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It’s Time to Improve ASIS

By Jon Daum

October 7, 2015

Attendance – or lack of it – at last week’s 2015 ASIS show in Anaheim, Calif. has led to serious grumbling among manufacturers, integrators, end users and industry media. Exhibitors and attendees – including many interviewed by Security Update – blamed the location, the dates and competition from other shows – as the reason attendance appeared to be its lowest in years.

Several long-term ASIS show veterans estimate the crowds in the three-day exhibit hall at somewhere between 15,000-18,000 – down considerably from 5-10 years ago when the show routinely drew 20,000+. The attendance this year may never be publicly known as ASIS no longer offers audited numbers.

But even a decrease of 10 percent in attendance can significantly reducing exhibitor’s return on investment. Manufacturers and integrators pay tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for booth rentals and the travel cost of employees to man to booths. Also, add more for the give-aways and events to attract current and potential customers.

The chief competition to ASIS, ISC West, continues to maintain attendance with its annual spring show in Las Vegas. Are there some lessons ASIS can learn from ISC?

Location – ISC is held each year in Las Vegas, a city easily reachable from just about anywhere in the U.S. and many foreign countries. Like it or not, Las Vegas is a major destination site. The city offers adequate convention hall space and many modern hotels, good restaurants and after-show entertainment typically within walking distance or a short cab ride.

ASIS chooses to move its show about the country. Over the past 10 years ASIS cities include Chicago, Orlando, Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta and this year’s choice, Anaheim. Many 2015 attendees flew into Los Angeles International for its lower fares, only to find the one-way cab ride to the Anaheim Convention Center could top $100. Some choose to rent a car and brave the notorious SoCal traffic. An alternative to LAX was available in John Wayne International, located 14 miles from Anaheim. But several people told Security Update cross-country fares into the airport ranged between $200 to $300 higher than those into Los Angeles.

Some exhibitors complained the cost and time to get to Anaheim dissuaded many potential East Coast and Midwest attendees from making the trip.

Show Days

ASIS continues to hold firm to a Monday-Wednesday exhibit hall schedule, requiring exhibitors to give up an entire weekend to arrive for booth setup. Even attendees have to travel on Sunday to arrive for the first day of the show. Most people in this industry (as in others) dislike losing typical days off.

ISC goes with a Tuesday-Thursday or Wednesday-Friday schedule that reduces the need for weekend travel.

Calendar

Each year, manufacturers are anxious to showcase new products to boost sales. ISC with its late-March, early-April shows provides a ideal time for launches. As one industry editor told Security Update, “by the end of September, ASIS is getting the products that couldn’t be finished in time for ISC. The really cool stuff made a splash months earlier.”

Doing Business

Several exhibitors also said the ISC West sponsors are much easier to do business with than the ASIS show representatives. Complaints about ASIS ranged from the booth selection process to times allowed for setup.

So is there still room for ASIS – or any trade show – to still succeed? Yes, but all shows face increasing competition from the Internet, which allows manufacturers to make announcements, sponsor webinars, post white papers and other activities to show off new products – without the need for travel costs.

Yet trade show still provide a venue for exhibitors to meet face-to-face with customers, partners, the media – even members of their own far-flung organizations. Attendees get to “kick the tires” on the new products and easily compare offerings from different providers. Everyone gets to network. And most shows provide excellent educational opportunities.

Solutions

But for ASIS to regain its former place within the industry, the organization needs to make some changes. Most of them are so obvious, it’s hard to believe they weren’t implemented years ago.

If ASIS believes it needs to provide multiple show locations to meet geographical needs, at least pare them down to two. How about picking from Orlando, Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas and then rotating from year to year? These cities are easy to access and offer quality convention space, hotels and other amenities. Security Update heard from one ASIS insider that the organization is considering limiting future show cities to as many as five. That’s way too many.

Probably the easiest change is to open future ASIS shows on Tuesdays. That will reduce the need for weekend travel.

Changing from early falls show season might be more difficult. Going early in the year begs for winter travel delays. A spring show would compete directly with ISC and not provide exhibitors wanting to participate in both shows time to plan and execute a timely and cost effective experience. Summers would require a complete overhaul of vacation schedules. Later in the fall would only make the show more irrelevant. Moving the dates up a week or two may be the best ASIS can do.

A perception among some Anaheim attendees is the ASIS organization views itself as the one true industry voice. ASIS is, and will likely remain, a powerful industry representative. But the group’s leaders must accept there are others that also speak for a diverse group of manufacturers, integrators and users. Making the annual show more friendly toward exhibitors would reduce some of today’s complaints.

The security industry does benefit from choices when it comes to trade shows. But for ASIS to regain its place it needs to make some changes. In that area, ASIS is not alone. All industry shows must constantly re-evaluate their missions and practices. As travel and other costs continue to increase, exhibitors and attendees keep asking if the results justify the money spent.

(Jon Daum, co-editor of Security Update, has attended ASIS shows since 1995.)

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The Command Center: Moving Beyond the Traditional Security Model

By Cindy Weigle

August 12, 2015

They’re known as command centers, operation or ‘op’ centers, and fusion centers, but no matter what they’re called, many people believe they are the future of security. Security command centers come in all shapes and sizes with varying levels of service and sophistication. The general idea is to centralize and streamline operations.  In some cases that may mean simply serving as a centralized alarm and monitoring center. But in more complex versions it can mean combing technology and people to analyze collected data providing business leaders with intelligence and information that increases operational preparedness and provides value beyond security.

Scott Jones, director of corporate security for Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) in San Diego, recently gave a presentation on developing security command centers. In his position, he oversees the SNEI Command and Control Center (C3), security technology, emergency response and global intelligence. During his 10 years in the private sector he has worked with other large companies on command center development. He spoke before a group of security profession at the ASIS San Diego Chapter July luncheon focusing on his personal experience.

Not a new concept

Jones told his audience the concept of a command center is nothing new. They have been around for centuries dating back to ancient Rome. Amphitheaters used for the bloody games of the times also provided an excellent venue to view and keep track of the populace. And during the rise of the British Empire when it was conquering the globe they set up a center in London to pull all of the data into one centralized location to keep an eye on what was happening in distant lands.

“Times have changed, but what we are trying to do today is essentially the same thing,” said Jones. “We want to develop a centralized operational model that lets us make active intelligent decisions.”

Why the need for ops centers? According to Jones, security doesn’t have the luxury of shutting down at 5 p.m.

“You really have to have eyes on the situation 24/7 and the ops center can do that for you,” he said. “It can be the silent knight out there looking for what could happen, what’s next.”

In addition to a 24/7 presence Jones said command centers also provide a place to collect and process data.

“We live in a data-driven world and it’s just too much to keep track of,” he said. “A command center may offer you the ability to make sense of it all.”

Types of Command Centers

Command centers can take on a number of forms. The less sophisticated centers are more tactical and less strategic. A level one center might be based on the old risk management model of recovery and response. More mature models start to integrate technology and people analyzing events and data allowing the company to be more prepared, more proactive and able to operate more effectively.

Jones gave an example of how centers can move from tactical to strategic. If a facility experiences an increase in laptop thefts, or loss, on a tactical level it is reported and investigated typically on a localized level.  A more strategic approach would include the tracking of incidents, mapping the data, and using the visualization to analyze for patterns. A business might conclude that the spate of laptop theft is coming from a specific location which might result in security enhancements or even new employee awareness campaigns regarding the protection of corporate hardware (laptops) in vehicles.

“This is where you start to move out of a basic operations center model into a way of scaling into something more than a traditional physical security apparatus,” Jones said.

The 5 Cs

Jones had some advice for the audience from various lessons learned during work within a myriad of command center environments.   He put together what he calls “The 5 Cs” – things security professionals may want to keep in mind when trying to develop a command or ops center.

  • Collaboration – Ops center development must be a collaborative experience. Bring people into the discussion early rather than later.
  • Clarity – Have a clear voice. What is the vision? What are you trying to accomplish? What is the point of the command center?
  • Centralization –Most businesses operate in silos and are looking for the magic solution to bring everything together. An ops center is one opportunity to do just that.  Bring everything under one roof and start processing information to make sense out of it.
  • Costs – Have a budget in mind. Company leadership has to believe it’s a worthwhile investment. There is also a cost in terms of talent. Money has to be spent to get the right people. Also, remember to talk about the cost savings that will come from a well-functioning command center.
  • Consistency – It’s one thing to develop a command center. It’s another to sell it. Be consistent in telling the story. A really solid marketing socialization plan accompanying the command center helps. Be creative in your approach and branding.

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Espionage: The Security Professional’s Role in Counter-Intelligence

By Cindy Weigle

June 24, 2015

The term espionage invokes images of slick trench coat-clad spies with thick foreign accents sipping martinis in exotic locales while trying to save the world from sure destruction. It brings up images of James Bond, Mata Hari and Boris and Natasha, the hapless cartoon Soviet-era spies in the “Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.” In real life – especially today – it’s very different. Espionage is pervasive in our information-technology world taking place on the net with hackers and information thieves leading the charge. People are stealing more secrets than ever, but instead of photo copiers or microfilm their tools are the Internet and thumb drives. Instead of Hollywoodesque spies they are more often information geeks, disgruntled employees or those with strong ties to another country or culture.

U.S. law recognizes two type of espionage. The domestic stealing of trade secrets by a competitor or individuals and the theft of trade secrets or information backed by a foreign government or terrorists. Both are damaging with long-ranging consequences including huge financial and job costs and in some cases the loss of life. So, how do security professionals fit into this picture and what part can they play in this “Spy vs. Spy” scenario?

John F. Wagner, a 26-year veteran of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service recently spoke to a group of security professionals at ASIS International, San Diego Chapter. Wagner now works for defense contractor General Atomics, but his presentation covered information and strategies from his days with NCIS.

There are a number of ways to protect assets and people. Good physical security including guards, cameras and access control to provide the building block of facility security. These are excellent defensive measures, but according to Wagner, to protect our government and trade secrets we need to go beyond that. We need to be proactive in our approach and that’s where counter intelligences comes into the picture. And today’s security professional has an important role to play.

As Wagner reminded his audience, security professionals see things every day in the course of their jobs. Things that don’t add up or just seem off. It can be someone taking photos, loitering on the property or an employee working odd hours.

“As professionals we want to note and document those things, so that we can hand them off to our law enforcement colleagues in government,” said Wagner. “Then they can decide if there needs to be an investigation.”

Some of the counter intelligence activities that Wagner said fall to security professionals are simple. For example, knowing who is coming into a facility. If there are foreign visitors, simple background checks should be conducted. The same for foreign travel. Security professionals want to talk with people before they go overseas, give them an awareness briefing, let them know what to look for and where the red flags might be. That way returning travelers can report any issues and provide valuable information.

The more complicated subset of counter intelligence is insider threat, a prolific and growing problem, according to Wagner. During most of the Cold War the intelligence community looked at protecting sensitive information from outsiders.  Chelsea Manning of WikiLeaks fame and National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden put insider threats front and center.

“These are people who weren’t necessarily being run or handled by foreign intelligence services,” said Wagner. “But, the bottom line is that people on the inside have access to a lot of information.”

Wagner told his audience there are indicators for these threats – behaviors and action that can be identified. And, again, that’s where security personnel fits into the picture.

“If you see these indicators, it doesn’t mean that we have a spy, but it might give you pause to take a little closer look,” he said. “Sometimes it means you may need to have a conversation with human resources or someone’s supervisor.”

Here are some of the indicator Wagner discussed:

Foreign travel– This isn’t necessarily bad, but if someone has a top-secret clearance there are rules and regulations. If they are traveling to a foreign county they need to talk with their security director and be honest about where they are going.

Foreign preference – In some cases people have more allegiance to another county, maybe because they were born or stationed there.

Anti-American associations and activities – This happened with the Manning (WikiLeaks) case. One person came forward and noted the anti-American statements being made.

Falsifying or withholding personal problems – If someone with clearance is going through a bankruptcy or a messy divorce that information has to be divulged.

Personal behavior that increases vulnerability to exploitation – People aren’t recruited by accident. Other governments or individuals do a lot of background research and they are looking for weaknesses before they approach someone. So, if for example, someone is having an affair that could give them a way to blackmail someone into spying or stealing secrets.

Disgruntled employees – Security used to worry about people taking staples and office supplies. Now, there is a whole lot more damage they can do, so termination policies have to take that risk into account.

Working odd hours – Security has access to this information and can look to see what people are accessing at what hours.

Unauthorized devices – It just takes a USB device to download gigabytes of information. After the Manning case the DOD banned the use of USB devices.

No need to know – Many people have clearances, but that doesn’t mean they need to know about every project or activity. It is out of line for one co-worker to ask another about something classified if he/she doesn’t need to know about it.

Unnecessary or suspicious copying – This doesn’t happen as much anymore, but it should be noted.

Destroying classified documents without proper authority – This includes destroying documents or trying to remove or cover up classified markings.

Changes in behavior – There may be a valid reason for it such as substance abuse issues or a divorce, but this is a common indicator that should be noted

Wagner also emphasized to his audience that these behaviors were not only good indicators for espionage or information theft, but also for workplace violence.

“It’s not just about protecting information, it’s also about noting indicators for potential workplace violence,” he said. “We want to keep our people and property safe.”

(Cindy Weigle is a partner with Daum Weigle Inc. and an editor of the DW Security Update)

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Security Industry must embrace change

by Cindy Weigle

June 1, 2015

Security industry professionals and business owners must see the opportunities in a changing technology landscape and embrace those changes. That was the message from a diverse group of industry experts participating in a recent panel discussion at the San Diego Security Association’s May luncheon. The topic was “Re-Tooling and Future Proofing your Security Business ” – a timely subject in light of the rapid shift in the industry over the last couple of years. The growing “Do it Yourself” (DIY) movement and encroaching cable and telecommunication companies have altered the market and left many industry business people feeling vulnerable.

Four panelists gave their best advice to people looking to stay profitable and competitive in the throes of transformation.  They included Gavin Bortels, president of the Kepler Networks (data communication networks); Ted Marx, vice president of Network Video Technology (IP, analog and PoE video transmitters/receivers): Rick Downey, video surveillance expert at Spectra Logic (deep storage solutions) and Dario Santana, president of Layer3 Security Services (security integrators).

The group agreed there are disruptors touching the industry particularly in residential and small commercial security. DIY products and apps proliferate in the market and can be bought off the shelf with the promise of easy setup and monitoring. But as Bortels of Kepler Networks pointed out there are always going to be people who want to do it themselves until they try and realize the value of having professional installation and monitoring.

According to Bortels, data suggests that for decades penetration in the residential security market has remained 18 – 24 percent.

“So the fact that more people want to add cameras to their homes is going to help the security industry grow more than anything in the last 30 years,” he said. “People are going to need help and guess who is going to be there to help them?”

Santana of Layer3 said changes in commercial security are different from those in residential. He said rapid technology change will accelerate and continue. That means security professionals must keep up with those advances. He challenged the audience to continually look inward at what makes them different, what are their core competencies and how they can use them to take advantage of opportunities.

“Disruption and opportunity can be one in the same,” he said. “It is a threat, but it is also an opportunity for your business and making it even more profitable.”

Santana used the cable industry as an example, citing that at one time cable was in 90 percent of U.S. homes. Now, that number is closer to 50 percent, but cable companies are making more money than ever because they are selling other services like broadband.

“The industry was threatened and disrupted, but through segmentation and leveraging market strengths, it survived and profited,” he said. “That’s what we all have to do.”

During the panel discussion Rick Downey of Spectra Logic talked about the growing problem of video storage. He said that a 1-megapixel camera creates over 2 billion frames of video per day and when you multiply that by a client with 800 cameras — storing video for a year — it becomes a massive, unwieldy amount of data. But here is where the opportunity comes in, according to Downey. He said that commercial clients are desperate for help and they don’t know where to turn.

“If you can step up to the plate and take on the video surveillance side, you will literally have more clients then you can keep track of, because they don’t know what to do with this massive amount of data,” he said. “They don’t know how to handle it, store it or manage it.”

Ted Marx of NVT boiled down the advice from the panel.

“We need to start looking at how we can embrace change,” he said. “We need to embrace it before it embraces us.”

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Home Networking Protocols, Gateways, Platforms, Peer-to-Peer Approaches

Bill Zalud

May 13, 2015

(Bill Zalud is a contributing writer at Appliance Design Magazine and smartHOME/SDM Magazine as well as a contributing research writer with the Security Industry Association.)

Connected, intelligent home systems, home automation and home appliances will sooner or later be part of a total home area network (HAN) or gateway, platform, peer-to-peer approach or cloud service, which may also connect to outside players and services.

One big challenge, though, is that there are myriad means of communications, connections and sharing. There is no one solution that connects and provides the ability for everything and everyone to work together.

  • Utility to Home Energy Management
  • Home to Homeowner’s Standalone or Networked Energy Management
  • Home to Appliance Maker, Service Technicians, Utilities
  • Appliances to each other and a panel of tablet through HAN
  • Home Security: Intrusion, Fire, Video
  • Home Automation
  • Entertainment
  • Information Services
  • Home Healthcare, Medical Devices, Aging in Place

Here are some thumbnails of existing and emerging approaches. Due to source and industry changes, the list may not be complete nor up-to-date.

ZigBee
ZigBee is a specification for a suite of high level communication protocols using small, low-power digital radios based on the IEEE 802.15.4-2003 standard for low rate wireless personal area networks (PAN), such as wireless light switches with lamps, electrical meters with in-home-displays, consumer electronics equipment via short-range radio needing low rates of data transfer. The ZigBee Alliance is an open, non-profit association of members comprised of businesses, universities and government agencies. At www.zigbee.org.

Z-Wave
Z-Wave (from Sigma Designs) is a wireless communications protocol for home automation, specifically to remote control applications in residential and light commercial environments. The technology uses a low power RF radio embedded or retrofitted into home electronics devices and systems, such as lighting, home access control, entertainment systems and household appliances. The Z-Wave Alliance is an international consortium of manufacturers. At www.z-wavealliance.org

OpenADR
Aimed at energy management, demand response is a set of actions taken to reduce load when electric grid contingencies threaten supply-demand balance or market conditions occur that raise electricity costs. Automated demand response (ADR) consists of fully automated signaling from a utility, electrical independent system operators and regional transmission organizations (ISO/RTO) or another appropriate entity to provide automated connectivity to customer end-use control systems and strategies. OpenADR provides a foundation for interoperable information exchange to facilitate automated demand response. The OpenADR Alliance is comprised of industry stakeholders for demand response communication protocol. At www.openadr.org.

OpenHAN
The OpenHAN suite of standards for home area networks and home grids is promoted by the OpenAMI (automated meter reading) and UtilityAMI. Both efforts aim to standardize powerline networking interoperation from a utility point of view and ensure reliable communications co-extant with AC power outlets. Both utilities and vendors of home control have promoted such standards. The OpenHAN label usually denotes standards favored by the utilities and distinguished from the OpenADR standards that aim to ensure open access to customer electricity use data by service providers. At www.osgug.ucaiug.org.

HomePlug
HomePlug is a broad name for various powerline communications standards that support networking over existing home electrical wiring. Several different standards fall under the HomePlug umbrella. Some target broadband applications such as in-home distribution of TV, gaming and Internet content, while others focus on low power and extended operating temperatures for applications such as smart power meters and in-home communications between electric systems and appliances. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance owns the HomePlug trademark. At www.homeplug.org.

G.hn and HomeGrid
G.hn is the common name for a home network technology standard developed under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) and promoted by the HomeGrid Forum. It supports networking over powerlines, phonelines and coaxial cables with data rates up to 1 Gbit/s. At www.homegridforum.org.

IPv4 and 6 and IPSO Alliance
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6 with an installed base of a little over 4 percent in May 2014), to succeed IPv4, operates by transferring data in small packets that are independently routed across networks. Each data packet contains two numeric addresses that are the packet’s origin and destination devices. Since 1981, IPv4 has been the publicly used version of the Internet Protocol. IPv6 allows for vastly more numerical addresses, but switching from IPv4 to IPv6 is challenging. 6to4 is an Internet transition mechanism for migrating from IPv4 to IPv6, a system that allows IPv6 packets to be transmitted over an IPv4 network. The IPSO Alliance promotes IP for smart object communications. Smart objects are small computers with a sensor or actuator and a communication device, embedded in objects such as thermometers, car engines, light switches, appliances and machinery for applications such as home automation, building automation, smart cities, structural health management systems, smart grid and energy management. At www.ipso-alliance.org.

6LoWPAN
6LoWPAN is an acronym of IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks. The concept originated from the idea that “the Internet Protocol could and should be applied even to the smallest devices” and that low-power devices with limited processing capabilities should be able to participate in the Internet of Things. 6LoWPAN encapsulation and header compression mechanisms allow IPv6 packets to be sent to and received from over IEEE 802.15.4 based networks. IPv4 and IPv6 are the work horses for data delivery for local area networks, metropolitan area networks, and wide-area networks such as the Internet. Likewise, IEEE 802.15.4 devices provide sensing communication-ability in the wireless domain. At www.ietf.org.

Three-tier IP Gateways
There is architecture for internetworking between home automation networks and a TCP/IP based wide area network, such as the Internet. The architecture abstracts the functionality of any home network into a driver layer (tier one) and provides a common access layer (tier two) from any TCP/IP network application (tier three) to a local home automation network. Clients and application programs may transparently access services and resources on the home network and appliances connected to the home network may access resources and services on the TCP/IP network. At www. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.

Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi, a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, is within enabled devices such as a personal computer, video game console, smartphone, digital audio or video player or myriad home appliances. They connect to the Internet when within range of a wireless network connected to the Internet. The alliance has generally enforced its use to describe only a narrow range of connectivity technologies including wireless local area networks (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11 standards, device to device connectivity such as Wi-Fi Peer to Peer and a range of technologies that support PANs, local area network (LAN) and even wide area network (WAN) connections. At www.wi-fi.org.

Wi-Gig
The Wi-Gig specification enables high performance wireless data, display and audio applications that supplement the capabilities of today’s wireless LAN devices. Wi-Gig tri-band enabled devices, which operate in the 2.4, 5 and 60 GHz bands, deliver data transfer rates up to 7 Gbps, more than 10 times faster than the highest 802.11n rate while maintaining compatibility with existing Wi-Fi devices. Additionally, the technology was designed to support a multitude of applications on both low power and high performance devices, including consumer electronics, PCs, handheld devices, streaming video and home networking equipment. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance adopter members develop wireless products that use the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum. At www.wirelessgigabitalliance.org.

WiMAX and WiMAX Advanced
WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a telecommunications protocol that provides fixed and mobile Internet access. The current WiMAX revision provides up to 40 Mbits with the IEEE 802.16m update expected to offer up to 1 Gbits fixed speeds. The name WiMAX was created by the WiMAX Forum, which describes it as “a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL.” At www.wimaxforum.org.

4G LTE
In telecommunications, 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. It is a successor to the 3G and 2G families. 4G LTE and WiMAX are moving to meet standards as set through ITU-R IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements for 4G standards, setting peak speed requirements for 4G service. See IMT-Advanced elsewhere in this sidebar. A 4G system is expected to provide a comprehensive and secure all-IP based mobile broadband solution to laptop computer wireless modems, smartphones and other mobile devices. Facilities such as ultra-broadband Internet access, IP telephony, gaming services and streamed multimedia may be provided to users.

IMT-Advanced
International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced (IMT-Advanced) systems are mobile systems that include the new capabilities of IMT that go beyond those of IMT-2000. Such systems provide access to a wide range of telecommunication services including advanced mobile services, supported by mobile and fixed networks, which are increasingly packet-based.

IMT-Advanced systems support low to high mobility applications and a wide range of data rates in accordance with user and service demands in multiple user environments. IMT Advanced also has capabilities for high quality multimedia applications within a wide range of services and platforms, providing a significant improvement in performance and quality of service. At www.itu.int.

UPnP
Universal plug and play (UPnP) is a set of networking protocols (in a peer-to-peer approach) for primarily residential networks without enterprise class devices that permits networked devices, such as personal computers, printers, Internet gateways, Wi-Fi access points and mobile devices to seamlessly discover each other’s presence and establish functional network services for data sharing, communications and entertainment. It is promoted by the UPnP Forum. At www.upnp.org.

Bluetooth
Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short wavelength radio transmissions) from fixed and mobile devices, creating PANs with high levels of security. Created by Ericsson, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization. It is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, with member companies in telecommunication, computing, networking and consumer electronics. At www.bluetooth.org.

Bluetooth Low Energy
Bluetooth low energy or Bluetooth LE or BLE, marketed as Bluetooth Smart, is a wireless personal area network technology designed and marketed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group aimed at applications in the healthcare, fitness, security, smart home and home entertainment industries. Compared to Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart is intended to provide considerably reduced power consumption and cost while maintaining a similar communication range. Bluetooth Smart was originally introduced under the name Wibree by Nokia in 2006. It was merged into the main Bluetooth standard in 2010 with the adoption of the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0. Mobile operating systems including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, as well as OS X, Linux and Windows 8, natively support Bluetooth Smart. The Bluetooth SIG predicts more than 90 percent of Bluetooth-enabled smartphones will support Bluetooth Smart by 2018. At www.bluetooth.org.

LonWorks
LonWorks is a proprietary networking platform specifically created to address the needs of control applications. The platform is built on a protocol created by Echelon Corporation for networking devices over media such as twisted pair, powerlines, fiber optics and RF. It automates various functions within buildings such as lighting and HVAC. Peer-to-peer architecture means there’s no need for a central computer or controller. At www.lonmark.org.

X10
X10 is an international and open industry standard for communication among electronic devices for home automation. It primarily uses powerline wiring for signaling and control, where the signals involve brief radio frequency bursts representing digital information. A wireless radio based protocol transport is also defined. X10 was developed by Pico Electronics remote control home devices and appliances. At http://www.x10.com/

BACnet
BACnet is a communications protocol for building automation and control networks. It is an ASHRAE, ANSI and ISO standard protocol. It was designed to allow communication of building automation and control systems for applications such as heating, ventilating and air conditioning control, lighting control, access control and fire detection systems and their associated equipment. The protocol provides mechanisms for computerized automation devices to exchange information, regardless of the particular building service they perform. At www.bacnetinternational.org.

USNAP Alliance
It promises to provide a common connector between the communications module and devices including a thermostat, energy display, load controller, home appliances and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It enables any home area network standard, now and into the future, to use any vendor’s smart meter as a gateway into the home, without adding additional hardware. The approach, with a protocol independent serial interface, extends the smart grid to energy aware consumer products. At www.usnap.org.

Insteon
Insteon is a wireless home-control networking technology.  Insteon technology simultaneously utilizes both wireless RF and the powerlines (electrical wires) in a home or building. Insteon signals travel through the air and over electrical wires at the same time. Since issues with each physical medium seldom co-exist at any particular location, each helps to work around issues on the other.  Data indicates that error rates are approximately 100 times less likely given this dual-band advantage. At www.insteon.

ULE (Ultra-Low Energy) Alliance
ULE addresses ultra-low energy application requirements by introducing optimized communication methods. It is identified with low power consumption, low latency, long range, moderate data rate and value-added complementary voice capabilities. ULE is based on DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications), which is the de-facto standard for residential and business cordless phone communications worldwide. At www.ulealliance.org.

OSGi Alliance
The OSGi technology as a gateway facilitates the componentization of software modules and applications and assures remote management and interoperability of applications and services over a broad variety of devices. Building systems from in-house and off-the-shelf OSGi modules increases development productivity and makes them much easier to modify and evolve. OSGi technology is a set of specifications that defines a dynamic component system for Java. These specifications reduce software complexity by providing a modular architecture for large-scale distributed systems as well as small, embedded applications. At www.osgi.org.

TAP and OpenTAP
Telocator Alphanumeric Protocol (TAP) is an industry-standard protocol for submitting text messages to cellular phones or alphanumeric pagers. The sender uses a TAP software client to send messages to OpenTAP gateway using a dialup modem. OpenTAP gateway can be used to replace the TAP service to gain a single TAP access number, single protocol settings and a single management interface to manage all mobile devices and message logs. For TAP, at www.tapgateway.com and for OpenTAP at http://www.open-telecom.co.uk.

Home Gateway Initiative
The HGI, founded by major broadband service providers and joined by leading vendors of digital home equipment, publishes requirements for digital home building blocks. Those building blocks are the hardware and software in the digital home that connect consumers and services. They include home gateways, home networks and home network devices. At www.homegatewayinitiative.org

RDK Reference Design Kit
The Reference Design Kit (RDK) is a pre-integrated software bundle that provides a common framework for powering customer-premises equipment (CPE) from TV service providers, including set-top boxes, gateways and converged devices. The RDK was created to accelerate the deployment of next-gen video products and services. It enables TV service providers to standardize certain elements of these devices, but also to easily customize the applications and user experiences that ride on top. At www.rdkcentral.com.

Smart TV Alliance
Smart TV Alliance toolkit adds version 4.0 spec and smart home support, enhances emulator and validation for app development.

Smart TV application developers can develop apps faster with the new Smart TV Alliance software development kit. New and updated toolkit features help developers reach the Alliance’s 58 million compatible smart TVs in a single, integrated process through the Smart TV Alliance Common Developer Portal.

SDK 4.0 includes support for the most recent Version 4.0 specification, and is compatible with earlier versions. Developers will now be able to run multi-resolution apps and use more video and audio formats with:

  • Device emulator for Smart TV Alliance Smart Home Specification 1.0
  • User agent customization to build a more flexible browser environment
  • Allowance for multiple browser resolution
  • Network Service Discovery option
  • Update of CSS, HTML and JavaScript validation

More than 6,000 developers have registered in the Common Developer Portal to develop, test and publish their apps once for all compatible LG, TP Vision (for Philips), Toshiba and Panasonic smart TVs. Portal registration and use is free and developers can upgrade to premium technical support. At www.smarttv-alliance.org

Apple Home Kit
Apple took a dive into the connected home at its Worldwide Developer Conference in June 2014 with its Home Kit, which will allow the iPhone or iPad to become the remote control for an entire home. Apple’s Home Kit allows devices such as garage doors, door locks, lights, webcams and thermostats to be certified as ‘Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod’ or MFi. Each device can be accessed through the Home Kit app, rather than juggling each manufacturer’s app separately. Once a user’s devices have been integrated with the Home Kit, they can be grouped together into different “scenes.” When it’s time for bed, for instance, the user can say to Siri, “Go to bed,” and the iPhone will turn down the thermostat, make sure the garage door is closed and turn off specific lights in the home. The MFi-certified devices will have a wireless chip that can communicate over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or ZigBee. Apple partners: Philips, Honeywell, Schlage and Haier. Haier had the first appliance to receive the MFi certification. At https://developer.apple.com/homekit

Wavenis Technology
Wavenis is a highly optimized wireless technology for M2M and wireless sensor network (WSN) applications. With a finely tuned balance of long-range wireless connectivity and ultra-low power consumption, Wavenis offers a host of features to simplify network installation, remote control, data monitoring and automated 2-way communications. At www.coronis.com.

EnOcean
The batteryless EnOcean wireless standard (ISO/IEC 14543-3-10), which is optimized for ultra-low power and energy harvesting applications, lays the foundation for maintenance-free wireless solutions to intelligently control buildings and smart home systems without the use of cables or batteries – thanks to energy harvesting. There are more than 1,200 interoperable products available. The EnOcean Alliance defines standardized application profiles to ensure the interoperability of all products from different vendors. At www.enocean-alliance.org.

Embedded RTOS
An embedded real-time operating system (RTOS) is an operating system (OS) intended to serve real-time application requests. It must be able to process data as it comes in, typically without buffering delays. Processing time requirements (including any OS delay) are measured in tenths of seconds or shorter. A key characteristic of an RTOS is the level of its consistency concerning the amount of time it takes to accept and complete an application’s task; the variability is jitter. A hard real-time operating system has less jitter than a soft real-time operating system. The chief design goal is not high throughput, but rather a guarantee of a soft or hard performance category. An RTOS that can usually or generally meet a deadline is a soft real-time OS, but if it can meet a deadline deterministically it is a hard real-time OS. An RTOS has an advanced algorithm for scheduling. Scheduler flexibility enables a wider, computer-system orchestration of process priorities, but a real-time OS is more frequently dedicated to a narrow set of applications. Key factors in a real-time OS are minimal interrupt latency and minimal thread switching latency; a real-time OS is valued more for how quickly or how predictably it can respond than for the amount of work it can perform in a given period of time.

Thread
Recognizing the need for a new and better way to connect products in the home, seven companies joined forces to form the Thread Group and develop Thread, a proprietary IP-based wireless networking protocol. The charter of the Thread Group is to guide the adoption of the Thread protocol. Founding members consist of industry-leading companies including Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Nest Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM. Designed specifically for the home, the self-healing mesh network uses open standards and IPv6 technology with 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks) as the foundation and requires just a software enhancement for today’s 802.15.4 products. At www.threadgroup.org.

Open Interconnect Consortium
Technology firms Atmel Corporation, Broadcom Corporation, Dell, Intel Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Wind River formed an industry consortium focused on improving interoperability and defining the connectivity requirements for the billions of devices that will make up the Internet of Things. The Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) is focused on defining a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies to wirelessly connect and intelligently manage the flow of information among personal computing and emerging IoT devices, regardless of form factor, operating system or service provider. At www.openinterconnect.org.

AllSeen Alliance
The AllSeen Alliance is an open source nonprofit consortium (including Microsoft and Revolv) dedicated to driving the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that enable the Internet of Everything, built upon an open, universal development framework (AllJoyn from Qualcomm) and supported by an ecosystem and technical community. The Internet of Everything is based on the idea that devices, objects and systems can be connected in simple, transparent ways to enable seamless sharing of information across all of them. As no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the Internet of Everything and address every day, real-life scenarios, a cross-industry effort is needed to deliver new experiences to consumers and businesses. At www.allseenalliance.org.

Panasonic will today (March 23, 20`5) formally pledge to provide royalty-free access to software, patents and experience from its product ecosystem to speed the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) software and services, at the Embedded Linux Conference in San Jose, Calif. Panasonic will also announce plans to increase its intellectual property contributions to the AllSeen Alliance, a cross-industry nonprofit open source consortium.

Panasonic is an IoT leader in connected business-to-business (B2B) solutions and client applications. The company plans to make available for royalty-free use mature and tested device-to-cloud software technology, currently employed in home monitoring systems, solar energy and in retail applications. By increasing interoperability and security, the Panasonic initiative is expected to spur development and introduction of IoT solutions and connected devices by companies, universities and individuals.

“Open sourcing a proprietary technology invites the open source community to evaluate, work on and ultimately improve the software. In a market full of incompatible, proprietary offerings, this initiative brings a powerful tool to developers and equipment makers to help them create what the market wants in the IoT: interoperable and flexible services and applications leveraging data from connected devices and most importantly value to the customer,” said Panasonic Corporation of North American Chief Technology Officer Todd Rytting. “We are excited to contribute some of our technology and expertise to the effort already underway at the AllSeen Alliance. We hope our IoT initiative will inspire other global companies to contribute intellectual property and ideas to making networks work together through this alliance,” he said.

Panasonic has a history of collaboration through open intellectual property, such as releasing key patents to the public domain to help further development of the radio industry. It serves on the board of the AllSeen Alliance, which is dedicated to driving the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that support IoT with an open, universal development framework that is supported by a vibrant ecosystem and a thriving technical community. Panasonic is a “Gold member” of The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development, and which hosts the AllSeen Alliance as a Collaborative Project.

“As a well-respected member of the Alliance with deep experience in the IoT market, Panasonic is making a strong statement with this announcement,” said Philip DesAutels, PhD, Senior Director, IoT, AllSeen Alliance. “The power of IoT comes from the scale of the network of interconnecting things. The more things that seamlessly connect using open protocols, the more individuals, businesses and communities can do. With this announcement Panasonic is extending the reach and power of AllJoyn to deliver an Internet of Everything.”

Panasonic will contribute its device-to-cloud software open source code to the OpenDOF Project Inc. (www.opendof.org), a non-profit entity Panasonic founded earlier this month to administer open source software contributed by Panasonic and the open source community. It will focus on expanding a secure, flexible and interoperable open source software framework to enable the development of scalable and reliable network services from a variety of components and systems including gateways and cloud services. The framework will support different IoT networking technologies, and new deployments as well as legacy systems. It will target services in two major areas: collecting data from devices such as sensors and remote control of devices. Panasonic will also contribute software code and experience to the Gateway Working Group of the AllSeen Alliance.

Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)
AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel in March 2014 formed the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), an open membership group focused on breaking down the barriers of technology silos to support better access to big data with improved integration of the physical and digital worlds. The consortium will enable organizations to more easily connect and optimize assets, operations and data to drive agility and to unlock business value across all industrial sectors. An ecosystem of companies, researchers and public agencies is emerging to help drive adoption of Industrial Internet applications, a foundational element for accelerating the Internet of Things. The IIC is a newly formed not-for-profit group with an open membership that will take the lead in establishing interoperability across various industrial environments for a more connected world. Specifically, the IIC’s charter will be to encourage innovation by:

  • Utilizing existing and creating new industry use cases and test beds for real-world applications;
  • Delivering best practices, reference architectures, case studies, and standards requirements to ease deployment of connected technologies;
  • Influencing the global standards development process for Internet and industrial systems;
  • Facilitating open forums to share and exchange real-world ideas, practices, lessons, and insights;
  • Building confidence around new and innovative approaches to security.

At www.iiconsortium.org.

IFTTT
IFTTT, short for “If This Then That,” is a service that enables users to connect different Web applications together through simple conditional statements known as “Recipes”. IFTTT was developed by Linden Tibbets and launched in 2010. IFTTT enables users to create and share “Recipes” that fit the statement: “if this then that”. The “this” part of a Recipe is called a Trigger. Some example Triggers are “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “I check in on Foursquare”. The “that” part of a Recipe is called an Action. Some example Actions are “send me a text message” or “create a status message on Facebook”. The combination of a Trigger and an Action from a user’s active channels are called Recipes. Major brands—including Philips, Nest, Belkin (WeMo Wi-Fi-enabled light switches for home automation) and Quirky—have made their products compatible with IFTTT. In August 2014, ADT announced its intent to employ IFTTT in its ADT Pulse service. At www.ifttt.com

In May 2015, Amazon Echo has its own IFTTT channel, with new recipes that lets people quickly save spoken to-do items to Evernote task lists, among other things. Amazon Echo is designed around a person’s voice. It’s always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it detects the wake word. You can pick Alexa or Amazon as your wake word. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound, too.

Coaxial
Coaxial cable, or coax, is hard wire used as a transmission line for radio frequency signals in numerous applications.

CAT 5, 5e and 6
Category 5 cable (Cat 5) is a twisted pair high signal integrity cable type used in structured cabling for computer networks as well as telephony and video. Most Category 5 cables are unshielded, relying on the twisted pair design for noise rejection. Category 5 has been superseded by the Category 5e spec. Category 6 cable is for gigabit Ethernet and other network physical layers that is backward compatible with the Category 5/5e and Category 3 cable standards.

HDMI
High definition multimedia interface is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data and a digital alternative to consumer analog standards such as radio frequency coaxial cable, composite video, S-video, component video, D-Terminal, or VGA. HDMI connects digital audio/video sources (set-top boxes, upconvert DVD players, HD DVD players, Blu-ray disc players, AVCHD camcorders, personal computers, video game consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and AV receivers) to compatible digital audio devices, computer monitors, video projectors and digital televisions. HDMI follows the EIA/CEA-861 standards. It supports, on a single cable, any uncompressed TV or PC video format, including standard, enhanced and high definition video; up to 8 channels of compressed or uncompressed digital audio; a consumer electronics control (CEC) connection; and an Ethernet data connection. The CEC allows HDMI devices to control each other when necessary and allows the user to operate multiple devices with one remote control handset.

Fiber
Fiber optic communication is a hard wire method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information. Network architectures have been developed to reduce the cost of installing high bandwidth services to the home, often lumped into the acronym FTTx for “fiber to the x.” These include FTTC for fiber to the curb, also called FTTN or fiber to the node, FTTH for fiber to the home and FTTP for fiber to the premises, using “premises” to include homes, apartments, condos, small businesses. More recently, FTTW for fiber to wireless. Fiber to the home (FTTH) is the delivery of a communications signal over optical fiber from the operator’s switching equipment all the way to a home, thereby replacing existing copper infrastructure such as telephone wires and coaxial cable. Fiber to the home provides vastly higher bandwidth to consumers, enabling more robust video, Internet and voice services. At www.ftthcouncil.org.

Staples Connect (Zonoff platform)
Smart home platform-provider Zonoff has a partnership with Staples for the Staples Connect home automation kit that supports smart home device brands, provided they transmit over Wi-Fi, Z-Wave or the Lutron Clear Connect wireless standard. Plans include partnerships with ecosystem devices like Goji smart locks, Koubachi garden sensors and Radio Thermostats’ Wi-Fi-connected products. Soon support ZigBee, Bluetooth and Insteon-based products. At http://www.staples.com/Staples-Connect-Home-Automation/

Cloud of Things
Cloud of Things provides an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that enables businesses to develop self-branded Internet of Things solutions quickly and easily. The Cloud of Things platform delivers the complete set of elements that constitute an IoT solution – SDKs for endpoint devices, an insight-driven big-data cloud backend and an engine that automatically generates source-code for mobile control applications. At www.cloudofthings.com

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Keeping America’s Transit Systems Secure

March 16, 2015

(Transportation security expert Larry Mays recently participated in a Security Update question-and-answer session about the security challenges facing America’s transit systems. Mays is director, business development, transportation for South Plainfield, N.J.-based 4D Security Solutions, a high-level electronic security systems integrator with deep engineering, IT and software customization capabilities.)

Security Update:  What are the most pressing security problems facing America’s transit systems?
Larry Mays:  Obviously the number one concern is terrorism. Preventing a catastrophic event which is intentionally aimed at harming people, disrupting commerce and/or instilling fear on the psyche of the American public is at the top of the list of all levels of government.  Since 9/11 transit security has been very concerned with having another major transit event in this country. And with good reason – there are groups whose sole purpose is to instill fear and to undermine the safety and security of the American public.  Europe has more exposure to this type of threat, but every day would-be attackers are attempting and getting closer with succeeding at hitting U.S. targets.

Second on the list is organized crime rings who target transit systems for purposes of smuggling, trafficking, theft of expensive goods and agency supplies. Third is the safety of travelers from slip and fall accidents and other events caused by human error, such as the recent New York MTA commuter train derailment.

SU:  Are there significant differences in the challenges faced by bus and rail systems?
LM:  Not really, only that the rolling stock solutions for buses are more mature.  Therefore they are more prevalent and tested.  However, buses and bus riders are far more vulnerable so it is more challenging to provide comprehensive protection.  For subways some technologies are more applicable and can work to help automate the process.  It is simpler to provide access control for rail systems as the restricted areas are easier to define and hence develop solutions.  For example, subway systems can use motion detection sensors to detect unwanted intruders when someone is in defined “off-limits” secure areas, such as tunnels, bridges and tracks.  Systems can be designed for cameras to automatically zoom in when an alarm is triggered. A field operations guide can be integrated into the system to instruct console operators of the proper policies and procedures.

Buses, on the other hand, roll down open city streets. Bus depots are open and the general public has easy access. Conversely it is easier to add speed deceleration and stopping solutions, panic buttons and remote video feeds for buses.  So there are pros and cons, but for the most part protecting the traveling public is a challenge.

SU:  What are the top security solutions available to transit administrators?
LM:  There are many more tested mobile solutions for rolling stock, such as on-board cameras, remote speed controlling and vehicle stopping technology, especially for buses.  If a bus or truck has been high jacked it is possible to remotely take control of the speed controls and bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.  Further, there is commercially available off-the-shelf security integration platforms that can support the fundamental designs for a robust concept of operations (CONOPS).  The next step in hardening a transit operator’s infrastructure is the total and absolute integration of access control, cameras, intrusion, fire, burglar alarms and other types of perimeter protection into a common command center user interface.

Security applications that have been used by the military for years, is now available commercially. These new systems are taking advantage of software development methodologies that enable the closer integration of processes, people and disparate legacy systems.  In addition it is possible to provide video on more output devices such as smartphones and tablets.  The desire to integrate multiple law enforcement agencies data feeds to provide a capacity for more ubiquitous real-time information sharing is now possible.   

SU:  As an integrator, how does 4-D select its security solutions?
LM:  We match our solutions, partners and platform technologies with our go-to-market strategy.  We ensure there is complete alignment from strategy to fulfillment.  We look at best-in-breed technologies that have been thoroughly tested and proven in the market.

4D is an engineering company first and a security systems integrator second.  That means we engineer and integrate component technologies in our labs first. We test and perform a comprehensive evaluation before rolling anything out to our customers.  We target specific verticals so we have an in-depth perspective of each customer’s challenges.  When possible, we use repeatable solutions so as not to have to start from scratch on every engagement.  If required we will engineer new solution concepts if nothing is readily available.  We take pride in understanding our customers’ challenges.

SU:  Is there funding available to meet the need? If so, where will it come from?
LM:  I wouldn’t say that funding is available. It’s been drying up and the Department of Homeland Security has provided less and less each year. This means in many cases public agencies have to self-fund. Consequently funding for security competes with other priorities like system maintenance that is necessary to maintain a safe and reliable operating environment.

SU:  Do you see any new solutions on the horizon?
LM:  Yes, software packages – off-the-shelf – that can be implemented as the underlying platforms for an integrated CONOPS architecture.  The CONOPS theory has long been a patchwork of different security technologies integrated into processes that still rely heavily on disparate systems with an overlay of operational practices and people holding everything together.  In the past, large CONOPS systems were customer-specific projects built from scratch.  Many of these projects led by large Fortune 500 companies failed.  Anytime you build software applications from scratch it’s a very risky business due to the predictable number of bugs inherent in all new software.  The longer software is in the market the more bugs are found and eliminated.  Commercially available CONOPS software programs are the thing that security directors for airports, maritime terminals, metro transit agencies and commercial heavy rail operators will be seriously looking at in the near future.  And they will not be looking at Greenfield scenarios, but rather tried-and-tested platforms from which to implement their CONOPS strategies.

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Keeping America’s Transit Systems Secure

March 13, 2015

(Transportation security expert Larry Mays recently participated in a Security Update question-and-answer session about the security challenges facing America’s transit systems. Mays is director, business development, transportation for South Plainfield, N.J.-based 4D Security Solutions, a high-level electronic security systems integrator with deep engineering, IT and software customization capabilities.)

Security Update:  What are the most pressing security problems facing America’s transit systems?
Larry Mays:  Obviously the number one concern is terrorism. Preventing a catastrophic event which is intentionally aimed at harming people, disrupting commerce and/or instilling fear on the psyche of the American public is at the top of the list of all levels of government.  Since 9/11 transit security has been very concerned with having another major transit event in this country. And with good reason – there are groups whose sole purpose is to instill fear and to undermine the safety and security of the American public.  Europe has more exposure to this type of threat, but every day would-be attackers are attempting and getting closer with succeeding at hitting U.S. targets.

Second on the list is organized crime rings who target transit systems for purposes of smuggling, trafficking, theft of expensive goods and agency supplies. Third is the safety of travelers from slip and fall accidents and other events caused by human error, such as the recent New York MTA commuter train derailment.

SU:  Are there significant differences in the challenges faced by bus and rail systems?
LM:  Not really, only that the rolling stock solutions for buses are more mature.  Therefore they are more prevalent and tested.  However, buses and bus riders are far more vulnerable so it is more challenging to provide comprehensive protection.  For subways some technologies are more applicable and can work to help automate the process.  It is simpler to provide access control for rail systems as the restricted areas are easier to define and hence develop solutions.  For example, subway systems can use motion detection sensors to detect unwanted intruders when someone is in defined “off-limits” secure areas, such as tunnels, bridges and tracks.  Systems can be designed for cameras to automatically zoom in when an alarm is triggered. A field operations guide can be integrated into the system to instruct console operators of the proper policies and procedures.

Buses, on the other hand, roll down open city streets. Bus depots are open and the general public has easy access. Conversely it is easier to add speed deceleration and stopping solutions, panic buttons and remote video feeds for buses.  So there are pros and cons, but for the most part protecting the traveling public is a challenge.

SU:  What are the top security solutions available to transit administrators?
LM:  There are many more tested mobile solutions for rolling stock, such as on-board cameras, remote speed controlling and vehicle stopping technology, especially for buses.  If a bus or truck has been high jacked it is possible to remotely take control of the speed controls and bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.  Further, there is commercially available off-the-shelf security integration platforms that can support the fundamental designs for a robust concept of operations (CONOPS).  The next step in hardening a transit operator’s infrastructure is the total and absolute integration of access control, cameras, intrusion, fire, burglar alarms and other types of perimeter protection into a common command center user interface.

Security applications that have been used by the military for years, is now available commercially. These new systems are taking advantage of software development methodologies that enable the closer integration of processes, people and disparate legacy systems.  In addition it is possible to provide video on more output devices such as smartphones and tablets.  The desire to integrate multiple law enforcement agencies data feeds to provide a capacity for more ubiquitous real-time information sharing is now possible.

SU:  As an integrator, how does 4-D select its security solutions?
LM:  We match our solutions, partners and platform technologies with our go-to-market strategy.  We ensure there is complete alignment from strategy to fulfillment.  We look at best-in-breed technologies that have been thoroughly tested and proven in the market.

4D is an engineering company first and a security systems integrator second.  That means we engineer and integrate component technologies in our labs first. We test and perform a comprehensive evaluation before rolling anything out to our customers.  We target specific verticals so we have an in-depth perspective of each customer’s challenges.  When possible, we use repeatable solutions so as not to have to start from scratch on every engagement.  If required we will engineer new solution concepts if nothing is readily available.  We take pride in understanding our customers’ challenges.

SU:  Is there funding available to meet the need? If so, where will it come from?
LM:  I wouldn’t say that funding is available. It’s been drying up and the Department of Homeland Security has provided less and less each year. This means in many cases public agencies have to self-fund. Consequently funding for security competes with other priorities like system maintenance that is necessary to maintain a safe and reliable operating environment.

SU:  Do you see any new solutions on the horizon?
LM:  Yes, software packages – off-the-shelf – that can be implemented as the underlying platforms for an integrated CONOPS architecture.  The CONOPS theory has long been a patchwork of different security technologies integrated into processes that still rely heavily on disparate systems with an overlay of operational practices and people holding everything together.  In the past, large CONOPS systems were customer-specific projects built from scratch.  Many of these projects led by large Fortune 500 companies failed.  Anytime you build software applications from scratch it’s a very risky business due to the predictable number of bugs inherent in all new software.  The longer software is in the market the more bugs are found and eliminated.  Commercially available CONOPS software programs are the thing that security directors for airports, maritime terminals, metro transit agencies and commercial heavy rail operators will be seriously looking at in the near future.  And they will not be looking at Greenfield scenarios, but rather tried-and-tested platforms from which to implement their CONOPS strategies.

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Security industry editors talk about what they look for at trade shows

By Jon Daum

February 25, 2015

A security trade show, such as ISC West or ASIS, requires a major effort from all exhibitors – including those with 10X10 booths in the back of the hall to the huge displays just inside the entrance.

The costs for even the smallest companies can top $30,000 including booth rental, employee costs (airfare, ground transportation, lodging and food), shipping and other related expenses. And that doesn’t include the costs of planning and preparing for the event usually months in advance. Big companies, which may also host lavish customers events, can spend up to $1 million.

And while the shows provide an ideal venue for reconnecting with current customers and looking for potential new business, it’s a shame that so many companies forget about one of their most important publics — the media.

While it may seem that at peak times that the entire industry is present on the show floor, only a small percentage of end users attend these events. That’s why the media becomes so important. Reaching out to those non-attendees after the show can best be done through the publications, websites and social media of the security industry and related vertical markets.

Trade shows are really endurance events for most editors. They may have 20 or more meetings each day, moving from booth to booth every 20-30 minutes and then adding an evening event before heading back to their hotel rooms to post a story for the next day.

Each editor is a little different in how he/she likes to be approached by companies with interesting products and services. Security Update recently asked two veteran editors what they like to learn from show exhibitors.

Editor Steve Lasky will be attending his 27th ISC West show this April. His publication, Security Technology Executive appeals primarily to end users. What interests him is news about new technologies and services.

“I’m looking for a compelling story that I can share with my readers,” he said. “There are too many companies and the shows are far too large for me to get around to all the booths.”

While he does his best to support those companies that advertise with his publication, Lasky said he is also open to meet with non-advertisers —even those start-up companies located in the smaller booths.

“The entrepreneur has been the backbone of this industry for 25 years,” he said.

But he advised those looking for a block of an editor’s time to work with an experienced public relations/marketing firm to help craft a company message in a way he and his colleagues prefer.

Rodney Bosch is the senior editor of Security Sales & Integration, a publication that aims at the dealer and integrator community.  The veteran of 10 ISC West shows said he doesn’t want to hear “market speak” when meeting with an exhibitor.

“What I want to hear is how the technology can be applied in the field,” he said. “I want to know how it can be used by dealers and integrators to meet the needs of end users.”

He said he also likes companies that leverage their engineers as subject matter experts to talk about pressing industry issues. By doing so they provide new sources that he can use for future stories.

Bosch also said he feels a need to meet with advertisers as their support helps to pay for the industry publications. But that doesn’t necessarily rule out meetings with other exhibitors.

“We have tremendous time constraints at these major shows and don’t get to spend a lot of time in any company’s booth,” he said. “But we always find room to fit a few smaller, non-advertisers into our schedules — especially if they have something different to say.”

That seems to be the key with editors. They want to hear from companies that take the time and effort to develop a coherent message that goes beyond the newest features of the latest security widget. Editors want to hear about real news, not just news releases.

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Security industry can play key role in fight against human trafficking

By Cindy Weigle

February 18, 2015

It’s modern day slavery, the exploitation of men, women, boys and girls forced into labor and/or prostitution. Human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry – just behind drug trafficking – with children accounting for roughly half of all its victims. In the U.S. it’s a $32 billion a year business and it’s growing. San Diego alone has seen a 600 percent increase over the last five years.

Awareness is the key, according to Jamie Quient, a lawyer with San Diego-based law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. Quient is also the founder and chair of the Lawyers Club of San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force. She recently gave a presentation on the topic of human trafficking to the San Diego Chapter of ASIS International. Her message to the security and law enforcement professionals in the room was that they can play a key role in the fight against this de-humanizing crime.

“You are literally the eyes and ears of our society, so you can stop this,” said Quient. “If you can learn the signs of trafficking and report it as it is happening you can help fight this.”

There are two types of human trafficking – labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Labor trafficking is worker exploitation where workers are brought into the country to work for little or no pay. They are funneled into construction, restaurant, landscaping, janitorial services and domestic services jobs. Often times they are not in the U.S. legally, so their exploitation is even less likely to be reported. Quient’s presentation focused primarily on sex trafficking, where individuals are forced or coerced into prostitution and other areas of the commercial sex trade.

The Internet and social media have gone a long way to making sex trafficking easier. Victims are recruited on sites like Facebook with misleading and enticing posts and then sold for sex through websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com. Gangs are responsible for much of the trafficking, recruiting girls out of middle and high schools. The average age of entry is 12 – 14 years-old.  In San Diego the demand is fueled by the military, large sporting events, tourism and conventions.

Spotting victims isn’t always easy. According to Quient, while disadvantaged and at risk youth are often targeted, human trafficking transcends age, race and socioeconomic background. It can happen anywhere. Some of the ways to identify a victim include:

  • Claims of just visiting and the inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Appears malnourished
  • Avoids eye contact
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations. For example: opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.
  • Apartment with several women as tenants and frequent male visitors
  • Payment of rent in cash for a year or two in advance
  • Expensive clothing, jewelry or electronics (beyond the usual means of the victim)
  • Branding (often performed by pimps to denigrate and control victims)

Quient said California lawmakers recently passed Senate Bill 1165, which encourages sex trafficking prevention education to be incorporated into the public school curriculum. She also said Lawyers Club of San Diego is launching a Community Education Program, which will offer presentations and training on human trafficking. She again emphasized the importance of raising community awareness.

“If you see someone you think is being trafficked call law enforcement,” said Quient. “There is also a 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888) or text BEFREE.”

ASIS International is also taking a stand against human trafficking. Recently the organization announced plans with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to provide private security professionals with free online training focused on preventing child victimization. The free e-training is scheduled to be available any day now on the ASIS website.

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K-12 Security: A View From Three Industry Experts

By Jon Daum

February 11, 2015

(Security Update recently asked an integrator, equipment manufacturer and a security consultant to share what they saw as the most pressing challenges facing K-12 campus administrators and what tools existed to help remedy those concerns.)

Three leading security professionals agree that controlling the entries on a K-12 campus should be a top concern for any school administrator. Left open, doors can provide entry to a host of potential troublemakers, ranging from active shooters to thieves, sex offenders and non-custodial parents.

Dario Santana, president of San Diego-based security integrator Layer 3 Security Services, said his security discussions with educators usually begin with the question “How do I control who enters my school and keep out individuals who pose a threat to students, teachers and staff?” Concerns then move to protecting the campus’ physical assets from theft and vandalism.

He said there is no one technology to answer all K-12 security concerns, but there are three main layers of electronic solutions – access control, intrusion detection and video surveillance – that have proven to be effective.

“Access control can be as simple as a single door station with two-way audio (video intercom) and as complex as multiple authentication devices such as a keypad/reader combination deployed on multiple doors with software that allows administrators to manage all aspects of the system,” Santana said.

John Mosebar, vice president of marketing for video and audio intercom manufacturer Aiphone Corp. in Bellevue, Wash. whose company makes video and audio intercoms, agreed protecting the entries is key.

“It’s important that all exterior doors remain locked throughout the day,” he said. “Yet there has to be an efficient way to let approved visitors, volunteers and vendors enter. That’s where a video intercom helps by allowing visual and voice communication between the visitor and office staff before a decision is made to remotely unlock the door. We consider the video intercom to be a school’s doorbell and not just at the front door, but all entries.”

Santana said visitor management systems provide an added layer of access control before visitors gain access to classroom areas. These systems compare a visitor’s government-issued ID against criminal databases and sex offender registries before printing a temporary photo ID badge for approved visitors.

The intrusion layer includes sensors that are effective in detecting and deterring break-ins.  However with false alarms being a major problem for schools and first responders, Santana said he likes to add the third layer — video surveillance — to provide alarm verification.

“The intrusion system provides the real-time alarm while the video surveillance system captures the evidence to conduct an effective investigation,” he said.

Should someone penetrate the security layers or even during a natural disaster, Santana said mass notification systems — ranging from audio intercoms to computer-based system often linked to fire alarms — can provide voice instructions, digital displays or even text and email alerts with potentially life-saving instructions.

Patrick V. Fiel, a nationally recognized K-12 security consultant and founder of PVF Security Consulting based in Wilmington, N.C., provided a warning to schools looking to begin or upgrade a campus security system.

“Before doing anything, get a comprehensive risk assessment from a qualified school security expert,” he said. “An assessment will include reviews of the surrounding neighborhood and traffic patterns, landscaping, the parking lot, lighting, playgrounds and/or athletic fields, communications systems and outbuildings. It also will give special emphasis to potential entry points into the school – the doors, windows and even the roof top.”

In addition to pinpointing a campus’ security strengths and weaknesses, an assessment will help a school or district spend its money more effectively and efficiently, Fiel said. In many cases, security improvements may be as easy and inexpensive as cutting back overgrown landscaping, adding lighting or posting signs to move visitors in the proper direction. Policies and procedures can require that doors not be left propped open and instruct faculty and staff to challenge unknown adults on campus.

The three experts all agreed that there are effective means available to improve K-12 campus security.

“Hardening campus entries first is considered the best practice,” said Mosebar.  “It’s a concept that can work on virtually any campus. Then, as funds are available, it’s wise to add additional layers to provide security coverage for the entire campus.”

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How “Illicit” Is Changing Minds Regarding Security

By Jack DeMao

January 16, 2015

At the 2014 Barnes Buchanan Conference, Bill Polk of Capital One stated that one sixth of the world’s GDP comes from illicit activity. As the CEO of a security company that protects commercial businesses from cargo theft, I later sought Polk out regarding this astounding statistic. He suggested I take a look at his source, “Illicit” by Moises Naim, the former executive director of the World Bank.

Published in 2006, Naim’s book is proving to be a watershed, capturing a more global view of illicit activity in which commercial security risk is only an element. The same globalization that drives commercial markets is also driving the globalization of illicit activity. Conversely, globalization is not taking place in law enforcement and governance. Therefore, the criminal element in the world continues to gain a heady advantage, and it shows in an explosion of illicit activity.

Naim describes three major delusions that both the public and politicians steadfastly hold regarding illicit trade:

There is nothing new.

This ignores the exponential growth in illicit activity thanks to technologic advances. Technology has enabled illicit activity as well as compounded the globalization of crime in terms of viability and scale. The same trends in communication and technology that help manufacturers and service companies improve productivity, reduce raw material cost, and engage more closely with their customers, also help those engaged in illicit activity.  As Naim himself says:

The Internet’s “value to traffickers is immense…The convergence potential for trafficking and cyber crime…seems to be unlimited…All this without concern for physical location, freeing traffickers to play across borders and cover their tracks without impeding the actual flow of goods.”

Illicit trade is just about crime.

Global criminal activities are transforming and even funding international systems. Al Qaeda just gave us a small glimpse into well how well networked nefarious organizations have become.  More recently, and to a far greater degree, ISIS is funding itself through an entire illicit economy, including the sale of oil to Assad extortion along trade routes, and the illegal sale of antiquities.

These terrorist organizations partially fund their activities via cargo theft, an activity that costs the U.S. alone an estimated $35 billion annually. One of the reasons that the U.S. Dept. Of Homeland Security launched their C-TPAT initiative was to limit the extent to which terrorists can gain profits via cargo theft. As Naim mentions:

“International terrorism…follows on the footsteps of international illicit trade, employing the same tools and conveniences of the new global economy to melt into cities and countries, hiding in plain sight. Since 9/11 terrorist cells uncovered from Manila to Hamburg and London to New Jersey have had in common some use of illicit trade as a means to support themselves and fund their activities.”

Illicit trade is an underground phenomenon.

The public believes these activities are occurring offshore, or in some element of the economy in which they are not involved. This is fundamentally false. Copyright infringement of movies, music, and books is widely practiced, as is the purchase of “knockoffs” of known brands. Naim acknowledges that “Ordinary shoppers who buy knockoffs typically face little risk or none at all.”

If consumption of these goods is allowed to continue, companies that originate these products will not be commercially viable. Furthermore, as mentioned above, consuming these products may ultimately contribute to funding causes we fear the most.

Adam Smith made an assessment of illicit trade in 1776. “Not many people are scrupulous about smuggling when, without perjury, they can find any safe and easy opportunity of doing so. To pretend to have any scruple about buying smuggled goods…. would in most countries be regarded as one of those pedantic pieces of hypocrisy… ”

Naim is not optimistic that this trend will be reversed.

The rise of ISIS through illicit activity suggests Naim’s cautions are not only accurate, but could prove ominously prophetic. There is only marginal improvement in globalized law enforcement activity. One of the things that would help offset the growth of illicit activity would be giving the public a greater understanding of the effects of our own illicit activity. This would require a level of education and action that is not currently part of our educational process.

Therefore, as Naim predicts, I expect that illicit activity will continue to grow. Seen against this background of global illicit activity, in which many of the elements are synergistic, our company’s commercial customers will be facing greater challenges and must continue to be vigilant.

(Jack DeMao is President and CEO of Columbia, SC-based Electric Guard Dog, LLC, the largest supplier of electric security fencing in the U.S. DeMao is a mechanical engineer by training and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He previously served in executive roles at C.C. Dickson Co., Desoutter Ltd., and Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co’s automotive division.)

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Keep Tweeting During the Holidays

By Niki Perri

December 22, 2014

With the holidays in full swing it’s easy to put your business social media accounts on the back burner. However, understanding how to engage with your Twitter audience during the holidays can be of great use to your business.

Have fun with your posts
Since it is the holidays you can have more fun with your tweets. Post pictures of your office holiday party or what you are excited about for the New Year. This helps show your followers your business’/ brand’s personality. Use the hashtag #happyholidays to promote your brand with a trending hashtag. A Crimson Hexagon study showed that twitter holiday influence continues to increase until Christmas Eve. Also, try to relate your industry to the holidays. Security is a big issue during the holidays. Tweeting about having a happy and safe holiday season is a great opportunity to include a link about safety tips or a line of your security products.

Fewer tweets means more attention.
It’s true that a lot of people take off the last couple weeks in December, but not everyone. Many security professionals continue to work and check their social media accounts throughout the holidays. Fewer people tweeting means that your posts will get more attention. Also, work tends to slow down giving people have more time to give their social media accounts the due diligence they deserve.

Scheduling your posts
Even is you’re out of the office for the holidays you can still keep up with your social media accounts. Use a platform like HootSuite to schedule holiday tweets before you leave. It’s a great way to promote your business and/or brand while still being able to enjoy your holiday vacation.

(Niki Perri is an account coordinator at Daum Weigle)
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Connected Home Movement Offers Security Industry Opportunities

By Jon Daum

September 10, 2014

The graying of America is fostering entirely new industries that cater to the specific needs of the burgeoning senior citizen population. It’s estimated that by 2030, nearly 20 percent of Americans will be 65 years of age or older.

Some forward-looking companies in the security industry are already getting a jump on this trend by supplying products and services to help keep seniors living healthy, independent lives in their own homes. Remote patient monitoring, valued at $104.5 million in 2012, is expected to reach $296.5 million by 2019 according to GBI Research. Then, there is an extended market for monitoring the health of people suffering from chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

The goal is to provide a high level of healthcare services at a lower cost that fits within the lifestyles of system users.

According to Bill Zalud, editor emeritus of Security magazine, security service and equipment providers are poised to play a major role in this new connected home health environment.

“Security providers are perfectly positioned for connected health systems and services,” he said. “On the monitoring side, security folks are already in this sector – ADT, Bay Alarm, Alarm.com and Alarmforce – to name just a few. On the products, systems and installation side, opportunities range from typical security and home automation to diverse specialized healthcare devices and systems.”

To date, the security industry is best known for offering personal emergency reporting systems (PERS) that link a wearable pendant directly to a monitoring station and can, in an emergency, initiate two-way voice communication between a senior citizen and a specially trained station technician.

Last week about 200 medical, insurance, home improvement and security professionals met in San Diego for the Connected Home Summit, a two-day look at how the Internet and an ever-expanding assortment of electronic devices are forever changing the way healthcare and related services will be delivered.

Conference participants described floor sensors tracking an elderly person’s movements about the home, reassuring adult children and/or healthcare professionals that a senior is out of bed, has visited the bathroom and the kitchen. Motion sensors turn on or brighten lights as the person enters a room. Other sensors turn on music or a television to bring in outside stimulus. Electronic pillboxes show that prescribed medication was taken.

Conference participants described floor sensors tracking an elderly person’s movements about the home, reassuring adult children and/or healthcare professionals that a senior is out of bed, has visited the bathroom and the kitchen. Motion sensors turn on or brighten lights as the person enters a room. Other sensors turn on music or a television to bring in outside stimulus. Electronic pillboxes show that prescribed medication was taken.

Senior citizens generally prefer to remain independent and in their own homes and many can’t afford the cost of an assisted care facility, said Kian Saneii, chief executive officer of Independa, an embedded TV solution for health, safety and activity monitoring.

“If we can delay the move to a senior assisted living center by only one month, our customers can pay for years of in-home service from us and other (connected home) providers,” he said.

The consensus among conference panelists was that all home monitoring solutions need to be simple and integrated into a complete system so that senior patients – or consumers as the industry refers to them – can make it work.

The healthcare professionals said they view technology as a means to get vital data reliably delivered to doctors and nurses. That includes wearable technology (such as the Apple Watch introduced yesterday); smart TVs; smartphone and tablet apps; digital weight scales with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capability; and blood pressure, glucose-level and heart rate monitors that send results directly to a hospital or doctor’s office.

Daily results will reside in a cloud environment, allowing healthcare professionals to spot significant changes in readings. Conference panelists all made assurances that their network databases met high security standards, as well as federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements regulating patient – or consumer – privacy.

For those security providers interested in getting involved in the connected home movement, Zalud recommended considering partnerships with hospitals and insurance companies. And to keep up-to-date with the latest information and trends, he recommended organizations such as the Wi-Fi Alliance, the Thread Group, Z-Wave Alliance, the ZigBee Alliance and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. There is also a group with specialty coverage, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

(Jon Daum is a partner with Daum Weigle Inc. and an editor of the DW Security Update)

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Beyond the Hype:
Wicked or Wickedly Good Internet of Things
Impacts Home Security, Smart Home, Appliances

By Bill Zalud 

September 8, 2014

Craving more hype? Like the Kardashian, LeBron, Prince George kind?

Then say hello to the Internet of Things, what the hipsterazzi tag as IoT da Bomb. And also possible boom or doom for security and smart home dealers and distributors as well as home appliance manufacturers and their designers.

Concerning the hype, IoT will be everywhere. It will do everything. Touch everyone. Generate trillions of dollars; be on every wrist, imprinted into bike shorts and on cans of green beans, reside in every home, office, factory, hospital room, school desk, cave and tent worldwide. Every hour, the mighty IoT may one day spew out data streams of monoicosebyte proportions, all seemingly in a nanosecond.

Not a geek, my friend? Monoicosebytes, you see, are 9 exponential steps beyond that lowly terabyte.

But back to IoT hype: If you’re counting, it will be the fourth industrial revolution. The ultimate tipping point. The paramount of all paradigm shifts. The most disorderly of disruptive technologies A craze so big that “biggest” isn’t big enough.

How big? IDC, a global source of tech market intelligence with an awesome ability to count objects before they exist, claims the installed base of connected things will be 212 billion by the end of 2020. These IDC crystal-ballers say Internet of Things will be “a new construct in the information and communications tech world” and peg IoT spending at $8.9 trillion by 2020.

Predictable with any market “ready to explode,” there is even more research to prove the point.

In its August-released 2014 State of the Internet of Things study, Accenture Interactive, which advises marketing and digital clients worldwide, says that 69 percent of all consumers plan to buy an in-home IoT device in the next five years. By the end of next year, about 13 percent of consumers will own such a device – smart thermostats and Internet-connected security cameras are examples. Currently, only about four percent have even one such device.

Taking into account those who already own such products, Accenture Interactive ticked off connected devices expected to be most popular over the next few years:

• Connected security systems (11 percent expected adoption in the next year; 35 percent in the next five years).

• Smart thermostats (13 percent projected adoption in the next year; 43 percent in the next five years).

• Wearable fitness devices (22 percent expected adoption by 2015; 43 percent adoption in the next five years).

Eagerly sitting at the connected home table or ready to grab a seat, companies from giant-sized Google to pint-sized AAAA Security, are salivating over such a looming feast.

The trouble is – and you gotta know trouble’s around this bend – there’s no tangible IoT infrastructure, no fully-accepted new-and-improved Internet (like next-gen IPv6), no across-the-board standards beyond the old timey, not enough living engineers to build the IoT, no sufficient battery life to make little things tick-talk for very long. So hold on to your quad core smartphone: Things aren’t really talking to other things like the “sell” says.

In sad fact, the IoT cheerleaders can’t even agree on a moniker for the Internet of Things.

For example, the boys at Microsoft fancy “Internet of Your Things.” Folks on the factory floor get blue-collar tough with machine-to-machine and M2M. Cisco likes the Internet of Everything. Others prefer the Internet of Objects, Internet of Smart Objects or, when in France, tout de suite, the Internet of Objets.

Concerning such labels, it turns out the most-accepted term – Internet of Things – was coined by Procter & Gamble executive Kevin Ashton as an attention grabber to rouse snoozing grey flannels at a Cincinnati supply chain meeting in 1999, about the time, conspiracists may say, when Satan’s 666 mark was found hidden in P&G’s “man in the moon” logo.

OK. The Internet of Things is not wholly evil. One exception: investors and VC funds, when that great gadget turns into a decidedly dead horse. Which is a potential shared by dealers, distributors, appliance designers and product makers when their inventory shelves or new consumer goods are suddenly chock full of hype-hot but going nowhere.

Still, home security, automation, entertainment systems, home appliances and healthcare devices as well as the smart home overall will, in the long, long run, turn into things hung from the ubiquitous IoT.

In some ways, “it’s already here,” comments Adam Justice, vice president of embedded and networking firm Grid Connect and board member of the IP for Smart Objects (IPSO) Alliance. “Connected locks. Connected light bulbs. Connected home energy management systems.” These and other examples are now providing value to consumers. It also lets some companies “get ahead of the competition,” he says.

So, no matter hype or helpful, here today or waiting for tomorrow, it makes business sense to know more than a headline or two about IoT.

Basically, the Internet of Things is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing-like devices within the Internet infrastructure. It’s expected to offer advanced connectivity of objects, devices, systems and services covering a variety of protocols, domains and applications. Internet-connected objects will sense, communicate, compute and potentially actuate as well as have intelligence, multimodal interfaces, physical/virtual identities and attributes.

Beyond these basics, things, pardon the expression, get dicey quickly.

Which gets us back to the IPSO Alliance, a resource center and thought leader for industries seeking to establish the Internet Protocol as the basis for IoT and M2M applications, according to its stated role.

Earlier this year, the alliance stepped forward to broaden its Internet of Things standards vision to include education on the proper use of protocols to create end-to-end IoT solutions as well as to promote open standards using current and emerging IP technologies. “As more standards organizations attempt to lay claim to the IoT, it was important to re-define our vision to ensure we are meeting the needs of our membership and, more importantly, of the design community at large,” says Pete St. Pierre, the alliance president and a member of the product management team for the Internet of Things at Oracle.

Adds Alliance Chairman Geoff Mulligan, a consultant recognized as key developer of the embedded Internet, later this year “we will publish two documents outlining open standards for interoperability among objects.” The first, he says, defines a simple and extensible set of smart objects that can build communication between devices used in smart energy, home automation and a host of other functions. The second outlines a conceptually simple architecture that can be used to build interoperable machine-to-machine and IoT applications.

“The ultimate goal is to define how to use the existing set of open standards, specifically IP, to build successful IoT products,” adds St. Pierre. “This can be done without creating new and complicated protocols in the future.”

“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel,” agrees Christian Légaré, IPSO member and executive vice president and CTO at Micrium, which makes embedded software components for engineers building microprocessor, microcontroller and digital signal processing-based devices for appliances, among other products. It’s a matter of showing people “how to use the IP protocol and reference architectures,” he says.

In addition to such show and telling, an inherent issue hampering IoT growth is the 40+ year old IPv4 protocol, the fourth (Really the first; don’t ask.) version for the IP Internet. It routes traffic, among other functions, but limits the number of total address to 4,294,967,296, not nearly enough to handle anticipated IoT traffic.

Enter IPv6, way back in 2006. It solves the address limit problem and specifies a new packet format to minimize packet header processing by routers. Consider a packet like a letter: The header is like the envelope and the data area is whatever is inside the envelope. Because IPv4 and IPv6 packet headers are significantly different, the two protocols are not interoperable; in essence, IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4. So – close your eyes if you melt down over IT jargon – network operators implementing v6 IoT will need to run a dual stack IPv4/IPv6 network for years to come. Mulligan suggests, “It’s really not hard to run a dual stack, not as difficult as people think. And it will become a critical necessity” when those billions of devices hang on Internet.

In addition, for IPv6 to work, it must be implemented end to end: IPv6 has to be enabled by everyone along the way – network hardware vendors, transit providers, access providers, content providers and endpoint hardware makers.

There’s also a power challenge with IoT elements. “There is a need for next-generation power delivery that offers low power consumption and that transforms conventional styles of power supply,” advises Oleg Logvinov, director of special assignments in semiconductor firm STMicroelectronics’ Industrial & Power Conversion division. His company is a member of the IPSO Alliance and Logvinov is chair of the IEEE “Standard for an Architectural Framework for the Internet of Things’ Working Group, among other IEEE standards group assignments.

So, for numerous reasons, the shift to IPv6 is moving with lethargic speed; only by mid-2014 did IPv6 traffic go over four percent of total as compared to IPv4. Not many service providers are change-over activists. Observes Légaré: North American holds about 70 percent or so of worldwide IPv4 addresses and its service providers are “shy about investing in new gear after getting burned in the past.”

Another IoT obstacle is more perception than reality.

With 212 billion things — burglar alarms, smart thermostats, televisions, refrigerators, smartwatches – all talking at once, will the future bode monster Internet break-downs? “Right now, only 16 percent of traffic is consumer goods,” points out Légaré. In emerging IoT, much of the traffic will be very short spurts of information — an alarm, temperature, pressure or humidity, for example — made up of short and frequent packets, he points out.

With IoT at a crossroads, it’s understandable that IPSO is up on its paws and claws sharpening its vision, spurred by the over-hype, carrier reluctance, market confusion and tech complications of such a mighty transition. Muddling the scene, some say, is the recent, sudden eruption of a packet-load of self-proclaimed framers of the IoT constitution, heavy-hitter groups driving particular tastes in architecture and, can’t blame them, furthering of their bottom line goals. For example:

Thread — Recognizing what it says is the need for a new, better way to connect products in the home, seven companies joined forces to form the Thread Group and develop Thread, an IP-based wireless networking protocol aimed at product developers. Founding members — Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Samsung Electronics, Google’s Nest Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, Big Ass Fans and ARM — will create certification based on third-party testing to verify IoT product “quality, security and interoperability.” Certified products will bear the Thread logo. Designed specifically for the home, its self-healing mesh network model uses open standards and IPv6 technology with 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Networks) as foundation and requires, according to the group, “just a software enhancement for today’s 802.15.4 products.”

While Google itself is not a founding member (its Nest Labs is), some industry observers suggest it’s behind the wizard’s curtain. The president of Thread, Chris Boross, is technical product marketing manager at Nest and Google has made its home systems interest well known with the Nest acquisition. Thread is quick to point out that Nest Labs joined the group before Google gobbled it up, however.

Open Interconnect Consortium — Technology firms Atmel Corporation, Broadcom Corporation, Dell, Intel Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Wind River formed this group to improve interoperability and define connectivity requirements for IoT devices across multiple vertical markets. Hinting at future certification plans, OIC focuses, it says, on defining a common communications framework based on industry standard technologies to wirelessly connect and intelligently manage the flow of information among personal computing and emerging IoT devices, regardless of form factor, operating system or service provider. About competing groups and efforts, OIC, in its Web site FAQ, states that “currently, we don’t see one single effort that addresses all the necessary requirements.”

Specifications will use both existing and emerging standards such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct, ZigBee, Z-Wave and Ant+, the latter an interoperability function added to base ANT (Advanced Network Tools) protocol, an open access multicast wireless sensor net technology found in sport, wellness, home care and remote control devices. OIC branded devices will connect using many different operating systems — iOS, Android, Linux, Tizen, RTOS (real time operating systems) and others.

Influential semiconductor chipmaker Intel seems a natural at the OIC helm with Samsung Electronics hedging its bets with representation here and in Thread. In late August, Intel rolled out what it calls the “world’s smallest standalone 3G modem” as part of its increasing investment in IoT for connected home appliances, security devices, industrial systems and wearables. The chipset, just 300mm squared, combines transmit and receive functionality with a fully integrated power amplifier and power management, according to the company.

AllSeen Alliance — This group plans to drive widespread adoption of products, systems and services that enable IoT, built upon an open, universal development framework. Premier members are Electrolux, Haier, LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, Silicon Image, Technicolor and TP-Link. As of mid-August there are 62 members; so-called community members include AT&T Digital Life, Bosch, Cisco, Cloud of Things, HTC, iControl Networks, Revolv and Shaspa, to name a few. The Linux Foundation-charged alliance now manages the AllJoyn (by Qualcomm) open source project with software code using open standards. It also has “Designed for AllSeen” branding, its initial phase certification program for validating products that implement AllJoyn properly, according to the alliance. At a later time, it plans to introduce a more fully-featured certification program with interoperability testing.

While Qualcomm knows its involvement will juice up AllJoyn, another of the group’s more recently-onboard premier players, Microsoft, may see its own participation as a doorway into the smart home and office, thanks to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, Windows devices and Xbox game console. On the Official Microsoft Blog and posted in early July, Kevin Dallas, the company’s general manager, Internet of Things, wrote, “We believe the promise of IoT lies in making new and existing devices smarter by connecting them to services in the cloud.”

Another indicator: In mid-2014, Microsoft and American Family Insurance launched a business accelerator for startups focused on home automation. The accelerator will help next generation startups create advancements which lead to safer and smarter homes. “Home automation is ripe for startup innovation,” says Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president, developer experience and evangelism for Microsoft.

With more special interest groups than can fit in a Congressional committee room, will Thread, OIC and AllSeen and their muscle members be combatants or play nice-nice by working complementary slices of the total IoT pie?

Sorry, but togetherness may be a day late and a trillion dollars short. Battle lines are already drawn as consumer product makers roll out sky-rocketing numbers of Internet-connected burglar alarms, televisions, refrigerators, smartwatches and slow cookers with myriad IoT-like solutions. It’s valuable to ask if history will repeat itself: Remember the infamous 1970s videotape format war with its consumer-bloodied Betamax vs. VHS rumble? Four decades later, many smart home products on today’s market or near launch are incompatible with each other or different control platforms.

Always in fighting shape, “Google and Intel are competing; underlining protocols are all IP but they are competing now to some degree,” observes Légaré. Microsoft and Google also seem after the same things when it comes to IoT, too.

IPSO’s Mulligan is cross-my-fingers hopeful, however. “Frankly, we see ourselves as ‘big tent;’ we will embrace [others] as long as they talk open standards and don’t cause confusion. We are not saying we are the one and only way.” He sees more harmony than harm among alliances and consortia. His vision of the puzzle pieces fitting together: “View Thread as handling the lower level mesh layer underneath IP. View OIC as commissioning and providing security. And AllSeen as originally looking at a higher layer protocol space sitting on top of the Internet Protocol and using OIC for commissioning and security.”

Broadly optimistic, Logvinov philosophizes, “Look at it this way: islands are created and they grow and create a landmass” that everything and everyone can live on. “There are dangers, absolutely. But the possibilities outweigh the potential risks.”

Clearly, such groups influence IoT developments and help determine the role, product choices, installation needs, appliance designs and bottom lines of dealers, distributors, systems integrators, appliance designers and product manufacturers as well as what finally is purchased, installed and used by consumers, businesses and government agencies.

If such efforts manage to “deliver the right set of platforms and services to realize the IoT opportunity,” as Microsoft’s Dallas suggests, then some of the hyped excitement will turn into helpful reality. That may already be kind-of happening. “Consumers don’t care what the standards are just so things work together and easily,” points out Justice, who adds that the aim of providers is to “deliver the best experience to end users.” He is testing that formula in a recent retail relationship with Amazon.com, where his firm sells ConnectSense, a platform of DIY cloud-based Wi-Fi 802.11b/g wireless sensors that monitor changes in a user’s environment and then send notifications via phone call, email, text or Tweet. Various sensors monitor temperature, humidity, water, motion, security and light.

Still, a sure bet for the approaching IoT: There will be winners and losers.

• In that fantastic future, with everything IoT-enabled working in a standardized, open environment, there will be less need for custom design and installation for many projects except for the biggest, most complex or projects serving clients who need personal handholding.

• Future off-the-shelf purchasing may mean more buying off a retailer’s shelf or through the Web and not from a distributor’s warehouse or a dealer’s menu of choices. DIY – through Best Buy, Lowe’s, Staples, Amazon and myriad brick/mortar and online stores — will gain considerably as the realized IoT dampens consumer frustrations and fears. “DIY is increasingly a growing market. Convergence permits the same platform for multiple applications,” says Logvinov.

• Products, which often differentiate themselves as to their proprietary setting beyond features and aesthetics, will now be on a more level playing field where pricing – i.e., cheap prices – will be a much higher priority.

• As more things hop effortlessly onto the Internet and smartphones and tablets evolve into interactive Internet-based application displays and controllers, all without much end user fuss, professionally monitored alarms and security video may to some degree give way to self-monitoring consumers who can call police and emergency medical help directly – the ultimate in verified alarm.

• Product and system maintenance – that extra revenue under contract or purchased warrantee – will reconfigure with fees tumbling or disappearing with the advent of remote, automated diagnostics, repair and updating bundled in. The maintenance of things, devices and appliances, no matter their complexity, will look more like one giant Microsoft Update.

• With everything truly IoT-enabled and pricing pressured downward, mass marketing becomes more attractive and more easily accessible, especially for the widest reaching security companies and broadband providers – with both able to bundle.

Incidentally, there’s yet another IoT consortium; and, unlike the others, it concentrates solely on the industrial arena where the Internet of Things cannot afford every-so-often problems tolerated on the home front.

Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) — AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel formed the IIC to “break down the barriers of technology silos” and support better access to big data with improved integration of the physical and digital worlds, according to the group. It now boasts over 70 members including Microsoft. Goal of the consortium “has been [from the beginning] to bring large industry, small industry, academia and nonprofits together to discover the future direction of the Industrial Internet,” says Dr. Richard Soley, its executive director.

A more staid industrial sector, however, may or may not fall for the IoT uber-hype and competing solutions roiling in today’s consumer and home arenas.
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Bill Zalud, editor emeritus of Security Magazine, is a contributing writer to SDM, Smart Home and Appliance Design magazines. He conducted a session — My Refrigerator Talks! Sensing at Work Comes Home – at Sensors Expo 2014. Contact author at zaludreport@bnpmedia.com

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Security Officers’ On-Call Compensation Fight May Set New Rules, Tests

By Bill Zalud 

August 25, 2014

So what do famous TV physician Marcus Welby and Tim Mendiola, a real-life security officer, have in common?

Beyond their different and equally essential tasks, both are on-call when not with a patient or patrolling a site.

No doubt, this type of work scheduling occurs in a variety of diverse occupations, including ship engineers, utility workers, electrical technicians, tug boat pilots, midwives, information technologists, media personnel and junior airline pilots. And with some security officers, too.

However, when it comes to compensation, issues centering on security officer pay can get combative as in court-of-law argumentative. Take, for example, Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, a class-action status lawsuit that has been slowly wending its way through sometimes jousting California and federal Department of Labor agency rulings and opinions as well as prior decisions by a California Trial Court and then a California Court of Appeals.

CPS contracts with its clients, in this case construction companies at building sites throughout California, to provide security services. The package of services generally includes the presence of a security officer housed in an on-site trailer from 3 pm to 7 am, Monday through Friday, and for 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Basically, the Appeals court held that security officers who remain on the work site 16 hours per day during the week (eight hours “on duty” and eight hours “on call”) and 24 hours per day on the weekends (16 hours “on duty” and eight hours “on call”) must be compensated for their “on-call” time. But the employer could deduct up to eight hours of regularly scheduled “sleep time” when the trailer officers worked 24 hour shifts because the employer and trailer officer employees had entered into an agreement to exclude eight hours of sleep time from the officers’ compensable time.

Objecting to compensation for all of the on-call time minus weekend sleep time, CPS asked the California Supreme Court to review the Appeals Court decision, says Howard Knee of the law firm Blank Rome, LLC, Los Angeles, which represents CPS Security Solutions of Gardena, Calif. Knee expects Supreme Court action later this year.

If the Appeals Court decision is sustained, at least in California there may be new rules and tests to determine in certain circumstances if employers such as CPS must pay their officer employees for “on-call” time. And historically, such California actions can influence other parts of the country, suggests Knee, who adds that, depending on the Supreme Court result, there may be impact on “officer work agreements, what employers pay and what they don’t pay, concerning wage and hour laws.”

And the new rules and tests may not be limited to contract guarding firms but also apply to temporary or ongoing proprietary officer situations where enterprises have similar agreements or arrangements.

Not surprisingly, Knee sees value in always getting legal advice when it comes to work agreements and compensation plans that meet state and federal wage and hour laws. For more than 25 years, Knee’s client, CPS, has been providing security officer solutions in myriad applications including construction. It also offers security technology solutions and monitoring.

Specific to guarding, in Mendiola v. CPS Security Solutions, as with most legal actions, the devil is in the details embedded within facts (some of which follow here) and which were stipulated in the previous court action.

Prior to being hired by CPS, each trailer officer was required to sign a “Designation of Personal Time for In-Residence Guard,” also referred to as an “On-Call Agreement.” The On-Call Agreements designated eight hours per day, generally from 9 pm to 5 am, as “On-Call” hours. Under these agreements, each trailer officer agreed that the trailer home was his or her “residence,” and agreed to “reside during [his or her] employment in the trailer home provided by the company for [his or her] exclusive use.”

Those prospective hires who did not agree to the terms and conditions of employment as a trailer guard were offered positions as hourly guards, when available.

The trailers had many of the amenities of home, including a living area, a bed, a functioning bathroom and kitchen, heat and air conditioning. The trailers were equipped with locks, and only the assigned trailer officer and CPS maintenance staff had the keys. Officers were allowed to keep personal items in their trailers, including clothing, books, magazines, televisions, radios and personal computers, and to engage in personal activities while on call in the trailers, including sleeping, showering, cooking, eating, reading, watching television, listening to the radio and surfing the Internet. However, children, pets, and alcohol were not permitted on the premises, and adult visitors were permitted only if CPS’s client permitted it.

On week days, trailer guards were generally scheduled to actively patrol the job sites from 5 am to 7 am and from 3 pm to 9 pm. On weekends, trailer officers were on active patrol from 5 am to 9 pm. During these times, they were paid an hourly rate. For eight hours every day, generally 9 pm to 5 am, the trailer officers were considered to be on-call, which meant present on the job site or in the trailer, except as specified in the agreements.

For example, if a trailer guard wished to leave the job site during on-call hours, he or she was required to notify a dispatcher, provide information as to where the officer would be and for how long and wait for the reliever to arrive. If a guard requested to leave the job site during sleep time, the guard was paid from the moment of the request until a reliever arrives and, if required to remain on site, the guard was paid for the remainder of the sleep time.

After leaving the job site, the officer was required to remain within a 30-minute radius and carry a pager or cellphone. If called during that time, the officer was required to respond immediately. The trailer officers were not allowed to leave a job site before a reliever arrived. If no reliever was available, CPS had the right to order a trailer officer to remain at the job site, even if the officer had an emergency.

Relative to the lawsuit’s contentions, CPS did not consider on-call time when calculating hours worked, and trailer officers were paid for on-call time only if an alarm, noise, motion or other condition on the job site required investigation or they were waiting for or had been denied a reliever. When investigating a suspicious condition, officers were paid for the actual time spent conducting the investigation. If an officer spent three or more hours engaged in investigations during the on-call period, he or she would be paid for the entire eight hours.

In the Appeals Court ruling, the court held that security officers who remain on the work site 16 hours per day during the week (eight hours “on duty” and eight hours “on-call”) and 24 hours per day on the weekends (16 hours “on duty” and eight hours “on-call”) must be compensated for their “on-call” time. But the employer could deduct up to eight hours of regularly scheduled “sleep time” when the trailer officers worked 24 hour shifts because the employer and trailer officer employees had entered into an agreement to exclude eight hours of sleep time from the officers’ compensable time.

Knee says that his client — CPS Security Solutions – then appealed that ruling to the California Supreme Court.

In California and on the federal level, there are tests to determine hours worked. The California Labor Commissioner and the state courts there have a seven part test:

  • Whether there was an on-premises living requirement;
  • Whether there were excessive geographical restrictions on employees’ movements;
  • Whether the frequency of calls was unduly restrictive;
  • Whether a fixed time limit for response was unduly restrictive;
  • Whether the on-call employee could easily trade on-call responsibilities;
  • Whether use of a pager/cellphone could ease restrictions; and
  • Whether the employee had actually engaged in personal activities during on call-in time.

When it comes to sleep time for certain length of time and within certain employment agreements, California employers can deduct eight hours of sleep time, with a six hour verified minimum, from total compensation. The issue before the California Supreme Court is whether security officers residing at a construction site are entitled to compensation for all nighttime “on-call” hours, or may employers deduct the sleep time.

On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, defines: “An employee who is required to remain on-call on the employer’s premises is working while “on-call.” An employee who is required to remain on-call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on-call. Additional constraints on the employee’s freedom could require this time to be compensated.”

Also the U.S. Department of Labor, when considering sleep time, states: An employee who is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with the employer to exclude from hours worked bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than eight hours, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep. No reduction is permitted unless at least five hours of sleep is taken.

Still, generally speaking, U.S. courts distinguish between employees who are “waiting to be engaged” and those who are “engaged to wait,” finding only the latter time to be compensable on an hourly basis. The degree to which the on-call employee is free to engage in personal activities also is a key consideration.

A lawsuit, now under review by the California Supreme Court, could reset employment rules and compensation tests to determine “on-call” pay of security officers and could influence work scheduling and compensation elsewhere in the U.S. Depending on the Supreme Court’s review, there may be impact on “officer work agreements, what employers pay and what they don’t pay, concerning wage and hour laws,” says Howard Knee of Blank Rome, which represents CPS Security Solutions, the lawsuit’s defendant.

A lawsuit, now under review by the California Supreme Court, could reset employment rules and compensation tests to determine “on-call” pay of security officers and could influence work scheduling and compensation elsewhere in the U.S. Depending on the Supreme Court’s review, there may be impact on “officer work agreements, what employers pay and what they don’t pay, concerning wage and hour laws,” says Howard Knee of Blank Rome, which represents CPS Security Solutions, the lawsuit’s defendant.

(Bill Zalud is the editor emeritus at Security Magazine (www.securitymagazine.com))

 

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Trade show season requires heroes

By Jon Daum

March 21, 2014

If you are a security dealer, integrator or consultant, trade show season is a good time to develop or enhance customer relationships. And the big security trade shows are about to kickoff with ISC West, April 2 in Las Vegas.

As a veteran of dozens of trade shows, I know that walking an exhibit hall to take in 1,000+ booths can easily cover three to four miles. Then add an hour or two of standing while you talk with booth representatives and colleagues and your feet, legs and back will be very sore. It may be more than your average customer can — or should — take.

Here’s your chance to be a hero. You know your customer’s needs and should be on top of industry developments. So pick out only those companies and technologies that can benefit your customer’s organization. Then plot as linear of a course as possible across the show floor and escort your customer from booth to booth. Make introductions, cut through the booth BS and get down to what your customer really needs to know about each stop.

You’ll save a customer a lot of time and pain while providing a valuable service. And, in the end, that’s often the only thing that truly separates you from your competitors.

(Jon Daum is a partner at Daum Weigle and co-editor of Security Update. He also learned long ago that comfortable shoes are a must for surviving a trade show.)

 

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We can’t delay protecting our students

By Patrick V. Fiel, Sr.

February 28, 2014

With 10 shootings on American K-12 campuses already in early 2014 we can’t waiver in our efforts to better secure our children and teachers while at school. But all too often that need has given way to apathy, frugality, convenience and cultural considerations.

We can make a difference if we remain determined. Here are six recommendations that everyone involved – school administrators, security integrators and parents – can implement immediately.

1. Make security a top priority
All schools must have their current risk assessment plans reviewed and updated by an experienced education security expert. Then administrators must strictly enforce any and all new safety and security policies and procedures.

2. Implement a closed-campus policy
All schools, especially elementary schools, must be closed to outsiders until they are cleared to enter through a single entrance controlled by a video intercom. All other doors should remain locked throughout the day. Once a visitor is approved to enter, he or she must check in at the office and present government-issued identification to be screened by a visitor management system that checks FBI, state and local law enforcement databases for criminals and registered sex offenders.

3. Finance school security improvements
Properly securing a campus is not inexpensive and may require making difficult decisions to reallocate internal budgets. Yet there are solutions that do work and aren’t necessarily expensive. Also, both public and private grants may be available to help offset costs.

4. Build strong relationships with local law enforcement
If a district does not already have a regularly assigned officer for each campus, administrators must ask the police chief, sheriff or state police to make special assignments during school hours. Law enforcement response to an emergency needs to be in a range of one to three minutes to be effective.

5. Encourage parents to get involved
Parents can be a tremendous force in lobbying legislators for additional funding for school security. And parents need to make sure that any firearms in the home are securely stored and accounted for.

6. Get students and teachers involved in their own safety
Students and teachers are often hesitant to report what they see and hear on campus for fear of retribution. One option is to create a hotline and website that students and teachers can contact anonymously to report suspicious activities.

The combination of well-planned security procedures, risk assessments, crisis preparedness planning, security technology and training, along with the involvement of the entire community, can help to reduce incidents on and around school campuses. We owe it to our children to protect them as best we can.

(Patrick V. Fiel, Sr. is an independent security consultant and founder of Wallace, N.C.-based PVF Security Consulting LLC. He has served as public safety advisor for a large security integrator; executive director of security for the Washington, D.C. Public School System; and is retired from the U.S. Army Military Police Corps.)