Can I get an analytics salesman on the phone?

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03/14/2008
I'm sure everybody's heard about the most recent troubles at Heathrow airport, including yesterday's event, where a man scaled a fence and waltzed onto the runway before being challenged and then arrested. Where, oh where, is the security industry in all of this? The mainstream media and government officials are being allowed to spout all manner of wrongness and no one in the security industry is being interviewed or offering their two cents. This is the perfect time, whether you're in Europe or in Kansas, to offer up guest editorials or offer yourselves as technology and systems experts. Just look at this bit: Gordon Brown, the prime minister, said he was satisfied everything was being done to ensure security at Heathrow. Speaking after arriving at an EU summit in Brussels, he said: "I think the important thing about the Heathrow incident is that the person was detained, that all the security precautions went quickly into action ... and that all possible steps were taken so that when this incident happened the arrest took place. And I'm satisfied everything is now being done to ensure security at Heathrow is intact. We are determined to protect all passengers and all staff who go through Heathrow and every other airport in the country." What? Is this guy on crack? A man was allowed to walk right under a passenger airplane carrying a backpack! Hey, England, you got lucky. All possible steps were not taken in any way, shape, or form. There are some very inexpensive (relatively) solutions that would have alerted you the moment somebody started climbing the fence. Remember when I wrote about Optellios at ASIS? Heathrow just opened a $8.6 billion terminal. They couldn't pony up a bit more for some fiberoptic cable and some software to make sure their perimeter was secure? Or how about some off-the-shelf perimeter analytics? Anybody can do fenceline nowadays. There would have been buzzers going off like no tomorrow in the central command center at Heathrow as soon as that guy got within 10 feet of the fence and he never would have made the tarmac. I have major reservations about the people in charge of aviation security in England after reading the following: The former head of security at BAA, Norman Shanks, said a higher fence would not prevent further incursions and a serious clampdown on intruders would require sophisticated motion-sensor technology. A number of systems are available or under development, including CCTV technology that detects irregular movement. However, such a move would increase the cost of a Heathrow security bill that has risen by tens of millions of pounds since the liquid bombs scare in 2006. The perimeter at Heathrow is jointly patrolled by BAA security staff and the Metropolitan police. One aviation expert said it had not changed since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States which showed al-Qaida's continued fascination with attacking aviation. A BAA spokesman said: "If there are lessons to be learned, they will be learned." A higher fence? Seriously? "Sophisticated motion-sensor technology"? What's wrong with that? You just spent $8.6 billion! There's wasn't $1,000,000 (and that's just an arbitrary large number - no way it would have cost that much) for some perimeter security? "CCTV technology that detects irregular movement"? Seriously, the security industry needs to be out there educating the general population about what's available. If the mainstream public knew about the technologies, and their relative affordability, they would not stand for a perimeter system at the largest airport in England going un-upgraded since 2001. That's borderline criminal.