Showing posts with label CCTV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CCTV. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly - The Tale of A Gun Store Robbery

I have A LOT to say about the video below. The video below is of a robbery of a Tampa, Florida gun store, Tampa Arms. The robbers made entry into the establishment by DRIVING A TRUCK THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR. Yeah, an entire pickup truck and made off with approximately FORTY firearms - Glock handguns, shotguns and AR-15 rifles. I heard that, by the way and I totally agree "Damn." The video lasts about five minutes and the quality is rough to say the least.

So, let's get to the good, the bad, and the utterly atrocious.

The Good

  1. There was video and it worked. I know. That's not saying an awful lot but...given my professional experience, this is very good. It appears to be a DIY install and the quality (we'll address that later) is well, crap. But it was positioned where it could capture the entirety of the event. It didn't - mostly, because the quality was crap. Did I mention the quality is crap?
The Ugly

  1. Did you notice I only had one "good" thing to note?
The Atrocious

  1. The quality is HORRIBLE. Holy smokes! Seriously, if you're going to install a camera over an entryway to capture theft, it should either ALWAYS have good lighting or have infrared lighting during hours of limited visibility (like when robberies are more likely to occur).

  2. The position of the camera sucks. Like it sucks REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad. When you're doing a DIY install, it is super-duper easy to miss what actual security professionals notice. Stuff like whether a camera is positioned at an angle to capture faces from multiple viewpoints. For example, the camera at the front doorway only caught the suspects' faces as they turned around. Perhaps, there should be a camera actually facing the door unobstructed. A simple test done in complete darkness after the install would have revealed what we now see - this video is useless.
  3. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER have firearms not locked in a secure container after store hours. Period. There is absolutely ZERO sound reasons why those weapons were out of containers. They need to be locked up. Remember the name of the game isn't just detection - there's delaying attackers as well.
  4. TEST YOUR SECURITY SYSTEM REGULARLY. The attackers had a lot of time on this particular robbery. This tells me either the alarm failed or notification was entirely too slow. Business owners should do monthly or quarterly checks with their alarm companies, to determine any issues. You should also have a good working relationship with your local police department. You store guns for crying out loud - the cops who patrol your area should have a working knowledge of your alarms and security measures.
  5. Conduct an annual vulnerability assessment. Take a moment once a year to walk through the business and see what vulnerabilities that need to be shored up. Don't think in terms of how you would hit your store. Instead, pay attention to areas that create ways for an attacker to gain access. Then, call a security consultant and have them walk you through what they see. It's also a really good idea to read industry standards pertaining to securing storefronts like yours. Tampa Arms had no excuse to not call a consultant. There's literally one around the corner and also internationally recognized, Stanley Security Solutions.

  6. Get a video alarm verification system. Had the alarms gone off, the front door sensors would have went off, surely. The motions may have caught multiple intruders too. Then again, if your installation was crap which it probably was, you may only get one of those sensors to go off. To cut down on false alarm fines (it's a HUGE deal in Tampa and probably why a system may not have been install if it wasn't) and to give responding law enforcement more situational awareness (cops respond a whole lot faster on alarms they know are legit), ask your alarm provider to talk to you about alarm verification. If they rely on you to respond or if they don't offer it, take this small piece of advice - consider a different provider.
  7. There were no physical barriers in front of the front entryway. You ever driven by a WalMart? Of course you have - you're American, probably. What's the first thing you notice in the front of most WalMarts? They have bollards by every entryway. Why is this? Take a look at the video below and you'll see why. Call the city, get a permit, dig in the ground, fill some metal pipes with concrete, and plant them in each hole. Problem solved. Also, check out the trees.

  8. Approximately, FIFTEEN people robbed these guys. Let that marinate. They brought multiple vehicles, had a plan, executed it, and were in uniforms. Yeah, this ain't their first rodeo. They'll hit more places. Forty guns is a great grab but the proceeds don't split that well among fifteen people and not with that much considerable risk. I know the area well where this happened and I know this shop. This was a team that knew their target and prepared for it. We'll see them again.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kenya Mall Shooting - Why It Went All Wrong & What We Can Do To Be Better

Yesterday, the New York City Police Department released a report from its SHIELD initiative about the Kenya mall shooting/terrorist attack. It was a pretty damning report to say the least. Before we talk about the report, let's talk about SHIELD is and why that's important to understand in the context of this report. SHIELD is the NYPD's homegrown information-sharing component with private sector security. It provides analysis on current and future threats. I've previously read some of SHIELD's reports. Some were good and some were typical of fusion center reports - some meat and some potatoes but not a full meal. This report was driven, in part, to go over what NYPD and private security could learn about what happened in Nairobi. There was plenty.

There were some startling revelations:
  1. Kenyan police were VASTLY outgunned. The report states, "The typical Uniformed Kenyan Police Officer is not as well equipped as their western counterparts, typically only carrying a long gun, most commonly an AK-47 style rifle with a folding stock, loaded with a single 30 round magazine. They do not carry handguns, wear body armor, gun belts or have portable radios to communicate." Each of the terrorist were carrying 250 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. Lack of body armor and radios to communicate resulted in fratricide. More on that later.
  2. Responding plainclothes officers were also outgunned and had no visible identification. Remember what I said about fratricide? From the report: "Very few of any of the plainclothes law enforcement first responders displayed any visible law enforcement identification such as a badge, arm band, ID card or  a raid jacket, making identification as “friend or foe” extremely difficult for other armed first responders."
  3. Realizing the police were outgunned, Kenya made the incident response a military matter. That's as bad as it sounds. The report says, "Kenyan government officials decide to transfer the handling of this incident from the police to the military. A squad of Kenya Defense Forces KDF soldiers enters the mall and shortly afterwards, in a case of mistaken identity, the troops fired on the GSU-RC Tactical Team.They kill one police officer and wounding the tactical team commander. In the ensuing confusion both the police and military personnel pull out of the mall to tend to the casualties and re-group."
  4. Responding military forces used an RPG-7 as a room clearing tool. I kid you not. And the destruction was insane. "It is reported that at some point during the day the Kenya Defense Forces decided to fire a high explosive anti-tank rocket (possibly a RPG-7 or an 84mm Recoilless Rifle) as part of their operation to neutralize the terrorists in the Nakumatt Super Market.The end result of this operation was a large fire and the partial collapse of the rear rooftop parking lot and two floors within the Nakumatt Super Market into the basement parking."
  5. It is possible the terrorists escaped in part because the Kenyan security forces failed to secure a perimeter. It is rather elementary for the very first thing Western police do in these scenarios is to lock down the perimeter. No one comes in or out unless they can be positively identified as a "friendly". This credentialing occurs by checking IDs and only first admitting law enforcement and first responders to exit upon verification.
  6. The mall employed unarmed officers who performed unsatisfactory "wand searches". This is irritating to say the least. Why? Unarmed officers are appropriate for certain environments and are the way to go in most environments. However, in high value targets, such as mass gathering locations in places like Kenya, I would have used an armed component. Armed officers are not only armed but can be equipped with radios and are usually uniformed. This makes identifying them for law enforcement somewhat easier. Also, armed officers can do things unarmed officers can't due to safety concerns such as locking down perimeters and evacuating victims.
  7. Wand searches are weak. I dislike them with a passion. Why? Officers get tricked into believing a search was "good" because the wand didn't annunciate. This is all kinds of bad. A search should be thorough in high value targets. If you're going to employ officers and have them search, have them be thorough and do it without a wand. I would use the wand only in environments where I had other search mitigators in place such as backscatters or X-ray search devices.

So what does this attack teach us in the West?
  1. The desire of terrorist groups to attack mass gathering locations is still very alive.
  2. Places like malls should consider Kenya to be a warning. If you're in mall security, I highly suggest going over your active shooter plan and rehearsing it on a fairly regular basis with local police departments and simulated shooters. In these exercise, test not just your ability to minimize casualties but to also test your security apparatus under stress. This is best accomplished by "killing" responders, taking hostages, attempting escape, and causing confusion among responders. Get your people used to chaos in these scenarios.
  3. Never do wand searches at high value targets and test your people regularly. I've gone over why I think wand searches are bad. So let's examine why you should test and train your searchers regularly. Searching is one of the most important yet often neglected security components. We usually pick rookies and the "lowest common denominator" to do this function because it's "easy". Doing good and thorough searches that you can go to sleep easy with at night are not easy. Searchers should be trained on subject "tells", physical characteristics of forbidden items by touch, sound, smell, and sight, the tools they can use to do searches better, etc. They should also be regularly "red-teamed" which is to say you should have a non-attributable person walk through security and see what they can get through. When they're done, they should report to management their findings.

    Here's a video I did on how I would search bags:

  4. CCTV and analytics are EXTREMELY important to an active shooter scenario. There are several takeaways from what we learned about CCTV and the lack of analytics in Nairobi. First, CCTV coverage was spotty in some areas. Also, the CCTV coverage was easily identified and avoided by the terrorists. We also know while they had remote viewing capability, it was five miles away and more than likely not cross-fed into the police. While a CCTV monitor can't identify every threat, video analytics can alert them to suspicious activity. At the very least, consider it an option.
  5. Garages and parking lots should be regularly patrolled. While there was a guard posted at the entrance of the garage, had a response element been closer by, they could have locked the exterior doors to the mall.
  6. Train your employees on how to sound the alarm and IMMEDIATELY lock down their storefronts and secure customers. I would consider including them as a part of your active shooter training as well. Make that mandatory training for all storefront management and their trusted employees. I would include it in a leasing agreement if I had to.
  7. Have a HIGHLY accessible public address system to sound the alarm.
  8. Train local non-law enforcement responders on the need to "shoot, move, and communicate". Seriously, I can't stress this enough. There is a huge debate in the US surrounding concealed carry permit holders as responders. I'm okay with them responding, though I prefer they receive some training on  the need to identify themselves to law enforcement prior to responding via a phone call if time and circumstance permit.
  9. Equip every security person and law enforcement officer with a radio.  If you want to avoid wasting your time clearing rooms that have already been cleared or fratricide, then you HAVE TO equip your responders with radios and share your frequencies with them.
  10. Train your personnel on reporting formats like SALUTE. We've covered this before so I won't bore you with the details.
  11. Train your security management personnel on casualty collection points, IED mitigation, cordons, perimeter searches, and periodic vulnerability assessments. These things can't be overstated in training. Trust me. You'll thank me for this later.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

VIDEO: Top 10 Home/Office Security Camera Considerations

So you're thinking about buying a camera system for your home or office. Great. Buying a camera or an alarm system demands that certain criteria be met before purchase in order for them to meet your security requirements. Many people ask if I like this camera or that camera. I often find myself asking each customer the same things.
  1. What exactly are you protecting and is it worth the hassle?
  2. How credible is the threat?
  3. Where do you want to place the camera?
  4. What kind of security will the camera have?
  5. What kind of video are trying to capture?
  6. Can you monitor it?
  7. Have you considered lighting?
  8. Have you considered distance to the subject? Height?
  9. What are your storage requirements?
  10. Will you be turning over what you capture to a third party? If so, does the device you're contemplating have the ability to transfer your video to another device?
As always, if you're stuck and don't know what to do, find a home security system provider in your area. Our partners at are an AWESOME resource. You can search for providers by zip code to determine who's the best in your area to consider. Well worth a look if you have a moment.

There are a ton of other considerations and things you can ponder on. So I put together the video above explaining my thoughts on what considerations if any you take a look into. As always, feel free to give any feedback particularly if I missed something.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The CRAZIEST Security-Related Kickstarter Project I've Ever Seen

Every now and then, I run across a few advertisements for security products that have me scratching my head.  Unfortunately, most of them are surveillance cameras.  Whether it be their shaky claims on screen resolution or storage on various media, the ads are very "sketchy" to say the least.  Today's gem comes from Kickstarter, the largest crowdsourcing site where entrepreneurs solicit average Internet users to become "angels" for their products.  They entice you with everything from prototypes to trips to their factories.  Most are really good and some aren't so good.

The product's creator made several mistakes:
  • The product is extremely outdated.  The first lesson you learn in sales is to appeal to your prospect's "pain" - the one thing that is a constant concern that will drive them to your product.  Having DVRs stolen is a concern for some businesses.  If your suspect knows what he/she is looking for, they might looking to steal the DVR.  However, if that's a true concern, most businesses will ask that the video be stored off-site or have the DVR installed somewhere secure.  Several companies in the installation/integration business already do this.  
  • The inventor claims to solve the "stolen DVR" issue by "creating a secure video stream to an off-site server, safely located far from the premises and accessible only to you." Again, that's already done by several companies and often add video surveillance inexpensively as part of their package deals.
  • They also claim if their "DVR gets stolen during a theft, you can access the video stream from anywhere in the world for up to 60days, completely FREE of charges. This is a turn-key system requiring virtually NO maintenance, securely storing video 24 hours, 7 days a week."  Why am I paying for DVR if you're storing off-site and I can access the video from anywhere?

Perhaps the worst mistake ANY entrepreneur on Kickstarter can make is offering nothing in return.  For giving them $500 or more (oh you read that right), you get:
Complete plans to setup the system, including step by step instructions that will create and store 24/7 security video coverage securely online FREE that can be retrieved from any computer for up to 60 days.
You're going to give me plans?! For $500, all I get is plans.  Folks, I already know what this was.  It was an attempt to make a really quick buck.  The duration they set for funding this little "project" was 30 days.  No worries because my fellow Netizens recognized the lunacy and criminality behind such a solicitation.  No one funded this scam.  I should have known something was up when I looked at the creator's other projects.  His latest project was a documentary on "A rather large insect-looking "Inviso-Bug" flying off of my deck. These are invisible to the naked eye, only show up under infra-red. I have hours of exclusive video of SWARMS of things around me and am unable to see them or hear them at all!" Gotta love crazy people....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Midtown Assassination: Smile! You're on camera.

A young man was brutally murdered in New York City by way of what many in the media and even law enforcement have deemed a "professional hit".  It was called a "professional hit" mainly due to the pre-hit surveillance on the target and the manner of execution.  However, there are some glaring errors I believe will lead to the killer(s) and co-conspirator's capture.  

I'm not sure how much many of you know about the assassination "business".  To say the least, as a lay person myself, I can only guess there would be some rules of the trade.  Let me share a few that I think would be important:
  1. Always be aware of your surroundings.  In order to be a successful "hit man", you need to have the element of surprise and concealment.  You need surprise so your target doesn't become alerted to what you're trying to do (i.e. killing them).  If you're a person hired to kill someone, I'm imagining it would be bad for your target to turn around and see you carrying a pistol and getting ready to kill them.  Typically, a "hit man" would need concealment as well so there aren't any potential witnesses who could give away their activity to the target or the authorities.  So can someone explain to me how this "professional" killer didn't take note of the closed circuit television camera and the numerous car a few feet away?  The last thing any "professional" wants is to get caught on tape.  Last I checked, murder for hire is capital offense.
  2. Never do a "hit" on a busy street or in plenty of light.  The way most CCTV cameras work is by using ambient and low-level light to illuminate the images they're capturing.  Most burglars know this - thus why they do what they do at night and in low light.  If I'm to believe what my eyes are showing me above, there are several shadows which appear to be pedestrian feet somewhere in the northern quadrant of this photo.  I can also make out the victim and the killer's face.  Again, another huge no-no for any "professional hit man".
  3. Never allow your escape to be captured on video or by witnesses.  Witness reports are emerging that people saw the killer do the "hit" and noted a probable get-away vehicle which has since been discovered.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's about to happen next if not already.  The vehicle will be inventoried and searched for any evidence to include fingerprints and trace evidence left by the "hit man".  Also, take a few moments and imagine how this could have panned out had some hapless witness saw this and blocked the sedan from leaving.
  4. Don't wait at the scene for 30 minutes outside of where you're going to meet the target.  Yup.  That's what this idiot did.  He waited for 30 minutes outside acting very suspicious.  He was seen pacing back and forth by the sedan that was later recovered.  In case you weren't aware, New York is home to some of the most aggressive police in the Western world.  So having a loaded pistol and seen pacing back and forth while waiting for your target is probably not what you want to do.  Below is surveillance footage released by the suspect as he's seen walking and hanging out by his getaway vehicle.  

So what does this mean for those of us in security and law enforcement?

  • There is an increased level of violence and brazen violent activity by organized crime and other nefarious organizations that use this methodology.  We need to do a better job of educating and encouraging more citizens to report suspicious activity.  We need more foot patrols in our urban areas.  We need to encourage proactive private security elements to be on the look out for suspicious activity and report it to police as soon as possible.

What this case does demonstrate is a very important lesson for all of us:
  • Report any and all suspicious activity.  There is no harm with having a police officer come out and investigate the nature of your suspicion.  That's their job.  No one wants to be a snitch but a man brought a weapon into a neighborhood where anyone could have been a collateral victim.  Having the homicide detectives show up two hours later is not the way to keep your street safe.  Call it in.  If you don't want to get involved and just need to make the initial report so someone will come out, make the call and tell the operator you don't want to give your name.  Explain you'll make a statement if it turns into something where a serious crime has been committed.  Many time the police may not need you to make a statement.  One call to the police could have spared this young man's life.  Now we'll never know.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

INFOGRAPHIC: Is Big Brother Watching You, Europe?

I made the inforgraph below to highlight for those who may be unaware the growing prevalence of CCTV systems throughout Europe.  I was somewhat surprised Oslo was only short 1 percent from tying London as having the most, considering London's known onslaught of surveillance systems.  Though the data is somewhat out of date and certainly not concrete, it is interesting when we remember those numbers have probably increased a great deal and have become much more diverse in their sophistication and development.  I (and so should you) would be curious if those numbers slowed down with the economic downturn experienced throughout most of Europe.  My guess is not as much as one would assume, given that CCTV systems have gotten less expensive and much more easily installed since this report came out.  I have attached the report for your perusal.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Government Insecurity: How Many Attack Vectors Do You See?

How many attack vectors do you see on this door? Not surprising, this door is an exterior door outside a government building which does a lot of cash transactions in a high crime area with minimal natural observers and limited lighting. In addition, there were zero cameras. I was able to stand by the door and watch loads of people use this door with the code for entry.  There were several wedge marks on the frame.  Through the window on the door, you can see the cash registers and other sensitive equipment.  What else do you see?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MUST SEE TV: Off the Grid

I, normally try my best not to get overly excited about new television shows especially new security-related shows.  Either they're too good and "jump the shark" by doing something completely unrealistic or actually very real life.  However, when I first glimpsed at an article about a show called Off The Grid, I was having difficulty controlling the copious amounts of drool pooling around my feet.  What's the show about you ask?  According to Security Info,  the premise behind it is "that the two contestants win a million dollars if they can remain hidden from the surveillance experts for a single day, while completing a few essential tasks in downtown Los Angeles".  Not drool-worthy - I know.  People hide in a city and are pursued by non-threatening "experts".  Not real exciting because we've seen this done before - HORRIBLY.  However, here's why the salivation began:
Armed with only very basic information about the two contestants, a team of surveillance experts led by human tracking expert Kevin Reeve, is tasked with learning enough about the contestants to find where they might be and then to go out and actually bring them in. At Kevin's disposal are Rob (an experienced hacker) and Matt (a proven corporate security IT specialist). These guys can infiltrate your cell phone, gain access to public records information and generally put the digital eye on you. Also on the team is Dave, a former Navy SEAL who works a day job training SEAL teams in California. They're exactly the four guys you wouldn't want tracking you in an urban environment.

And the drool accumulates right about here:

As for the security industry, you'll recognize a number of technologies used in the surveillance. There are cameras from Axis Communications and FLIR, UAVs used for video surveillance, facial recognition technology, Ostendo surveillance monitors, mapping technology, advanced mobile communications from Skype, Pelican's tough "go cases", a mobile command unit, and high-end server technology for integrating all the tracking and personnel information that the pursuit team generates.
"We're selling that this is real technology used by the DoD world," said Ebersol. "It is incredibly important for us to be authentic; it's not the Jack Bauer version of technology."
When does it start?  December 7, 2011 at 11pm ET.  Crappy time slot.  Oh well.

Here's a trailer:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why is my Walmart more protected than my kid's preschool?

Walmart has the lowest prices in town on a lot of items.  This is probably because they're often the only store in some towns.  Recently, I took my son to my local Walmart and began to notice the amount of exterior cameras that were there.  I counted 45!  Then, I began to think of how many must be inside and I remembered seeing they had a roving vehicle patrol contracted to a major security company.  That's when it hit how serious these guys are about their stuff during holiday shopping season or any season for that matter.  Geezo.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FREE CCTV Training

Closed circuit television systems are in just about every corner of the globe and monitor a huge portion of our lives.  It has been argued, since their inception, we allow them greater access to us than most people we know intimately.  If you have anything to do with security, these cameras and the software which accompany can also be part of your daily work life.   Often times, in security, it is difficult finding free online training on any particular topic especially the fundamentals of CCTV systems.  

Thankfully, the folks at IP Video Market Info were kind of enough to create a blog post which contains hyperlinks to 
"series of videos from Pelco that provide strong coverage of these fundamentals (note: you can download the videos from Pelco's site as well).
The focus of this series is on traditional CCTV.  To complement this, you should read guides on IP video surveillance. Two in-depth guides are available - Axis's Technical Guide to Network Video and Vivotek's IP Video Surveillance Handbook.
Finally, review our tutorials directory for dozens of resources introducing video surveillance and our free Video Surveillance Book."
Did I mention this was FREE training?  Who doesn't like "free" anything particularly when its offered by the guys behind the machines?  What a great starting point to learn more about these systems and how to operate, install, and manage them.

Feel free to check out the rest of the article and training they have available at: 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top 10 MORE Questions To Ask Your Prospective Alarm Company

Not too long ago, fresh out the military, I was an alarm system salesman.  It was a wonderful learning experience that taught me many things.  One of those lessons was "All security companies are not created equal."  People assume, like they do with all major purchases, the most popular or cheaper brand is in fact the better brand.  The majority of the time they learn this is not case.  So, I decided to post some questions for prospective customers to ask when they begin their search for a security company.  (Please note this doesn't just apply to alarm systems.  You can apply these questions to camera systems, access control, locks, etc.)
  1. What areas will this alarm system not cover?  There is an implied belief among some customers that an alarm system protects their entire property.  Have you ever considered what would happen if someone broke into your neighbor's store and punched a hole in the drywall you share?  Do you have a sensor that will pick up the noise or vibration?  Chances are you don't.  The problem with modern security systems is they advertise exactly where you have coverage and where you don't.  Don't believe me?  Walk into a small storefront and notice how many infrared sensors you set off.
  2. What's your apprehension rate in my area?  This is particularly important if you're in an area where burglaries happen a lot.  If someone breaks into nearby businesses who use the popular name brand security service without getting caught, should you be buying from them?
  3. What's your response time to service issues?  What happens if some drunk rams his car into a nearby power pole and kills your alarm system?  Does your system have battery backup until service is restored?  If not, how soon can your company arrive to remedy the issue?
  4. How much do you charge per service calls?  Some companies make a living by selling a crappy installation and billing you every time it breaks and they have to come out and fix it.  You want a company with a good reputation for service and who makes house calls on the cheap.
  5. Can I cancel at anytime?  One of my first sales lead I had was a lady who was opening up a small Internet cafe.  She knew she had a need for the system but was concerned about our price and contract obligation.  The economy was rough and she, like many small business owners, didn't know if she would be in business for 5 days let alone 5 years.  Pick a company who is sympathetic to that.
  6. Are you developing original product lines or selling me something made by the lowest bidder?  I can't tell you how many companies I see selling all sorts of "new groundbreaking technologies" that were developed by a previous competitor just marketed differently.  If they'll lie about the product's origins, they'll lie about anything.
  7. Can I manage my account all in one place online?  Some of you aren't real tech savvy nor like to handle business online.  I totally understand that and encourage you to do what's comfortable for you.  However, if you like doing everything online as much as possible, inquire if they offer online account management.  If you're responsible for a large system and want to track multiple alarms or trouble alerts, it would be extremely helpful to have this capability.
  8. What kind of redundancy do you have for your alarm centers?  Do they transfer alarm monitoring to another facility if the original is affected by natural disaster?  Wouldn't it be a shame if where your building is at there are sunny skies, but the alarm center which is another state several thousand miles away was hit by a blizzard with no power for weeks?  What happens to your alarms?
  9. How much familiarization do your sales personnel get with the product?  Wouldn't you hate being sold a car the car dealer never drove?  How can someone tell you about the quality of their installation and service components if they've never seen them in action?  I would be highly impressed by any company who had new sales personnel going out on these calls with their experienced technicians.
  10. What separates you from everyone else?  Most salesmen will attempt to answer this but usually fail.  Why?  Because they're focused on what their company told them makes them different.  If he or she gives you an honest answer such as "We charge a higher price", he's good to go because he'll follow up with "You get what you pay for in life.  If you want a free root canal, I could give it to you but you won't sleep easy.  We charge more because we're worth more.  We provide better service, a better product that we developed, and a commitment to protecting your business rain or shine.  It took you a while to build this business.  We want to ensure you have a while to enjoy it."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Captain, we are being hailed....

It isn't every day you get to look at the future.  One day in October, I did just that.  It all started with a Tweet during ASIS 2011 regarding behavioral analytics.  I was somewhat curious as to what it was and so I chimed in asking questions.  Normally, when you start asking questions about a product, you don't expect the company to "follow" you on Twitter.  Well, BRS Labs did just that.

Curious as to what behavioral analytics was and why BRS Labs thought it would revolutionize the security industry, I requested an interview.  Boy, am I glad I did because they didn't put me in contact with a PR minion.  Nope.  I spoke with the CEO and founder, Ray Davis, a pioneer in the tech sector.  According to the company's website, "In 2000, when the Dot.coms of the era struggled to deliver a cost-effective operating system for the Internet, Mr. Davis invented the only viable method to deliver computer applications online. With the technology built and patented, Simdesk Technologies delivered Office applications over the Internet at a staggering 20 million users per server, a benchmark that has never been matched."

Good afternoon, Mr. Davis.  It is an honor to speak with you.  I have some very general questions to ask about BRS and behavioral analytics.  Would you please tell us what behavioral analytics is?

Thanks, Scriven.  Let's first start off by explaining how this all came about.  Over the years, the security industry has developed and marketed what we term as "rules-based analytics".  What that entails is programming a CCTV system to alert an operator of a violation of a prescribed set of "rules" in its view.  It operates like a traditional "trip wire".  If the camera detects a pattern inconsistent with the users prescribed set of allowed patterns, it alerts the operator.  The industry went to this model because it realized the unrealistic expectation that an operator could stare at numerous screens for hours on end and reliably analyze various data streams.

There are problems with this, though.  Installation costs in regards to "man hours" are high.  It can take hours or days to setup each camera with each set of "rules".  Additionally, they are also high maintenance costs as well.  If the camera moves, then you have to change the rules all over again.  Perhaps the biggest drawback is in "real world" situations it can cause missed or false alarms.  In other words, you can have a false alarm generated by a normal nonthreatening event.  This is an issue because as the event occurs over and over again the amount of false alarms increase and eventually the operator could begin to ignore any alarm from that camera thinking any alarm could be a false one.

Obviously, the industry needed a better solution.  So at BRS Labs, we began to look for ways to make the system smarter and more adaptable to change.  The only way to make the system smarter was artificial intelligence.  (ATTENTION READERS:  This is where it gets COOL!!)  We created what is called an "artificial neural network" which could understand the "behavior" of an object and create the video into a computer language.  It generates "memories" over a period of time.  Rules-based systems are never as good as the first day.  With behavioral analytics, it is dramatically different because the system is always learning and adapting.

Me (a HUGE Star Trek fan attempting to control my drool):  Did you just say "artificial neural network"?  You just made this Trekkie's day.

As we developed this product, I often teased my children I was working to help create the "Big Brother" computer in the movies.

What are some of the pros and cons of doing this sort of tech in the security industry?

For starters, video analytics takes any where from 5 hours to 40 days to install per camera.  It takes behavioral analytics two weeks to learn.  After that, it never has to learn a new set of "rules" or patterns.  It literally studies the behavior of the objects in view and determines what is abnormal and what is not.  Traditional analytics generates approximately 1,500 false alarms whereas our system generates 1 alert on average per day.  After 30 to 60 days, it gets to less than one per day.  You can move a camera and not have to change to a different set of rules.  It will actively learn and adapt to its new "environment" or view.

What are some of the challenges you faced when developing this system?

First, you have to understand nothing like this had ever been attempted.  The challenges were massive.  Since no one had ever undertaken something like this, we had to start from "scratch".    Once we converted video into a programming language, the biggest challenge was developing a quality control for the product.  It had to be tested and the "kinks" worked out before its launch.  Because we are a software driven organization we took this approach.

Who have been some of its earliest adopters and what is the future of this technology?

One of our earliest customers was a major hotel in Bali who needed a system that could detect abnormal behavior.  This is significant because we were approached after the terrorist attacks there.  The customer was expecting to detect terrorists.  They got more than that.  Our system because it's constantly learning what is normal and what is not can detect any abnormal behavior.  In Bali, it was looking at an entrance and detected a security deficiency.  It saw several people bypassing a security checkpoint without being challenged or detected by the security personnel.

Given its ability to detect such abnormalities, we have been approached by Defense agencies to develop a way for our product to exist within unmanned aerial vehicles.

Me (having more difficulty controlling drool):  Did you just say "unmanned aerial vehicles"?

The system can look at video of regardless where its taken and "learn" if anything in it view has changed and alert operators on the ground.  The applications are boundless.

Me:  Mr. Davis, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me.  This is perhaps the coolest thing I've heard affecting our industry possibly in the last 10 years.

Here's a video of the system in action:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Really, really excited....

Sorry, it's been so long folks but I've been a bit busy this week.  For starters, my request to test and evaluate products sold by Victory Defense was granted and we'll be taking a look at a few gadgets with security applications.  One such gadget is a tactical flashlight with video and audio recording capability!  Now, do you see why I'm so excited? Secondly, we'll have articles about behavioral video analytics versus rules-based analytics.  If you've been following my Twitter feed, you probably noticed I was quite curious about the difference between the two and what failures behavioral analysis has.  I'm going to attempt to get a hold of someone at BRS Labs the company on the forefront of behavioral analytics to discuss this more.  We'll also have a commentary on what I perceive to be the most prevalent source of failure in any security program.  I conducted a poll on LinkedIn about a month ago regarding this very issue and the responses I got were quite surprising and enlightening in many respects.  Finally, I also hope to have an interview with an Executive Protection agent to discuss their journey into the field, the types of projects they've done, and where they see this subsection of our industry going.  As an added bonus, I'll be publishing a video on last week's topic on proper ways to search/inspect bags in a security environment.  As you can see, I've been a bit busy getting content.  It is my goal to move towards more original content.   So stay tuned and welcome back to The Security Dialogue.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now, You Know Why I Have Issues With Doctors

Jacksonville Police are looking for a guy who's been posing as a doctor at Wolfson Children's Hospital. To make matters worse, the guy was seen walking in the operating room. Wow, talk about a lawsuit!

The man was stopped because he smelled of alcohol and proceeded to leave once he realized his cover was about to be blown.

The following is a bit disturbing:
Later that day, an employee found the black computer bag the man was seen carrying. The bag was under a car in the parking garage and contained everything the man was seen wearing in the surveillance video, including a badge from Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center with a picture of a young child that was cut out and taped on the badge.

“That in and of itself shows you that this persons possibly was up to something but maybe his attempt was foiled,” Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ken Jefferson said.
The last comment by the spokesman was a bit disturbing because usually people don't impersonate professionals like doctors if they're not up to something. So how did he get access? He used the usual items like a medical coat, a badge, a stethoscope and a clipboard. I swear i you need to get into building in the world all you need is a clipboard and an ID badge.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Finally...Some Good news

It looks like the TSA has found something other than actor Dennis Farina's gun. Shemeka Greaves, a TSA officer at O'Hare International Airport, read a newspaper account about Janisia Grant, 8, who had disappeared with her mother a week ago Thursday, the TSA said in a news release.

According to the article, "Greaves checked the security tapes and confirmed that Janisia had been through an airport security checkpoint and boarded a plane to Atlanta with a companion, the TSA said. "

As you might imnagine, Grant's mother does not have custody of the child.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Border Security via RoboCop

Below is a video of Guardium, an autonomous observation and target intercept system, developed by IAI/Lahav is based on the M-Guard unmanned security vehicle (USV) which can be operated from a command center, carry out routine patrols and quickly respond to evolving emergencies. According to the Defense Update, which is an online international defense magazine,
They can suppress suspicious elements close to the perimeter, and hold them back until manned security forces arrive, or use various forceful means to eliminate the threat, if applicable.

The M-Guard autonomous vehicle uses the TomCar chassis. The vehicle is equipped with an automated tactical positioning system and can operate autonomously on and off road, at speeds up to 80 km/h. The vehicle can carry a payload of up to 300 kg, including light armor shield to protect vital systems. The USV can carry a wide variety of sensors, including video and thermal cameras, with auto-target acquisition and capture, sensitive microphone, powerful loudspeakers and two way radio.

The vehicle can also be equipped with lethal or less than lethal weapons which can be directed and operated from the Main Control Center (MCC). A fleet of USV sentries is controlled from the MCC, from where they are launched on routine patrols, ambushes or operating in response to events received from an early warning or perimeter defense system.

The MCC is also provided with automatic tactical area definition, by terrain, doctrine and intelligence, which assist in preparation of the operational planning and programming for USVs. Each USV can also be manually controlled by remote control.

Virtual Fence Prototype...going...going..gone

According to Security Management, DHS is dismantling its prototype virtual fence. If you remember, the GAO told Congress the $20 million project was not completely functional or effective. According to the report, sensors gave false positives on wildlife and debris and the system was slow at catching some illegal crossers.

The virtual fence project is an $8 billion Secure Border Initiative, called SBInet, which aims to harden the nation's border by networking traditional barriers, vehicles, sensors and agents.

Although controversial, DHS is still proclaiming this was just a prototype and heralded its assistance in over 3,000 captures.

Friday, March 28, 2008

CCTV Camers, Crime, and San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle has written an article about a recent study at UC Berkly of SF's 60 CCTV cameras. Researchers looked at over 59, 000 crimes which occurred within 1, 000 feet of cameras between 1 January 2005 to 28 January 2008. What I found ironic was the discovery that the researchers found most violent crime around the cameras at 250 feet or less had decreased. The further you went away from the cameras the more crime. Wow. That's a novel concept. I'm not saying the researchers were inept at understanding basic criminal methodology but this does seem a bit odd.

Even odder was this comment in the article:

The only cameras' only positive effect appears to be the 22 percent drop in property crime within 100 feet of the cameras, though people broke into cars parked near the cameras at the same rate as they did before the cameras were installed, according to the study released today.

I'm not a fan of technology being a "save-all" in crime prevention but I find it very incredulous that a non-criminal justice professional would not understand the positive effect CCTV's have when properly utilized. Again, I go back to my previous statements about CCTV systems; They are only as good their operators and the money and expertise to maintain and upgrade then.

Crime relocation is not the same as crime prevention . By moving, it does provide some areas enough time to rebound and bring back positive ideas, people, and activities. So just because crime moved doesn't mean that was necessarily a bad thing. I'm sure the residents and cops who live and/or work on those streets where the crime moved from would tell you they welcome the break.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

Do you ever have one of those conversations where you come up with a pretty remarkable revelation? I had such a revelation yesterday with my wife. We were discussing how good we both were at "hide and go seek". I'm sure we all discovered sooner or later it was much better to hide somewhere close to our "seekers" and in a place they would normally overlook. In other words, you have to "hide in plain sight". That thought found me no matter where I went this weekend. Getting a new birth certificate, burning your fingerprints, or playing dead seems a bit much like a semi-decent Hollywood movie. But the lessons are the same. Disguises don't work. Nothing works if you can't find a way to hide your real identity while you try to live your life as normal.

I know most of my security aficionados are probably somewhere asking, "Where's he going with this? And why discuss this in a public forum?". My answer to them is we should talk about this in the open because the bad guys already know what I'm telling you. In order to win at the proverbial game of "hide and go seek" in the security world, we must first think like our "hiders" and become much "seekers". For example, if you operate a CCTV system and need to know how to spot shoplifters and other rogue parties, I would begin to look at the ways in which they often try to appear as normal as possible such as dress and appearance, behavior, and demeanor. If you get a guy in an aisle who's trying his best to appear normal when in fact he is far from it, then hopefully you'll recognize this is as a "critical indicator".

I've attached a video I thought was relevant to this topic. Most fugitives evade capture by learning how to camouflage themselves with multiple behavioral patterns which suit their new identities. In the security disciplines, we find this sort of subterfuge with spies and terrorists. In order to gain the advantage, we must learn what mistakes someone like this would make. Maybe, their behavior will lead us to believe something is not quite right. Good cops know what these mistakes look like. If you've been to any escape and evasion course, you know this is one of the first things they teach. If you don't have this skill, might I recommend a good game of "hide and go seek" with your favorite five year old. I know it sounds strange but the games we play as children always come back to us as adults.

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