A Dirty Bomb? New York City Looks at New Detection Technology

The New York City Police Department is testing ground-breaking counterterror technology expected to dramatically increase its ability to detect and thwart a potential radiation attack. The technology will allow a command center in lower Manhattan to monitor 2,000 mobile radiation detectors carried by officers each day around the city. The detectors will send a wireless, real-time alert if there is a reading signaling a dirty bomb threat. The system already is being tested under the watch of federal authorities in hopes it can be perfected and used elsewhere. The radiation detection system is being developed as part of a $200 million lower Manhattan security initiative. Police said the overall plan was inspired by the so-called "ring of steel" encircling the business district in London, England, but is broader in scope and sophistication. The initiative will rely largely on 3,000 security cameras carpeting the roughly 1.7 square miles south of Canal Street, the subway system, and parts of midtown Manhattan. So far, about 1,800 cameras are up and running, with the rest expected to come on line by the end of the year.


Some Postal Carriers Know What to Steal

Postal jewel heists: Can they be ‘stamped’ out? After more than 25 packages went missing within 6 months, investigators from the Post Office Inspector General's office and Manhattan District Attorney's (DA) in New York City placed a tracking device inside a package bound for the district that was designed to send out an alert when the parcel was opened. The sting worked. In late July, the suspect of Brooklyn was sitting inside his car at the post office's West 43rd Street garage when he opened the parcel and set off the tracking device's silent alarm, according to a criminal complaint. Investigators pounced on the alleged pilfering postman just as he tried to reseal the package. "I opened the package today because I thought there was jewelry inside of it," he admitted to investigators, according to the complaint. The suspect was released on $7,500 bail. The U.S. Postal Service said mail theft is a "rare occurrence" among the city's 8,323 mail carriers.


FCC Reaches Border Security Communications Agreement with Canada, Mexico

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced early last month that it has reached arrangements with Industry Canada and Mexico's Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) for sharing commercial wireless broadband spectrum in the 700 MHz band along the U.S.-Canadian and U.S.-Mexican border areas. The FCC also reached an arrangement with Industry Canada for sharing spectrum in the 800 MHz band. These actions will help support commercial broadband services and public safety mission-critical voice communications. The technical sharing principles reached on 800 MHz will pave the way for completion of 800 MHz rebanding by U.S. public safety and commercial licensees operating along the U.S.-Canadian border. The FCC ordered rebanding to alleviate interference to public safety licensees in the band caused by commercial cellular licensees. The arrangement specifies (1) how primary channels will be allotted between the United States and Canada, (2) the technical parameters for operation on these channels within 140 kilometers (87 miles) of the common border, and (3) a schedule for transitioning facilities from the channels needed by the United States to complete rebanding along the U.S.-Canadian border.


Seal of Approval for California State Bollards

You can customize hardened security. For example, four highly customized seals have been added to the tops of bollards that protect California’s state capitol facilities in Sacramento from truck bomb attacks.  The four seals include the Great Seal of the State of California, the Governor’s Seal, the Assembly Seal and the Senate Seal. 

Not only do they protect State Capitol employees, visitors and tourists from the threat of truck bombers but they add to the beauty of the State Capitol grounds.

The seals were custom made by Delta Scientific for the State of California using a combination of laser stereo lithography in tandem with rapid prototyping resin molds and hand-sculpted clay to enhance their elaborate detail.  They were then placed on top of decorative bollards that were already installed at the entrances to Capitol facilities.


HID Global’s Federal Identity Initiative and Delivery Strategy: White Paper Available

U.S.government agencies are faced with the difficult challenge of complying with evolving standards for secure and reliable forms of identification used by Federal employees and contractors. These standards were initiated in August 2004 when President Bush ordered the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12). According to a February 2011 memorandum issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), starting next fiscal year, existing physical and logical access control systems must now be upgraded to use Personal Identification Verification (PIV) credentials in accordance with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines, before federal agencies may use development and technology refresh funds to complete other activities. These systems must leverage smartcard and biometric technology and supports identification credentials according to government guidelines.

HID Global’s Federal Identity Compliance Initiative will enable agencies to cut the cost and complexity of Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 201 (FIPS-201) compliance using a modular hardware approach and the industry’s only turnkey offering from a single supplier. The initiative combines the company’s strengths in access control solutions and technology migration, the enhanced cryptographic security of its next-generation reader platform, and the extensive identity-assurance portfolio it acquired from ActivIdentity, a recently purchased HID company. Customers will be able to deploy HID Global readers that are seamlessly integrated with its ActivIdentity ActivEntry upgrade modules, and achieve full FIPS 201 compliance without having to replace their current physical access control head-end server, panel or door control hardware.

The first paper describes HID Global’s new compliance initiative, which is unique in providing a fully interoperable, simple-to-deploy, cost-effective and turnkey solution that has been tested and validated under the company’s Genuine HID umbrella. The initiative gives agencies a single point of deployment responsibility for FIPS-201 compliance, ensuring they can achieve compliance quickly, effectively and with all necessary audit support, on an incremental, pay-as-you-go basis, while preserving investments in their existing infrastructure. Go to www.hidglobal.com


Traffic Intersections Smarten Up to Better Time Signals

While consumers have myriad in-car and smartphone applications to manage their routes and traffic challenges, municipalities are now joining in with traffic safety for first responders getting a high tech makeover. Maricopa County, Ariz., is using dedicated short-range communications to improve safety at intersections. As part of a research project through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s IntelliDrive program (formerly the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration initiative), the county is equipping six intersections and numerous emergency vehicles with technology that allows them to exchange data. Messages will request service and tell the traffic signal what type of vehicle is approaching, an associate professor at the University of Arizona’s College of Engineering says. The university’s research has focused on how to take the vehicles’ requests and determine the best way to time the traffic signals to serve them.

Another transportation system being developed by two retired firefighters will interface with smartphones and GPS systems to alert drivers when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Drivers today are less aware of approaching first responders due to better insulation in vehicles and enhanced audio systems, says a retired firefighter and president of B&C Electronic Engineering. He and the vice president of engineering are creating 911 Emergency and Traffic Alerts (911ETA), which use automatic vehicle locators already installed in many emergency vehicles and tie that data to personal navigation devices and smartphones. 911ETA interfaces with a department’s computer-aided dispatch system, and will be a downloadable application people can install on their GPS or smartphone. The app, not publicly available yet, maintains a 1,000-foot bubble around the person’s vehicle. If an emergency vehicle enters that bubble, an audible alert tells the driver what direction responders are approaching from.


PSIM Software Helped Protect National Mall During Fourth of July Celebrations

The United States Park Police (USPP) in a technology trial to protect the hundreds of thousands of people from around the country during the annual Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., worked with VidSys, a provider of physical security information management (PSIM) software. The software was leveraged to monitor for, respond to and manage potential security threats throughout the National Mall and Memorials area. It integrated, correlated and analyzed data across the disparate security systems and devices in place throughout the National Mall and Memorials area, providing the USPP and other agencies with the shared intelligence and appropriate standard operating procedures necessary to effectively work together to pro-actively identify and resolve situations.  By providing one common operating picture, commanders had complete area visibility.

“Every year, large crowds assemble here to celebrate the birth of our nation and we are tasked with protecting their safety as well as the area’s national icons as part of the critical infrastructure delineated by the Department of Homeland Security,” says Captain David Mulholland, commander of technology services, United States Park Police. “Software that delivers real-time information, analysis and situational awareness to our commanders and enables us to collaborate in real time with our partner agencies to ensure effective responses to unfolding situations is a critical need.”


Video Analytics Sent to Jail

Scott County Jail in Minnesota is a newly constructed full service facility that has been occupied since 2005. The facility covers 88,737 square feet, which includes 160 cells that house sentence and pre-trial adult male and female offenders. Juvenile delinquent offenders are also housed there for a limited time.

The facility has a secure tunnel that connects the jail to the Scott County Justice Center, to provide for the efficient and safe movement of prisoners to and from court. In addition, there is a secure courtroom within the jail itself for initial arraignments.

Scott County Jail sought a real-time video analytics solution to assist in the detection of unauthorized people in restricted zones. Automatic detections are most appropriate to serve the security needs due to the substantial size of the site, which otherwise would demand a large number of staff physically patrolling the restricted zones, or a corrections officer keeping watch and picking up irregularities on nearly 100 screens.

To allow for the effective deployment of the corrections staff following an incident, the jail sought a highly reliable analytics system that provides high probability of detection and very low false alarm rates. Furthermore, it was of great importance that the video analytics be installed without having to make changes to their existing surveillance system.

The facility turned to Agent Vi to deploy its real-time video analytics solution. Of 186 cameras at the site, the jail required the enabling of 90 cameras with video analytics capabilities by embedding the component in the Axis encoders that stream video from the analog cameras.

With 90 channels enabled with real-time detection capabilities, corrections staff is alerted immediately to breaches of defined secure zones, allowing them to decide – as the event occurs – how to best respond to the incident.


Connecting a Secure Group of Facilities in Estes Park, Colorado

With many diverse types of buildings, widely scattered and each having different access control needs, the Town of Estes Park, Colo. faced a complicated security situation. Linking all the facilities through a networked electronic access control system that integrates online and offline functions seamlessly made it possible to meet the needs of each facility.

Over the years, many of the town’s buildings have been converted from their original use to a different purpose, with consequent changes in security

IT/LAN Support Specialist Bruce Walters explains, “When we changed the high school into the town hall, we went from giving free access between classrooms to trying to limit access and protect our employees.”  At the same time, certain areas needed to be accessible after hours for public meetings and use by community groups.

The first installations used Schlage offline computer-managed locks, in which data that controls access is downloaded to each lock individually, using a PDA. These offline locks are still used at several remote locations such as water facilities, which do not require frequent data upgrades.

Moving to broaden electronic access control throughout its facilities, the town began using wireless online locks. With such a variety of existing buildings, this eliminated the need to pull wires to each opening while still providing online access control. This approach also makes instant access data changes available at every lock. The two types of lock are integrated with a Schlage security management system, which manages both online and standalone offline locks from a single database.


Federal FEMA Goes PIV

Contributed by Bob Fontana

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides the foundation for disaster planning and response in the United States when local and state government agencies require support. Its Washington, D.C. office is visited by hundreds of people each day, with a high number of cross-over visits from other federal agency employees.

With the advent of HSPD-12 and OMB M-11-11, FEMA began the process of leveraging the full capabilities of Personal Identification Verification (PIV) credentials now in the possession of 4.5 million federal employees and contractors.

In late 2010, ADT Government Solutions began working with FEMA to execute a two-phase process of registering its employees’ PIV cards into its enterprise-wide physical access control system (PACS). Next, it deployed a new web-based visitor management system to electronically validate visitors’ PIV cards and provide an electronic visitor audit-trail.

“What FEMA is doing sets them apart,” says Don Woody, senior technology management executive for ADT Government Solutions, who directed the deployment at FEMA’s Washington, D.C. facility. “By streamlining its visitor management process, FEMA now has a high-assurance credentialing system that is seamlessly integrated to its PACs, is HSPD-12 compliant,  and reduces manpower required to process, track and escort visitors.” 

The system works like this: FEMA streamlined its PIV registration process by using PIVCheck Plus software and several dedicated workstations to read, validate, authenticate and automatically register each FEMA PIV card into its existing PACS. Now, the process to register a fully-vetted PIV card into the PACS takes less than 30 seconds.

The new visitor management system allows for Web-based pre-authorization of visitors. When a guest from another agency arrives in the lobby and they present their PIV card to the security officer, the PIV is placed into a smart card reader. The visitor then enters the card’s PIN on a pin pad and if it matches the PIN encoded on the PIV card the cardholder is prompted to match their fingerprint biometrically. After a match, the system checks the PIV card’s digital certificate against the certificate authority revocation list to ensure the card is not revoked.

“FEMA is one of the few government agencies that has standardized its access control system and is using the full electronic capabilities of its PIV credentials,” adds Geri Castaldo, CEO of Codebench, a middleware software provider of HSPD-12 and FIPS-201 compliant solutions. “Becoming HSPD-12 and OMB M-11-11 compliant doesn’t have to be a daunting process and FEMA is an example of a success story.”

About the contributor: Bob Fontana is president and CTO of Codebench.