PSIM Creates Safe Harbor for Long Beach Port

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Physical security information management is security centerpiece for second-busiest U.S. port

When was the last time a blue whale or school of dolphins triggered a security situation in your command-and-control center?

A migrating whale wandering into port is just one of the many situations the security division at the 3,200-acre Port of Long Beach, Calif., (shown in aerial photo-click to enlarge) Aerial POLB.jpg has to be ready for in a day's work. The Port, which generates about 30,000 jobs in the Long Beach area, is the second busiest port in the U.S., handling cargo valued at more than $140 billion in 2008.  Ensuring smooth port operations and satisfied and secure customers means exchanging security data with tenants, monitoring millions of metric tons of freight each month, managing a railyard, controlling port access by hundreds of truck drivers.

In addition, the Port sits in the middle of Long Beach and is committed to maintaining good relations with the city. Events such as its upcoming Green Port Fest also reflect the Port's dedication to being environmentally sensitive--a requirement that directly affects its security tools.

Toward a Security Management Platform

According to the Port's statistics, it has increased security personnel by more than 40 percent and its security-related spending by more than half a million dollars since Sept. 11, 2001. It also has received $92 million in grant money since then.

With these grant funds coming in, the Port "figured it made sense to have a security management platform," said Michael McMullen, lead program manager for the Port's Security Division. The platform would need to encompass a variety of traditional security systems, such as existing access control and video surveillance, as well as some very port-specific systems, including radar and sonar.

Further, a new command-and-control building had been on the drawing boards since 2005. It originally was planned at 6,000 square feet but incoming director of security Cosmo Perrone envisioned a much larger facility. Eventually, pilings were driven into landfill for a three-story, $21 million, 25,000 square foot center. (Artist's rendering depicted-click to enlarge.)
commandcenter.jpg McMullen and staff moved into the facility in November 2008; the new systems were installed there in January 2009.

PSIM in Action

The Port installed a physical security information management (PSIM) platform, Surveillint, from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proximex Corp. Many of the Port's different security systems feed data into Surveillint, which correlates and cross-references the data streams to flag emerging situations.

The systems integrated via PSIM today include Verint's Nextiva video management system. In addition, video from that system as well as tenant-owned surveillance systems is shared through a Genetec web portal. Other integrated systems include security business solutions and dispatch software from iView Systems; Lenel Systems' OnGuard access control and credentialing system; radar from SSR Engineering; sonar by Kongsberg Defense Corp.; a mass notification system by Everbridge; an all-hazard alert AM radio station; and electronic communication signs throughout the Port.

Still being added are 35 more cameras and a port-wide public address system.

Page:   1   2   3   4  Next  »

Physical security information management is security centerpiece for second-busiest U.S. port

When was the last time a blue whale or school of dolphins triggered a security situation in your command-and-control center?

A migrating whale wandering into port is just one of the many situations the security division at the 3,200-acre Port of Long Beach, Calif., (shown in aerial photo-click to enlarge) Aerial POLB.jpg has to be ready for in a day's work. The Port, which generates about 30,000 jobs in the Long Beach area, is the second busiest port in the U.S., handling cargo valued at more than $140 billion in 2008.  Ensuring smooth port operations and satisfied and secure customers means exchanging security data with tenants, monitoring millions of metric tons of freight each month, managing a railyard, controlling port access by hundreds of truck drivers.

In addition, the Port sits in the middle of Long Beach and is committed to maintaining good relations with the city. Events such as its upcoming Green Port Fest also reflect the Port's dedication to being environmentally sensitive--a requirement that directly affects its security tools.

Toward a Security Management Platform

According to the Port's statistics, it has increased security personnel by more than 40 percent and its security-related spending by more than half a million dollars since Sept. 11, 2001. It also has received $92 million in grant money since then.

With these grant funds coming in, the Port "figured it made sense to have a security management platform," said Michael McMullen, lead program manager for the Port's Security Division. The platform would need to encompass a variety of traditional security systems, such as existing access control and video surveillance, as well as some very port-specific systems, including radar and sonar.

Further, a new command-and-control building had been on the drawing boards since 2005. It originally was planned at 6,000 square feet but incoming director of security Cosmo Perrone envisioned a much larger facility. Eventually, pilings were driven into landfill for a three-story, $21 million, 25,000 square foot center. (Artist's rendering depicted-click to enlarge.)
commandcenter.jpg McMullen and staff moved into the facility in November 2008; the new systems were installed there in January 2009.

PSIM in Action

The Port installed a physical security information management (PSIM) platform, Surveillint, from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proximex Corp. Many of the Port's different security systems feed data into Surveillint, which correlates and cross-references the data streams to flag emerging situations.

The systems integrated via PSIM today include Verint's Nextiva video management system. In addition, video from that system as well as tenant-owned surveillance systems is shared through a Genetec web portal. Other integrated systems include security business solutions and dispatch software from iView Systems; Lenel Systems' OnGuard access control and credentialing system; radar from SSR Engineering; sonar by Kongsberg Defense Corp.; a mass notification system by Everbridge; an all-hazard alert AM radio station; and electronic communication signs throughout the Port.

Still being added are 35 more cameras and a port-wide public address system.

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Surveillint monitors these disparate data streams, and using rules predefined by McMullen's team, alerts security analysts in the command-and-control center to developing situations. They may then manage responses from a single monitor, with Surveillint prompting them with lists of action items. Officers may also choose to control responses manually.

Creating the "concept of operations" was the first step to this end, McMullen said. This process was made easier by the fact his team members each had twenty-plus years of security experience and knew the individual systems well. "We understand these types of alarms get a certain level of attention," he said.

The team sat with the harbor patrol, analysts and the technology team and defined 25 "conop" situations. They continue to spend an hour a week going over these and reviewing the uses of the software.

Command-and-control center staff dispatch Harbor Patrol officers and notify other agencies, including the Coast Guard and city of Long Beach, with whom the Port contracts for emergency services.  The Command and Control Center itself houses not just the Port's Security Division, but also units from the Long Beach Police Department, Port of Los Angeles, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Personnel and Environmental Issues

Staffing the command-and-control center required the creation of new job positions, McMullen said. Having decided the Harbor Patrol officers were better suited to patrolling than monitoring, the implementation team went to the Civil Service and created a security analyst position. Responsibilities in the new job description included dispatching duties plus managing security systems.  

Contract employees currently hold these positions, but McMullen expected to fill the positions with Long Beach city employees in the next three to four months.

The Port's commitment to environmentally safe practices also created some challenges for the security programs and led to some unusual "event" parameters, McMullen said. The command-and-control center itself is a "green" building, with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

BirdsPOLB.jpgBecause the Port is in the path of migratory birds, it had to hire an environmental agency to test and monitor one of the radar site's impact on the flocks. All cameras also are deployed with spiked bird reflectors.

Similarly, it took the Port two-and-a-half years to identify environmentally friendly yet strategic locations for deploying its sonar system. In addition, special analytics had to be added to detect the presence of mammals, such as the blue and Pacific Gray whales that migrate through nearby waters, coming into the Port. When this occurs, the devices throttle back, lest their pinging confuse the mammals' internal navigation systems. The event also sets off an alarm in Surveillint, alerting an operator to monitor and control the sonar devices.

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Spreading the Security Around

Security is a major component of the Port's strategic business plan, with a key goal being to connect security systems operated by the Port with those owned and managed by Port tenants as well as other Port-based law enforcement bodies like the Coast Guard. The PSIM platform is already helping to achieve some of this connectivity.

For instance, the Port's shipping tenants--including Hanjin, Maersk, Matson--are responsible for monitoring their own premises, which they do with video surveillance and access control systems. (Hanjin pier photo-click to enlarge.)
Hanjin.jpg
"Rather than us put in cameras, our tenants can look at the Port's video and we bring in their video feeds through the [Genetec] portal," McMullen said. The portal is part of the PSIM integration.  "At the end of the day, we all get better coverage."

In addition, the Port is laying 35 miles of fiber optic cable, which will eventually connect with the Port of Los Angeles' fiber project, which while funded, is not yet under way, said McMullen. The Port of Long Beach's fiber ring "lets us pull wireless activities onto a more dependable network," he said. He noted that while 80 percent of the Port's cameras are wireless and that network is 90 percent dependable, situations do arise in which interference mars the video, such as a cruise ship coming into port that didn't shut down its radar.

The 10GB fiber pipe is completely private; as it passes tenant facilities, the Port will drop connectivity to them. According to the Port of Long Beach's Strategic Plan, "this fiber optic backbone will improve our ability to exchange data with the City of Long Beach and port tenants and allow all of the security, closed circuit television surveillance, sensor, radar, sonar, and access control point systems within the port complex to be integrated into a single, shared system."

Similarly, each Port tenant is responsible for determining what individuals may access its premises. To move through the Port without an escort, a person must have a Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) card, issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program. As of June 2009, more than 37,000 TWIC cards had been issued in the Port area, according to a Port fact sheet.

The Port also is spending $7.2 million of grant money to participate in the TSA's TWIC pilot program, designed to test the cards and readers in working environments. The Port is combining TWIC data and other data streams from trucks, e-modal software and RFID tags. "What we are trying to do is get a nice picture of who should be on the Port," said McMullen.

A final component of the security plan is a Port business continuity team and software. "I come from an industry with a sophisticated supply chain, and our Port tenants have very sophisticated product chains," said McMullen, who logged 28 years with McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, implementing security automation projects. That experience, shared by many on his team, is helping them educate various agencies about the need to take tenants' logistic needs into account in the event of emergencies or a major security event. "The Port can't go down for 90 days," said McMullen.

Searching for Flexibility


The Port's business plan clearly called for a flexible, open security management system--a challenging proposition in 2007, said McMullen.

"In 2007, there was not a COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] product that anybody could prove to us had accomplished the task we were asking them to do," he said.

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The Port hired an independent firm to find security management system vendors; it returned with a list of 21 candidates. "As we reviewed them, two-thirds of them were good if all we needed to integrate was video and access alarms," said McMullen. "But once we got into notification, radar, sonar--all of a sudden, those vendors dropped off the board."

That first culling left five systems. Two of these were custom-built, proprietary solutions, McMullen said. "You'd have your functionality," he said, "but it'd be written just for you." That suggested an inflexibility to easily accommodate future security, logistic and business systems the Port might implement.

"Three products were really immersed in the industry and had the business relationships to do the interfaces," said McMullen. His team interviewed these vendors, met with their design teams and in the end, chose Proximex's Surveillint PSIM platform. It was installed and configured by The LANAIR Group, a Los Angeles-based systems integrator.

When all the technology reviews were in, a key factor in choosing Proximex was that it was an American-owned company based in California. "It was the only finalist that fit that category," said McMullen. That fact has proven beneficial, he said.

"Our relationship is close, so if and when we have notifications, they send people down here to see what's going on," he said. "I'm not sure we'd have gotten the same level of service otherwise."

"It's a very simple system," McMullen went on. "In three days, people were up to speed on it. It has saved us considerable dollars just in training."

Surveillint also has easy reporting capabilities, he said.

"The operators do real time stats off the Proximex platform," said McMullen. "So as they are doing alarms, as they are responding to the various systems, they can actually break it down and see our current response time to an incident, how many alarms are coming in on today's shift, who is managing the most incidents on a given day. All those types of reports can be visualized on graphs in a matter of seconds. In the old days, we'd have to go to all those independent systems and pull those reports and then tabulate them. Here they're doing that in a matter of seconds.

"That's a big cost savings too because to measure yourself, you have to collect those statistics. You have to do it regularly; we do it on a monthly basis. Instead of it being a two-day orPier G POLB.jpgdeal, it's literally a matter of 30 minutes to pull reports from six or seven categories. That's been very beneficial as well," he said.

With core security systems nearly complete, McMullen is pleased with the Port's blanket security coverage. "I think we'll be the first port completely protected underwater, on the water, on land and up to 1800 feet in the air."

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