When security professionals travel to Southern California this month to attend the ASIS International 55th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, they will be in the center of a densely populated and diverse region. The businesses and government agencies that operate in the area must deal with a variety of challenges, from terrorism to budget constraints. The following case studies look at how four companies in the region are meeting security challenges.
Port of Long Beach
The Port of Long Beach covers 3,200 acres and is the second largest port in the United States. More than $140 billion in goods moves through the Port of Long Beach each year, including more than 7 million containers and more than 87 million metric tons of cargo.
To enhance its ability to watch over these assets, the port authority unveiled a new command and control center in February. The authority funded most of the $21 million cost for the project with a $17 million federal grant.
The primary function of the three-story control and command center, complete with rooftop heliport, is to house the port’s own security operations, but it also makes space available for representatives from various state and federal agencies that require a presence at the port. Customs and Border Protection, the Long Beach Police Department, the Marine Exchange of Southern California, the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, and the U.S. Coast Guard all have offices in the control center.
Because the command center is so vital to the security of the port, it is itself protected by 23 digital cameras and 44 access-control card readers that are located everywhere from the building entry points to elevators, granting access to each floor. Everyone with daily access gets a photo ID/access card. That includes the approximately 60 full-time security officers, a nine-person police dive team, administrative staff, and tenants.
Card access is also required to cross into the perimeter of the property, which is protected by a fence and gated entrance. Guests can contact security officers via intercom to be escorted inside.
Several features are designed to prevent any disruption in operations at the center. To make sure that communications remain open, the center has four redundant pathways for sending and receiving data. The facility also has a backup generator capable of supporting all of its functions for up to 24 hours. In addition, all of the center’s data is replicated and stored at a hot site in Phoenix.
Furthermore, because this is California, the building was constructed with earthquake survival in mind. For example, all of the center’s servers sit on rocking bases to prevent damage during tremors.
The heart of the command center is the primary operations center—a room filled with computers, phones, and a wall of 12 connected screens that give visual feedback from about 100 cameras maintained by the 12 terminals within the port and 130 cameras operated by the port authority itself. The port’s surveillance cameras include 33 thermal cameras and two military-grade cameras that can illuminate and capture clear images from a mile away.
In the operations center, staff members merge the surveillance information drawn from various entities within the port, including the terminals, which have their own security operations as well.
The command center digitizes every signal it receives so that the data can be easily shared if necessary. In addition, camera feeds are replicated, then separated from the original feed and encoded so that data from the original signal is masked. “This is done so that, if someone hacked into the command center network or servers, they could not tap into the source of the information, such as the cameras,” says Michael McMullen, lead project manager of the security division for the Port of Long Beach.
The camera feeds are integrated with information provided by the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which collects information on individual ships. This data includes the manifest and crew list as well as facts such as when the ship left its home port and whether it stopped along the way. Command staff can even pull up an insurance photo of a vessel to compare to the live images of a ship coming into port.
Using special software that stitches the camera images together, operations center staff can view the entire port on the wall of screens. Using simple point and click navigation, they can then pull up information on individual vessels or camera locations.
Though the data integration worked smoothly for the most part when the center first went live, there were glitches, according to McMullen. For example, the original plan was to use analytics for all of the cameras. However, the camera analytics were not accurate when used on water. So security now uses analytics on land and sonar on water.
Going forward, the center plans to implement more high-tech solutions to automate and integrate more data sources. For example, when harbor patrol officers go out on rounds, all of their actions are recorded in a video and audio log. When the officer returns, that log is downloaded and attached to the officer’s report for that shift. The report is put in storage for 40 days. However, if an incident occurs, the section covering that event is pulled out of the log and kept indefinitely.
To help streamline this process, the command center plans to purchase software that will allow officers to electronically flag an incident right after it occurs. When downloading the log, the software will automatically pull out the flagged portion and put it into long-term storage.