-behind objects and other aberrant crowd behavior. The system provided for swift, proactive action in even the most densely populated event sites.
Federal Government Awards IT Company to Provide Encryption SoftwareThe General Services Administration (GSA) has awarded a Multiple Award Schedule. The contract was awarded to California-based IT solution provider Aurora Enterprises, which specializes in data security and compliance solutions for the medical, finance and government verticals. Aurora is to provide encryption products and consulting services from PGP Corporation. PGP provides encryption solutions that Aurora deploys onto laptop computers, desktop computers and in e-mail.
Aurora Enterprises CEO Philip de Souza described the six-month process of securing the contract as “difficult, but understandable given the significance of the achievement. GSA representatives interviewed both Aurora staff and our current and former clients. They had to prove that we are experienced and worthy of the contract. The government had to be certain they’re getting the best price as well as the most qualified people to provide this crucial service.”
Philadelphia’s Port Richmond to Use Video to Combat CrimePort Richmond in Philadelphia, Pa. has been the scene of illegal dumping, vandalism and more serious crimes. As a result, business owners, police and city officials decided that video surveillance was necessary. The Port Richmond Industrial Development Enterprise (PRIDE) has chosen to install video surveillance to monitor Philadelphia’s revitalization of its developing Port Richmond industrial area.
PRIDE is a public-private partnership formed by owners and managers of industrial enterprises in the Port Richmond area who joined forces to improve the environment in which they operate, in an effort to increase profitability and retain and expand businesses and employment.
PRIDE, Controlled Access LLC and On-Net Surveillance Systems (OnSSI) have worked together to create a security system with strategically placed and remotely operated cameras. Key features in the platform are motion detection, variable resolution recording and transmission, high-resolution recording for forensic analysis, two-way audio and remote capabilities to aid police on site at crime scenes.
Controlled Access chose the open-architecture system by OnSSI, combined with Sony and IQinVision cameras. Using this system, police and select PRIDE business owners will be able log in and view live and recorded video directly from their computer.
The main challenge was to design a solution that would meet the requirements of the three groups. Business owners wanted to monitor and review incidents of vandalism and dumping, police were concerned about more serious crimes and the city wanted to make the area safer overall – and therefore more attractive to developers and business owners. Based on crime statistics and the concerns voiced by business owners, a system was designed to monitor key areas.
Revisiting Rock Solid SystemHoward Long’s title was inadvertently omitted
from the article, “Rock Solid System,” (Security, Feb. 2007, p. 72). Long is
senior director of café properties for Hard Rock Café. Security Magazine
regrets the error.
Feb. 2007 Issue
SIDEBAR: Letter to the EditorWhy Go Contract for Security Officers?
Dear Security Magazine,
Deciding between using an outside contractor to provide security and going “in-house” has challenged many managers over the years. Often the choice not to go to an agency is driven purely by the misconception that it will cost more money. After all, those big security companies have huge overheads and make big profits.
The reality though, is that most security contractors have developed efficiencies in order to compete in a low margin; volume-based business in order to support the necessary overheads, and modest profit and to deliver a quality security officer to their client. If a detailed comparison was taken of in-house security versus contract with pay levels being equal, it is my belief that there would be little to no cost advantage and the contract security would attract a higher quality officer as well as better trained and motivated.
Canadian security contractors offer opportunities to employees wishing to make security their career. In most in-house settings they would not likely do so. Security officers wishing and possessing the qualities to advance, and recognized as such by their employers, are given opportunities for advanced training and development to move up in their organization. Many officers advance to higher paying, higher profile sites, as well as being promoted to supervisor or middle-management positions, and many times senior positions in major corporations.
There are however many locations both in-house and contract where an extremely low level of service is provided. This is usually not a result of the provider, but as a direct result of pay levels. If you are willing to only pay for the lowest level of security available, you get what you pay for.
This is where security contractors, in many cases, get a bad rap. Often they are put in bidding wars with their competitor where the lowest price gets the business. As this is a volume business with low margins, many companies get seduced into reducing pay rates in order to maintain market share. I have known many multi-million dollar businesses that have put their investors at risk, employees and customers’ futures in the hands of a lone minimum wage, untrained employee assigned to protect their assets for 128 of the 168 hours per week.
When considering in-house vs. contract, these factors should come into play:
- Costs are not limited to pay rates. Government payloads, vacation pay, medical benefits, WSIB, training, severance, uniforms and insurance must be included.
- Training: Who will be the trainer? Will they be competent to train in many security functions? Where will the courses come from? Will they meet government standards?
- Human Resources: Who will hire, background check, license, maintain records, schedule and deal with unionization, discipline or terminations?
- Liability: Who will take responsibility in a legal action? What has been done in order to not be found negligent, and have all aspects been addressed in relation to personal safety? Have we met minimum standards on training? Do post-orders cover all aspects related to the specific job specifications?
- Back up: Who will cover for vacation, illness, last minute book off, no shows, resignations and emergencies?
- Supervision: How will you ensure all shifts are supervised? Who can attend the site after-hours in case of an emergency?
John Rankin, CPP
Senior Regional Vice President
G4S Security Services (Canada) Ltd.