Subscribe to On the Editor's Desk RSS Feed

On the Editor's Desk

by: Martha Entwistle - Tuesday, February 26, 2008
TechSec Solutions, the conference I program with Security Director News editor Rhianna Daniels, got started in earnest today with keynote speaker David Bunzel, managing director of Santa Clara Consulting, an analyst group that started in the data storage industry and has moved over to cover the security space. His message, that the security industry needs to embrace standards in order to move forward both in overall market size and in the complexity of solutions, was often repeated throughout a great first day of educational programming. You'll see in the video below the main gist of the day, but one thing you won't see is one of the best panels I've seen at TechSec: The True Cost of Ownership panel led by Paul Smith, which broke down, with actual numbers generated by Clark Harbaugh, an account manager for Systems Group, for a variety of job sizes and types. Basically, analog and IP are now neck and neck in terms of initial cost, was the general conclusion, and IP offers major upside in terms of features and capability. And, if you factor in the cost of moving an operations center in the five years of owning a system, Harbaugh concluded IP could save an end user nearly $1 million. I'd love to hear what you guys think of that.
by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, February 25, 2008
Today begins the fourth annual TechSec Solutions, the great conference with the bad name. I can make fun of it because I, along with Rhianna Daniels over at Security Director News, program it, evaluating more than a hundred presentations to select the 10 (or so) best educational offerings for our attendees - end users, IT professionals, integrators and the like. This year it's again at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, where it will be again next year. It's mostly because of the Dallas airport's many direct connections that we stay here, but in truth there are a number of great security companies in the area, both integrators and manufacturers. Plus, I get to make a side-trip to Austin every year beforehand, which keeps me happy. Ever heard the South Austin Jug Band? Damn, they're hot. Anyway, starting tomorrow, you'll get a couple days of from-the-show updates, which should include video, assuming all the systems we have in place work right. Let me know if there's anything in particular you want me to summarize, via the comments link right down below this post (see it? You can click on it, you know. It won't hurt). Tonight it's just a meet-and-greet boozefest, but I'm sure I'll have lots to report.
by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, February 25, 2008
Tonight the exhibitors loaded in, getting their booths ready for tomorrow. It was a fun time, with a lot of vendors collaborating on how they wanted to present together and show the integrators and end users how interoperability can really work. IQinVision, for instance, had at least four companies swing buy to ask for cameras to display in their booths. I guess there's a reason they moved into much larger headquarters. Tomorrow, Dave Bunzel leads off with a keynote address on standards for the industry, and we'll have a number of great panels. I'll give you all the details I can between networking events, etc. Stay posted.
by: Martha Entwistle - Friday, February 22, 2008
Though this story is largely about manned guarding and doesn't have much to do with what my readers encounter on a daily basis, there are some issues to ponder here that I think resonate throughout the security industry. The gist is that the town of Flint has chosen Securitas as the guarding firm for its transportation authority over a local firm that's already been providing services, based solely on the lowest-bid criteria imposed upon it by federal mandates (but which the town actually ignored when it awarded the contract two years ago - we'll get to that). First of all: This is security we're talking about! Is this really an area where lowest-bid should rule? I'm thinking perceived competence should reign supreme here. But, we're told: Both companies ranked similarly in an MTA analysis of their abilities and experience, but Securitas had the lower costs. It submitted a bid for services set at about $415,000 compared to Teachout's $449,000 bid. So, assuming it's true that these companies would do equally well protecting the citizens of Flint, we're talking about $34,000 a year in difference. I agree that's significant (half a city clerk, say). But how is that savings realized? Well, through Securitas paying its workers less. Here's the breakdown: Securitas: $14.76 an hour for on-site supervisors, $11.91 for guards. Teachout Security Services: $16.14 an hour for on-site supervisors and $12.66 for guards in the first year with a 3 percent pay raise in the second year. The Securitas supervisor pulls down $30,700, Teachout's supervisor gets $33,571 annually. That seems a little low to me, but I guess I can see why someone would want that job. The standard guard for Securitas, however, would garner just $24,772 annually, vs. $26,332 for the local guy. Those are barely above the federal government's family-of-four poverty guidelines for 2008. The important thing to remember here is that all of these guards will be living in Flint (or surrounding areas). So when I hear a quote like this: "We can't do this based just on the fact that this is a local firm," Foy said. "It all comes down to trying to get the absolute most for the people of this community with the money we have available." Because MTA receives government dollars, it must follow federal guidelines for awarding contracts by hiring the lowest qualified bidder, Foy said. I wonder, Isn't it possible that the way to get the most for the people of Flint is to get them better paying jobs? Isn't it possible that security guards who aren't wondering quite as much where their next meal is coming from might be better at protecting people? Add those two motivators together, and I think a $34,000 difference is pretty negligible. Quite simply, I think there are many more factors that need to be considered here beyond price, but it's easy to understand why so many security vendors and installers compete on price. It's obviously a reality for government work. Maybe some lobbying needs to be done to exempt security specification from some federal guidelines? I understand protecting the taxpayer from graft and fraud, but shouldn't we also consider actually protecting the taxpayer from bodily harm? Or, maybe city officials should just ignore federal mandates in the first place: But in 2006, MTA handed the security contract to Teachout after four other companies, including Securitas, submitted lower bids.
by: Martha Entwistle - Thursday, February 21, 2008
Hopefully you saw the newswire story on RSI Alarm's push to bring the copper theft epidemic to the consciousness of the security industry, through a new web site and other means. It's something we've covered in ancillary terms here and here and here, but Keith Jentoft, RSI president, may be right that people aren't making it a big enough piece of their security solutions for customers. What's crazy is that it's not just commercial sites that are getting hit; people are grabbing residential HVAC units off their rooftops and throwing them in pickups and driving away. Or their pulling the electrical wire off of people's houses. Check out this video sent in by an RSI dealer. They thief is pretty brazen, no? Whether it's sensors on HVAC units or video verification tied to motion detection or simply hardened HVAC units, integrators and residential installers need to be delivering solutions to combat this now.
by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I've got to say, it's good to be back on American soil. Nothing against Israel, but it's not the most relaxing place to be, I'll say that. And things aren't getting any less tense. Looks like Israel is moving ahead with plans to clean out Gaza and end Hamas. I'm kind of glad that didn't happen last week while I was there. But I'm going to try to put Israeli happenings out of this blog's consciousness for a bit (I'll compile all of the Israel trip posts together and make them available in the sidebar at some point) and get back to the business of North American security integrators. For instance, did you see that Unisys has partnered with Aladdin to add IT-based identity management to its offerings? I think you'll start seeing a wave of integrators adding IT security offerings to their tool boxes. Last month, Aronson Security Group announced its convergence unit as part of its acquisition of Selectron, so it's not even just about the global integrators doing it. And here's an indication that we have a lot of work to do in the United States before people will really understand what security is all about. This story details a small college's struggle with concert security. I'm sure many colleges have such problems, but this quote from a professor I find very disturbing: Evergreen professor Peter Bohmer said he was concerned about the increasing reliance on police to control crowds. "I urge people not to cooperate with police," Bohmer said, to both applause and jeers. "I think we need to handle this among ourselves, instead of having a community of other people handle it." Wow. "A community of other people." So the police are not "us"? As long as common citizens see the police as "other" than them, we're going to have a security problem in the United States. One good sign? Amtrak seems to have finally gotten the message that they need to upgrade their security measures. Some of the increases included random baggage screening. This is only a good idea if it includes some kind of profiling effort. If their idea of random includes my daughter's Hello Kitty suitcase on wheels, it's a bad idea. If their idea of random includes searching bags of those people who are exhibiting suspicion indicators, maybe it can be effective.

by: Martha Entwistle - Friday, February 15, 2008

From Nazarenes to Bedouins

Unsurprisingly, the morning papers greeted us here with news that Hizbullah has officially declared war on Israel, though nothing seems to have actually changed in terms of attacks—or preparations on the part of the Israelis. They were already under the impression that they were at war. Maybe you didn’t see the footage, but more than a million people turned out to mourn Imad Mughniyeh in the streets of Lebanon, all of them screaming, “Death to Israel.” Regardless of your political persuasions, you have to admit that a demonstration of that kind might make you a bit uneasy if you were an Israeli citizen. [Edit: Note that Israel fights on a number of fronts at once. Here is just one story of the escalating fighting/airstrikes/missile launches in Gaza. There are no winners here. The Israelis suffered a rocket attack that hit a nursery school. They fired back, hitting a school and killing a teacher, since the rockets were launched from the school grounds. I was within five miles of those rocket attacks only two days ago.] Of course, on this last day of our trip here, we traveled up to the Golan Heights, that very strategic high ground in the north that was secured by the Israelis from Syria in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. Evidence of the war was all around us, with continuing mine fields and the decrepit hulls of the Syrian's Russian-made tanks left in place as reminders of the victory. There was evidence of progress, too, however, in the form of nearly endless fields of vineyards, where the best wine in all of Israel is made. Our tour guide, a local recruited for some sight-seeing information who actually fought in that war, noted that the Israelis have offered to show the Syrians how to use their old battlefields to make wine, but have thus far been rebuffed. I suppose it is easy for the victors to be so gracious. The Syrians would very much like to have their/Israel’s land back. Since much of the day was concerned with sight-seeing (the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus purportedly walked on water; St. Peter’s old residence, etc.), it’s probably best to just show you the video and then compile here some of my observations for the past week, as I leave on a plane back to the United States tomorrow. Fundamentally, there are some operations tactics and guiding philosophies that the Israelis use that can and should be implemented in private security throughout the United States. Maybe they wouldn’t have prevented the Northern Illinois shooting in the United States, as it’s unclear that a country as large and diverse as the U.S. could ever implement the kind of security they have here, but I think it’s likely that there would be fewer incidents of large-scale violence. Note in the story I'm linking to that they say there were "no red flags." Well, I can assure you there were red flags as he approached the building. Had there been posted guards, no way it happens. The question is whether we could ever have posted guards everywhere on a university grounds. It's highly unlikely. But how did no other student notice him coming in with three handguns and a shotgun? • Circles of security: The Israelis organize their security in concentric circles, as anyone who has been following this blog by now well knows. The reason they don’t have through-put problems at their malls, airports, bus stations, train stations, etc., where they have tighter security than anywhere but some American airports, is that they start screening people far earlier in the process. They screen cars 100 meters or more from the building. They have guards 20 meters away watching people walk in. They have metal detectors outside the doors. By the time you enter the building, you’ve been screened or profiled a number of times and you can basically get to where you want to go quite quickly. • Profiling: We in America need to stop wasting time on people who are clearly not threats. I know it’s considered prudent to expect that anyone could be a terrorist, but if guards are well-trained in looking for suspicion indicators, I think it’s safe to start letting my four-year-old daughter go through the metal detector without taking her shoes off. Let’s be bold enough to say that NOT anyone could be a terrorist. Let’s know in our hearts that my grandmother is not going to blow up a plane. And let me reiterate that profiling has nothing to do with race. Here, the Israelis and the Palestinians are the same race, so race is clearly not necessary as a suspicion indicator. Profiling is about the method of operation and looking for the likely behaviors that would be evidenced by someone looking to do others harm. • Empowering even the lowest member of the organization to make decisions and be decisive: Here, they quite simply expect more of their average security guard than we do. Let’s expect more of ourselves. Let’s train our guards with meaningful seminars on how to spot bad guys and how to manage dangerous situations. Let’s do away with the joke that the TSA is just “welfare in a uniform.” Let’s both respect our security guards and teach them to respect themselves, so that when people come through a security line at the airport they don’t sense that everyone’s just going through the motions. In the military, I’ve been told that the new saying is, “every solider is a sensor.” Let’s make every security guard a sensor. • Using technology for its proper purpose: The Israelis use plenty of very high-end technology, some of which I’m not allowed to outline on a public blog. However, they understand that’s it’s never meant to replace people. For you, the security installers and integrators who are my readers, you’ve got to make sure that your sales people aren’t out there preaching a message of replacement, but one of augmentation. Stay with the mantra that technology can be a force multiplier. That’s true, and if your sales people don’t overpromise, you won’t underperform. • Making security everyone’s obligation: Here in Israel, we’ve seen countless stories of ordinary citizens playing vital roles in stopping suicide bombers. We watched a video at the Jerusalem police station where an ordinary citizen noticed a suspicious guy with a back-pack, jumped out of his car at an intersection, ran up to a police car, pointed at the guy and yelled, “that’s a suicide bomber.” The cop chased him down and prevented him from getting near a crowded shopping mall. Would that happen in the United States? Maybe yes, maybe no. We need to ask more, and expect more, of everyone in our organizations when it comes to security. This is a message security companies need to be preaching to the end users, and end users need to be preaching to their companies as a whole. What more evidence do we need that security is a real concern no matter where you are? Did the shoppers in the Omaha mall expect they’d be gunned down? No, I’m sure they all thought that nothing could happen there. Did the Northern Illinois students walk to class worrying about being killed by gunfire? Of course not. We need to start asking ourselves how these guys are getting so far along without anyone raising questions about them. The Virginia Tech shooter should have been identified long before he acted, by anyone in his college community who cared about the people living around them. Let’s make it okay again to be a little nosey. Along the way, we might even develop a meaningful sense of community that can be translated into recycling, energy-use, and business-efficiency purposes. Let’s rat some people out. • Red teaming, or testing: At the Rambam hospital, security is tested in various ways seven times a day. At the bus station, at least one test happens every shift. At Ben Gurion, they not only test a number of times a day, but they have a running preparedness score that they track via software. And these aren’t pre-packaged drills. They’re honest undercover efforts to breach security. If they succeed, they try to figure out why. If they fail, they are happy. They mostly fail to get contraband in. But when they succeed, it’s not a scandal, it’s a learning opportunity. We need to test our security systems much more often. This is certainly a service that systems integrators could offer on a continuing basis, and it would be a valued one, in my opinion. Not only could you consult with a company beforehand, design a system with their needs in mind, and install something that could multiply their security forces, but you could also service the system after the fact and act as a tester post-installation. That’s RMR and it’s a service that’s not currently be provided by anyone I know of. • Trusting the young: Here, security is largely handled by students, who’ve just graduated from their military service. It’s a part-time job, but they do it well and with honor. Why do all of our students work at Starbucks and Domino’s and not as security guards? Let’s get bright minds and able bodies serving the public good. Let’s get ROTC members working as security guards at the mall and the airport and the hospital. We trust our young people to serve as our soldiers overseas, but we don’t ask enough of them on the home front. Some of these things cost money, it’s true. But many of them are simply a shifting of attention, a change of attitude, and an elimination of cynicism. We can do better, and we have both a model for it and an obligation to it. As members of the security industry, it’s up to you to make it happen. Finally, thanks for reading this week’s posts from Israel. I’ll return to my normal snarky self next week, I’m sure, but please let’s continue some of these conversations when we see each other at the shows and when we talk on the phone. Our next opportunity? TechSec. I’ll see you there.
by: Martha Entwistle - Thursday, February 14, 2008
Well, I have to admit that I was mildly troubled by the morning paper today. As you might imagine, Hizbullah (it looks like they spell it with an "i" and a "u" here; not sure if that's universal, but I'm guessing the Israelis are the most acquainted with them) is not overly thrilled about their second in command getting blown up yesterday. Hizbullah legislator Ismail Sukeyir said, "Hizbullah has the right to retaliate anywhere in the world and in any way it sees fit." And where did we go today? That's right, north to Haifa, which lies just 50km south of Lebanon and was attacked by rockets daily during the Lebanese war in 2006, in which Hizbullah played a large role. In the end, today was indeed action-packed, but only because of our dialed-in tour leaders, and not because of any kind of immediate retaliation. The video should be attractive for those of you with military and law-enforcement backgrounds today: You saw there Yaron Klein, manager of security for Haifa Port, which is actually four private ports collected into one government-company-run port for the purposes of security. As with every security manager we've spoken with here, Klein uses the concepts of security rings and profiling to secure his facility, but he has the added burden, like many ports back home in the United States, of trying to figure out what's in the 2,200 containers that flow in and out of his facility every day. It's a nearly impossible job. Because of an attack that almost succeeded just recently, Klein's 350 guards open every empty container and use a laser sighting tool to make sure that each container interior measures either 20 or 40 feet. Why? Because two terrorists hid in an empty container with a false back wall. When they got inside the port of Ashud, down the coast, they cut their way out and then killed themselves with a suicide bomb, trying to blow up chemical materials but failing. For all other containers, Klein must rely on imaging technology and the trustworthiness of the seals on the containers, which are verified by all shippers via email before they are allowed to pass through the gates. Klein is constantly profiling the containers: do they have holes, did they come from a new shipping company or a sketchy foreign port, did the captain sound funny on the radio? And, of course, Haifa Port must screen the thousands of passengers that come through in a similar manner to the way that Ben Gurion screens its passengers. It's still not enough, however. Haifa Port is embarking on a $222 million shekel (roughly $70 million) security upgrade that will be completed in 2013. The port is growing and accommodations need to be made in order to keep up with the traffic. A quick uptick in traffic was at the heart of Dr. Moshe Michaelson's presentation at Rambam Health Care Campus, which has the largest trauma unit in the north of Israel and was literally under fire during the 2006 war with Lebanon. Not only did the center treat many of the soldier casualties, but Kotusha rockets were raining down into Haifa all around the hospital, thus bringing in many civilian casualties and forcing the hospital to set up an underground trauma center in the basement, lest the doctors and nurses treating the casualties become casualties themselves. I won't go into too many details of their mass casualty planning, as it doesn't apply to many of you, my readers, but they did offer one lesson that I think any flexible organization must apply: Strict rules need to be replaced with a mechanism for quick decision making. People must be empowered to be predictive, constantly imagining the worst case as a situation develops, and they must be allowed to create new procedures on the fly. Planning is important, but so it realizing when you had a bad or inadequate plan. They also emphasized the importance of training and "red-teaming" (testing), much like their security counterparts. The hospital runs some kind of trauma-related or security-related test 7 times a day (yes, a day). Dr. Michaelson has participated in such testing in the United States and said we are lacking a sense of reality in those tests: "You Americans put red shirts on critical patients and green shirts on non-critical patients and then tell people to practice triage. This is only practice if you are color-blind." Well, I'm not color-blind, but my ears are definitely ringing after the second half of the day's activities: A visit to the center where Israeli security guards and military special forces are trained. Again, I'm not going to go into much detail, as most of you don't often take on hostage situations, but suffice it to say that the Israelis practice their hostage situations as well as their mass-casualty situations. One thing you didn't see in the video? I played the role of a hostage-taker in a Munich-style apartment, then watched two soldiers repel into the window and shoot me in the face with guns firing very loud blanks. I jumped about five feet in the air. The trade show that followed was mostly full of products that are more military and guard oriented, like weapons and VIP protection training and tools, but these companies seemed like they might make good dealer partners: Elkat, which sells a number of solutions, but looked most interesting for its voice analyzer, allowing you to sell lie-detection as a service. That might come in handy. Green Vision Systems, which uses cameras to detect minute particles in the air and act like a sniffer. If you're working with any large building with a ventilation system, these guys could give you a nice way to prevent airborne agents from causing havoc. So, what do we do for more action tomorrow? We'll be heading to the Golan Heights and the Syrian border. The good news is that you'll get to see video of tanks!

by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Before I get into what was a very busy day visiting Ben Gurion Airport, the Azrieli Center (three skyscrapers attached to a large mall), and Israel Railways operations, I wonder if you took note of this story: Hezbollah intelligence chief Imad Mughniyeh was killed with a car bomb in Damascus, Syria (not far from here in Tel Aviv). The Israelis haven't gone so far as to take credit, but I can tell you that no one here is playing violins for him either. It may sound callous, but one of our hosts described the bombing this way: "He took a long flight, without a boarding pass." Of course, Avi was a member of the Israeli Army and fought Hezbollah directly, so you can imagine that he has no love for one of its leaders. The Israelis are not below counter-acts of terrorism, certainly. I asked Amotz, another of our tour leaders, today if it was offensive for me to say that Menachim Begin was a terrorist (you may not know that the former prime minister here began his career as a leader of the Israeli resistance against Great Britain, which would not allow immigrants to come to Israel following the end of WW 2; he quite famously blew up part of the King David Hotel, which was serving at the time as the British army HQ, and where we stayed earlier this week). Amotz said no, he agreed, Begin was a terrorist. He said there are still Israeli terrorists. There are American terrorists. He said the difference is that Israel and the United States make an active effort to keep terrorists within their borders from acting in that fashion, while the leaders of the Palestinians, Hezbollah and Hamas, encourage such acts. What about Mughniyeh's killing? Was that terrorism, counter-terrorism, an act of war? It's unclear, really. We live in a time, I would argue, when old terminology doesn't apply well. I can tell you, however, that terminology isn't particularly important to the heads of security at Ben Gurion, Azrieli, and the rail system. They simply know that people are repeatedly trying to kill their customers and are doing everything possible to both protect those customers and make sure they continue to have customers. As Nahum Liss, technically the head of planning, control and projects at Ben Gurion, put it: "You can have 100 percent security, but then you have zero percent aviation activity." Sadim, the chief security officer at Azrieli, noted, however, that while private security is "a big headache for the client," the customers coming to the mall expect and appreciate the security measures. One customer, he said, asked to speak to him personally, recently, only to say that he had surveyed his security measures and approved of them. "This is the only mall I'll shop in," he reportedly told Sadim. While the three operations all use varying levels of technology, it's clear from their presentations (and from this week's presentations in general) that all three value people and policies much more highly. "We're always upgrading our technology," Sadim said, "we're always looking for ways to do our job better, but technology is just a tool. It can't replace people." This echoed our training from earlier in the week, given by Amotz, if you'll remember, and the sentiment of the Sergeant at Arms of the Knesset. Security, they said is about profiling methods of operation, and has three steps: Detect, Determine, Deploy. The technology can only help with the detecting part. It can't think, or ask questions, and it can't make the decision to deploy (or shouldn't). That said, the all three locations had some pretty cool technology, especially Ben Gurion. But, here, watch the video first (sorry that I seem to be confused as to whether this is my fourth or fifth day here - the time change is messing with me): It has 2,300 security employees to serve its 10.1 million annual passengers, and they use all manner of profiling techniques along with the universal concept here of "security circles." The first circle is the Israeli intelligence operation, the second is the fence line: Ben Gurion is the only airport in the world that has a fence around all public areas. There are only two gates through which to enter, and everyone entering is spoken with and profiled. Those who show suspicion indicators are questioned further, and those who have suspicions that can't be refuted are searched. This can take up to an hour. Do not make jokes at the gates to Ben Gurion. And keep the heater down. You don't want to be sweating. Then the circles move in as you might imagine, with such measures as $3,000 blast-proof trash cans and very-armed guards patrolling everywhere. We were told to try to spot the snipers, but I'm not sure if they were kidding or not. I didn't see any, but I'm guessing I wouldn't. Then they have all manner of CT-scan, X-ray, video analytic, license plate recognition, bollards, and more than 700 cameras throughout the airport and airfield. Their access control system for employees involves a prox card tied to a biometric, very similar to HSPD-12/FIPS 201. And, you guessed it, they're about to implement shoe-screening technology, so you won't have to take your shoes off. Hopefully, they export that to the United States quickly. As everywhere in Israel, and I've mentioned before, virtually all of the security guards here and at the other two sites, are young, no more than 25. They are students, working part-time as they study (they've already been in the military), and they are good at what they do. While you'll see them joking around from time to time, and their silly photos lining break-room walls, they are also decisive, attentive, and they catch things all the time. When they are "red-teamed," meaning tested, they mostly pass, we're told. One of the coolest things Liss had in place at Ben Gurion was software that gave him a quick representation of his preparedness for an attack. All employees, and the technology, are graded constantly for effectiveness. If a guard doesn't pass a test, he or she doesn't work the next day. It's that simple. They are given more training to get their numbers up. Today the facility's number was an 89. Because it was clear that Liss had no tolerance for failure, this seemed like a high, and encouraging, number. There is no doubt, as Liss said, that Ben Gurion is the safest airport in the world. I asked him if he felt unsafe when he traveled through the other airports of the world. "You're an American?" he asked immediately. He laughed. He had been asked last year to evaluate the efforts at LAX and Denver. He thought their front doors were well secured he said, but "the back doors of most American airports are wide open." He felt the perimeters were less than secure and that we needed to secure them, "but that's not an easy thing to do." He also felt we needed to develop our own profiling system and that we needed to get higher quality guards. "Employees are paid much better here," he said, "and the quality is much better." He also spends $60 million a year on security. Sadim spends about $2 million to protect his 45,000 daily visitors each year. He's got 250 cameras, uses prox cards for employees, and also has a conversation with every car that comes to park in his parking garage. His system, like all private security measures, must meet a minimum standard established by the police. He had to apply for a permit before the business could open to the public, and that permit must be renewed each year. Can you imagine that in the United States? I wouldn't hesitate to guess that the Maine Mall would resist such permitting strenuously. Many of us noted, however, that it likely thinks nothing of making sure its fire system is up to code. How many people have died in mall fires? I'm guessing none in the past 25 years. How many people have died in attacks on malls? Unfortunately, we know that number has increased recently. That gunman wouldn't have sniffed the front door here. Speaking of sniffing, we got a demonstration of the effectiveness of the Railways' K-9 unit as part of the day's last presentation. Cute dog. He could probably use some My Good Dog toys (sorry, couldn't help a plug for my old man's business - the rules are looser here on the blog, right?). Yosi, head of security for the Railways, maybe gave the biggest endorsement to his technology efforts; he's about to embark on a campaign to use a camera to cover every meter of the 900 km of rail line he's responsible for (and another 500 km of line is going to be added over the next four years or so). Do the math there. He showed us a demonstration of what the system can do, as it identified a fake terrorist as he walked into a tunnel and placed a bag on the tracks using video analytics, and then the command center contacted patrol guards in the field, who were able to quickly arrive on the scene, and the train operators, who were able to keep their cars from entering the tunnel. He also showed us video of the most recent bombing attempt thwarted: Just last month, five men were apprehended with the detonator for a bomb that had already been placed on the side of some tracks. They intended to move the bomb to the tracks and detonate it when a trail came across it. The Israeli intelligence services won this time. In five other cases, they won as well. Another time, a guard was killed in stopping a suicide bomber before he reached a station. We saw a video that showed how far the head of the bomber was shot up into the sky when he detonated. Gruesome. Another video showed us a 14-year-old boy who was apprehended with a bomb strapped to his chest, sent in by Hezbollah. You can see, maybe, why today's car bomb in Damascus wasn't something these people were overly concerned about.
by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, February 13, 2008
So I lied a bit in my last post. I was under the impression we were attending dinner last night at the ambassador's house. Apparently, he was busy. Instead, we attended a reception at the Deputy Chief's house (he's the second in command). It was a very nice affair, with lots of diplomats who are very good at making small talk. The Deputy's name is Luis Moreno and you can see here that we've become fast friends. Deputy Moreno gave a nice short talk on the embassy's support of a two-state solution, and emphasized his security background, noting that his embassy is one of only four in the world that employ a full-time security staff and don't just hire a local private firm to do security. Speaking with some of the local consulate members (people who give the thumbs up or down to visa applications, for example), I found that they very much enjoy it here, but are asked to obey some simple security rules. They can't ride the bus or train, and there are a few cities they're asked not visit. They can't go into the Old City after dark. In terms of industry types, perhaps the most relevant person I met was Guy Zuri, the business development manager for security, safety and Homeland Security at the Israeli Export & International Cooperation Institute. He works with the likes of NICE, Verint, Mate, and other Israeli firms, looking to export Israeli technology to the rest of the world. He'll be hosting a technology demonstration/mini trade show for us on Thursday. He's a good salesman, too. By the end of the reception, he had convinced the Deputy to attend.