Globalization in general terms has played a huge role on the worldwide “order of things” to date, with no end in sight. This worldwide phenomenon is affecting everything from job descriptions, to the cost of goods and services, to global weather patterns and pollution. The globalization trend also impacts the migration pattern of the worldwide work force. This “people flow” is changing the demographics in most major city populations worldwide, and driving the urban security agenda as a result.

A look at China is all you really need to see – a rural population straining the cities to their brinks, as people migrate in ever-increasing numbers in search of better jobs.

Urban centers in established countries in Europe and North America are experiencing growing numbers of immigrant populations (both legal and non-legal), which change both the complexion and complexity facing our urban population centers and state budgets. The U.S. Census Bureau defines urban areas in the United States as having a population density of at least 1,000 per square mile. Urban areas with at least 50,000 serve as a core of a metropolitan statistical area.

Securing these urban centers is an opportunity for both security manufacturers and integrators.

One interesting point is that urban security practitioners and their corporate security counterparts share many fundamental challenges. Both city mayors and corporate CEOs need to take a more holistic view of the factors affecting how security policy impacts their respective constituencies and overall levels of operational service. In so doing, the traditional methods of making short-term or “siloed” independent decisions about security and public safety are being replaced with a more interactive and collaborative model.

A successful Urban Security Policy model requires that law enforcement agencies at local, state, and federal levels communicate more effectively, and that this information-sharing model extends outward to various government agencies representing those local and national domains. Equally important is that this information- and policy-decision process involves the public, whom its ultimate goal is to protect. Information must be shared in real time.

COMSTAT: an early Collaboration

Securing urban environments with innovative technology is not a new concept. In fact, more than two decades ago, the now famous system – COMPSTAT – was deployed in the New York Police Department. Police integrated arrest records and IT systems by utilizing GIS software to map near real-time crime patterns. This information aligned patrol activity with high-crime areas. It directed police resources with automated crime pattern data, right down to a square block area and time of day. Equally important is that the system forced collaboration between the multiple precincts and their various departments as a requirement to guarantee success.

“We did things a certain way because we had always done them that way. We had to banish the phrase, ‘We have always’ from our vocabularies. We had to start asking, ‘How should we do it?’ and ‘How can we do it better?’” –  John Timoney, former New York City First Deputy Commissioner, Miami Police Chief

The COMPSTAT system is now deployed in a majority of U.S. urban environments. It is an example of how to apply what were considered at that time to be leading-edge technologies to create an urban security solution. It provided a way to integrate various technologies like GIS mapping and criminal databases for near real-time information sharing. It was an early example of an integrated security solution.

Fusion Centers: A New Era in Intelligence Collaboration

The objective of a fusion center is to improve communications and intelligence-gathering capabilities in an effort to analyze data trends to execute predictive measures to thwart terrorist attack or criminal activity. Essentially, fusion creates a union of some type, a mixture or blending of two or more things.

The fusion center concept as it pertains to intelligence gathering has, at its core, the concept of collaboration. The definition the Web serves up for a “fusion center” is: “In intelligence usage, a physical location to accomplish fusion. It normally has sufficient intelligence automated data processing capability to assist in the process.”

Fusion centers started as a joint project by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

The New Jersey State Police have instituted a Fusion Center to assist the state’s urban security efforts. Richard Kelly, director, Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC), New Jersey State Police, describes the idea behind the fusion center concept and its operation in the Garden State: “The Regional Operations Intelligence Center is an ‘All Crimes-All Hazards-All Threats-All the Time’ state fusion center built upon a solid base of traditional state police support for county and municipal law enforcement, as well as our own field operations by the uniformed trooper. Our name says it all, wherein we marry up operations, such as the law enforcement and emergency management operations, and intelligence” 

Historically, the military model of command-and-control operations centers are deployed in emergency situations and one might think tend to run counter culturally to this open and collaborative communications example. However, the NJSP seem to have leveraged technology to blend the best practices of both operational methods together to aid in real time and disciplined collaboration among numerous local, state, national, and even international agencies.

“By being connected to the operational side of the house, we are able to maintain our statewide situational awareness. Our watch operations tell us what is happening in real time. We then apply our analysis component to tell us what it means, and then our asset deployment decides what we are doing about it. Our Information Technology Bureau is constantly building new capacity for us to be able to apply 21st Century technology to track and map our operational environment,” Kelly explains.

In fact the fusion center concept being deployed within urban security policy shares many goals with the corporate security teams working globally to collaborate and promote real time information exchange. Today Fortune 2000 organizations face new challenges when protecting the assets (physical, logical and human) of operational business units distributed worldwide. In a real sense the security officers in corporations and the public officials protecting our cities have much in common. Both are security organizations experiencing transformation. The globalization of corporate security and the urbanization of public security both rely on new technology to collaborate more effectively. Smart manufacturers and integrators will offer innovative network-based solutions to leverage opportunities to secure both corporate and urban environments.

One example of the synergies between public and private security was demonstrated during Hurricane Katrina.  In both Louisiana and Mississippi, public institutions and urban security broke down on multiple local, state and federal levels. During the disaster the private sector operated efficiently as companies like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Federal Express used their automated supply chains to deliver much-needed supplies and emergency services. Cisco Systems and telecommunications providers also set up mobile wireless communications command posts.

At the most basic physical security level, private firms like Blackwater joined the effort to secure the public buildings and protect the population from mass looting and violence, while lending a support role in rescuing stranded residents from rooftops. The point is that private corporations can be valuable in coordinating emergency services within urban security policy and with government agencies to respond to disasters. The security solutions utilized by private and public entities can be cross-sold to both markets and supported by security integrators. As both the Hurricane Katrina and NJSP Fusion Center examples clearly demonstrate, a core discipline for a security and emergency response solution to be proactive is the ability to share information in real time from a variety of disparate systems and sources.

The Future of Security

Urban security provides an example of how the traditional security industry is transforming and increasingly embracing real-time Web-based solutions. A fundamental understanding of IT infrastructure (IP networking) is the first requirement towards integrating multiple security solutions to address the challenges of securing large urban environments.

Understanding how prior applications (COMSTAT) have influenced current deployments (Fusion Centers) can provide integrators insight into future requirements. The ability to integrate multiple solutions (PSIM, wireless video analytics, access control and identity management, 3D, etc.) to provide proactive, real-time information sharing is essential to success. Nowhere is this more critical then when responding to emergency situations to protect the public.

Globalization and urbanization increase the risk scenarios that security professionals must address. Only the tight integration of security policy and information technology can provide the solution. Physical security manufacturers and integrators must step up to the challenge and be willing to design new products and learn new skill sets to provide solutions to secure our major cities and protect our citizens.

Sidebar: Video Analysis: Think 3D

For physical security manufacturers and integrators to succeed in the future, they will understand three fundamental issues: networking, integration and collaboration. It is all about sharing data and providing solutions with that principal in mind. A phased approach to implementing existing “legacy” systems and new digital-based technologies will provide consulting and product revenues on both the front and back end of these deployments.

Consider the changes occurring in the video surveillance segment. Still primarily coaxial cable and analog cameras, the market for video-based technologies is changing. Intelligent video analytics can replace or coexist with traditional perimeter security systems in remote areas. Outdoor sensor technologies, such as motion detectors, can be augmented to improve false alarm rates. Two-way audio capabilities in tandem with surveillance cameras and databases can complement sensors to provide a solution for remote outdoor security. Wireless networks and solar-powered satellite feeds can provide video anywhere to verify incidents and then track offenders with links to GPS systems.

The trend is toward visualization and includes video analytics integrated into various applications, as well as real-time 3D modeling for improved situational awareness, emergency response training, and building design to facilitate security planning.

Sidebar: PSIM Platforms: An Open Source Information Exchange

One new market emerging to answer this challenge has been categorized as PSIM (Physical Security Information Management). This enterprise software acts as a proactive collection point for all devices on the network generating information and provides a holistic view of security operations and their related interactions.

The Security Dreamer Web site (www.securitydreamer.com) defines PSIM as: Technologies and processes to collect, understand, and respond to data relevant for security. Products in this category variously offer aggregation, visualization, system control, incident response and reporting.

The PSIM model provides security manufacturers and integrators a vantage point into the future direction of a security industry in transformation. The various pieces of the PSIM puzzle include, but are not limited to, video surveillance and analytics, access control, identity management and biometrics, global positioning systems radio frequency technologies, as well as sensors involving a range of activities from perimeter fencing and object tracking, to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) detection. The core of executing these new security solutions requires a fundamental understanding of IT network infrastructure and open systems.

Sidebar: Web Collaboration: A Global Communications Requirement

Collaboration and the Internet go hand in hand. Collaborating among groups on shared objectives is one of the keys to improving response. The Internet, as part of the IT infrastructure, is an enabler to that process of collaboration. Starting with communications, the IT industry has moved to and standardized on the network communications standard TCP/IP or Ethernet for connectivity. The heart of this communications network is TCP/IP, a data-oriented standard procedure used for communicating information across a packet switched internetwork.

TCP/IP is made up of two acronyms, TCP, for Transmission Control Protocol, and IP, for Internet Protocol. TCP handles packet flow between systems and IP handles the routing of packets. The market acceptance of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has made the convergence of voice, video, and data a reality for business and security operations alike. The combination of these features across a robust IP infrastructure generates additional interest in developing new Web-based collaboration solutions.

An IP skill set is a requirement moving forward for security integrators interested in exploring the Web-based opportunities of the future. At the core of the Web services model will be a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), an environment that can simplify the integration of multiple systems and applications to communicate with one another in the background across the network. This is optimal when interconnecting to legacy data assets and applications. As network topologies advance, an understanding of these core networking protocols is essential to success.

Sidebar: Mesh Networks: Emergency Redundancy

Wikipedia describes Mesh Networks as: a communications network made up of radio nodes in which there are at least two pathways of communication to each node. The coverage area of the radio nodes working as a single network becomes a mesh cloud. Access to this mesh cloud is dependent on the radio nodes working in harmony with each other to create a radio network.

A key feature set of the mesh topology is that it offers redundancy, and as such is inherently reliable. Not one node on the network is adversely affected if another single point cannot operate. Communication continues directly or indirectly across the network of multiple communication points.

Wireless mesh architecture is a first step towards providing high-bandwidth network over a specific coverage area. Wireless mesh architecture’s infrastructure is compared with a router network minus the cabling between nodes. It’s built of peer radio devices that don’t have to be cabled to a wired port like traditional WLAN access points do. Mesh architecture sustains signal strength by breaking long distances into a series of shorter hops. Nodes act as repeaters to transmit data from nearby nodes to peers that are too far away to reach, resulting in a network that can span large distances, especially over rough or difficult terrain.

Mesh networks are also extremely reliable, as each node is connected to several other nodes. If one node drops out of the network, due to hardware failure or another reason, its neighbors simply find another route. Extra capacity can be installed by simply adding more nodes.

Mesh networks may involve either fixed or mobile devices. The solutions provide communications in difficult environments such as emergency situations, tunnels and oil rigs to battlefield surveillance and high-speed mobile video applications onboard public transport or real-time racing car telemetry. The most significant application for wireless mesh is VoIP.

One significant advantage is the ability to operate the entire mesh infrastructure centrally and cost effectively. Mesh networks are excellent platforms to deploy wireless networks for video surveillance as well as to provide temporary or portable capabilities in any emergency situation. The mesh provides standard Ethernet ports on every wireless node, so virtually any enterprise-grade IP camera can connect to the wireless mesh network.