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By: Security Systems News

04/03/2020

SSN Staff

DES MOINES, Iowa—Per Mar Security Service, a provider of total security solutions for residential and commercial clients and the parent company to Midwest Alarm Services, announced it has acquired GT Fire & Security based in Grand Island, Neb.
“GT Fire & Security is a great company founded by wonderful people,” Per Mar COO Brian Duffy. “We are happy to have found such a perfect mutual fit.”
GT Fire & Security was founded in 2008 by Gary and Tracy Hesman, who along with the technicians from GT Fire & Security, will be joining the Midwest Alarm Services team, and will continue to provide service from the Grand Island office.   
“This is a merger of two companies who prize their employees and customers above all else,” said Midwest Alarm Services President Doug Richard said. “By combining operations, both Midwest Alarm Services and GT will be able to improve their delivery of products and services.”
Established in 1953, Per Mar Security Services is a family-owned, full-service security company with more than 2,300 team members, operating in 23 branch locations. The company provides full-service security solutions for homes and businesses including security officer services, smart home automation, burglar and fire alarms, access control, security cameras, alarm monitoring, investigative services and background checks. Established in 1950, Midwest Alarm Services is a family-owned company specializing in life safety systems across four states.


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In a new approach to storm surge protection, a team has created a preliminary design for dual-purpose kinetic umbrellas that would provide shade during fair weather and could be tilted in advance of a storm to form a flood barrier. The researchers used computational modeling to begin evaluating the umbrellas’ ability to withstand an acute storm surge.

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Industry consultant assesses the benefits and shortcomings of using this technology during the current pandemic

04/01/2020

Paul Ragusa

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YARMOUTH, Maine—Thermal cameras and devices are being used today during the coronavirus outbreak to help detect elevated temperatures in humans, providing a first line of defense in at least identifying those who are exhibiting signs of a fever. But, as we have discovered, the use of this technology is only part of the overall screening process, and there are challenges with using thermal cameras for this purpose, especially if someone is symptomless yet still contagious.
To get a closer look at this topic, Security Systems News spoke with industry consultant Pierre Bourgeix, president of ESICONVERGENT LLC.
SSN: Do thermal cameras provide the most effective way to detect if someone has the virus in the public domain?
BOURGEIX: As we deal with an unprecedented spread of coronavirus globally, governments as well as health agencies are attempting to define the best path forward to detect the virus in the public domain. The use of thermal cameras/sensors is part of this process. 
Unfortunately, this is a daunting task since there are few technologies that have proven to be 100 percent foolproof. The most well-known is the use of the thermal camera or thermal analytic to define the presence of heat at the surface of an object. The security industry and the military have used thermal cameras as far back as 1929 when a Hungarian physicist first defined the electronic thermal camera for anti-aircraft detection. The path from that early technology to the development of advanced thermal cameras didn’t become commercially popular until FLIR came to the market in 1978. 
With all this in mind, the thermal camera has gone through the most rigorous testing because of the importance of its use. There are many successful implementations of thermal human detection in law enforcement and the military. During SARS, the FLIR solution to detect a heat source based on skin temperature (adjusted to the specific number) was created and used somewhat successfully. However, the history of the thermal camera has never seen what is being unleashed onto the global arena like what his happening today. Within the last three months, a tidal wave of interest and requests are inundating companies that have been involved in the industry for decades such as FLIR, which is why it is critical to define the pros and cons of its use for thermal human temperature detection. SSN: What are some issues or challenges with using thermal technology to detect the virus?
BOURGEIX: The first issue is the fact that the temperature of the individual, as health administrators have stated, is not a completely foolproof way to define if you have COVID-19. According to the CDC, “the virus has an incubation period up to 14 days and during that time the infected person may not carry a temperature.” In addition, “post Covid-19 cases indicate that there is a spread potential of more than a week after you have survived the virus and would not display a fever.”
This makes it one of the most elusive and dangerous viruses ever to affect planet earth. Okay, that’s the bad news, but here is some good news: The thermal camera/sensor technology — as part of social distancing — helps define potential candidates who are in the greatest danger to themselves and to others. I want to call this the “80 percent rule.” If we can detect 80 percent of the population that has a temperature, which is in acceptable range of being potentially infected, then I believe that is a victory. However, the thermal camera/sensor must be tied to a process, which allows for data and testing to be done immediately.
SSN: Can you talk more about what is needed to make that screening process complete then?
BOURGEIX: I always say, if your policy is detection without prevention then what have you truly accomplished? Technology must be part of the equation. It is also clear to me that the use of analytics, machine learning and medical data libraries attached to detection processes that help the healthcare or security professional using the thermal camera solution can become effective. The 80 percent rule makes it more plausible in its use as a healthcare technology.
SSN: What are some other challenges when using thermal camera technology during the pandemic?
BOURGEIX: In everything there are always going to be cons. The unfortunate reality is that the popularity of finding the easy button also leads to flawed technology entering the market that has not been tested. These cameras or analytical solutions are becoming a panacea-type reaction to the fear of doing nothing, which is one of the greatest issues — doing nothing is completely wrong and being paralyzed by the effect of perfection is the greatest harm in dealing with a pandemic.
The reality is that there will be products and companies that will reap fortunes from the suffering of others. The question truly is: Should we stick to technology that has evolved, like thermal camera/sensors, or chase technology that has been created in the rush to make money? The health industry is not a technology industry; its priority is to save people’s lives by administering the most promising and tested drugs, processes and procedures to help the human being survive. The role of manufacturers is to create technology that can help the healthcare industry do their job better and more efficiently to save lives.
Some have also stated that the use of thermal camera/sensors could create privacy issues. Well this is non sequitur since thermal cameras detect an image based on its heat source and can easily obscure any form of identifiable characteristic, which would define the identity. Yes, if you have a temperature you would pose a risk to the public and therefore you would have to be identified. But the question is why would you ask about privacy concerns if lives were at risk? Are we so tied to emotional reactions that our thinking skills have disappeared entirely? It is critical for our humanity to understand that privacy has its place, and I am a firm believer in it, but in times of crisis, we must understand its place and its importance.
Yes, the pros of using technology to help mitigate the potential spread of this virus do outweigh the cons.
As with 9/11, we will see a rush to use any technology to improve our odds for survival; it is inevitable that some will be ineffective and frankly fraudulent, but this is the risk you take when implementing technology that is unproven. While it may never reach the 100 percent acceptance tolerance that some would like, thermal technology from known entities is proven.
Sorry to say, but delayed perfection may not be something we can wait for.
 


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Normally, it takes pricey equipment and expertise to create an accurate 3D reconstruction of someone’s face. Now, researchers have pulled off the feat using video recorded on an ordinary smartphone. Shooting a continuous video of the front and sides of the face generates a dense cloud of data. A two-step process uses that data, with some help from deep learning algorithms, to build a digital reconstruction of the face.

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By: Security Systems News

03/31/2020

Paul Ragusa

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HAWAII—Christine Lanning, president and co-founder of Integrated Security Technologies (IST) Inc., a commercial integrator based here, has been named Hawaii Small Business Association (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year for 2020.
Lanning, who is an established leader within the security industry, has also demonstrated those same leadership qualities within the community where she lives, as both an individual and small business owner who provides critically important security systems, services and support throughout Hawaii. In addition, she serves on SSN’s Editorial Advisory Board to share her knowledge regarding content and the education sessions offered at SecurityNext. 
“I’m truly humbled,” Lanning told Security Systems News about the recognition. “Security is usually never thought of. It’s this quiet industry that continues in the background — similar to insurance. So for a security integration company president to be awarded SBA Person of the Year is amazing.”
Lanning, along with her husband Andrew Lanning, leads an elite team of system integrators at IST — a woman-owned, small technology company in business since 1998. IST’s mission — “Leading Hawaii to a Safer Place” — reflects her history of commitment to the local community and the security industry.
In 2014, Lanning was awarded the ASIS Woman of the Year Award and in 2015 became the first female elected to the Board of Directors for PSA Security Network, North America’s largest electronic security cooperative. She is a champion for culture building and leadership, believing in “Ho’ohui” (creating connections and building bridges together), and is excited about the connections and awareness this award can create within security moving forward.
“This award can bring a lot to our industry as a whole,” she said. “And it gives me quite a platform to promote education, leadership and promotion of women and minorities. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Women and minorities are so under-represented in the security industry and as such we’re missing out on those diverse ideas, thoughts and creative solutions. I intend on using this award fully to continue our efforts to not only lead Hawaii to a safer place, but to lead the world to a safer, more inclusive place!”
Winners from each state have been invited to attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on May 3-4, and SBA will announce the 2020 National Small Business Person of the Year among the individual winners represented from across the U.S. and territories.
“What an honor it is for me to recognize the National Small Business Week state and territorial winners from across the nation whose exceptional hard work has created and built successful small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “These women and men not only realized their dreams of entrepreneurship but have also been tremendous job creators, helping to expand our economy. They represent the 30 million American small businesses — our nation’s innovators and risk-takers.”
Also, SBA will co-host a free, two-day virtual conference, May 5-6, featuring educational workshops and networking. National Small Business Week recognition and educational seminars throughout SBA’s 10 Regions and 68 Districts will be held during the week.


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By: Security Systems News

03/30/2020

SSN Staff

YARMOUTH, Maine—President Trump enacted the $2 trillion stimulus package on March 27, which provides several provisions that impact and affect the security industry, including relief for small businesses, loan forgiveness and unemployment assistance.
The Security Industry Association (SIA), Electronic Security Association (ESA) and ASIS International have been tracking the key provisions that impact the industry, with the full SIA/ASIS breakdown here and ESA’s here.
Looking at relief for businesses, $349 billion is appropriated for the Paycheck Protection Program through the end of 2020, and provides loans for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including sole-proprietors, independent contractors and other self-employed individuals. ESA noted some of the key provisions:•    Maximum loan amount is $10 million tied to a formula based on payroll costs.•    Provides delegated authority for lenders to make determination on eligibility without going through Small Business Administration (SBA) channels.•    Lowers the eligibility threshold during this crisis to require only that a business was operational on February 15, 2020 and had employees with paid salaries or paid independent contractors. It waives lender and borrower fees, credit test and collateral, and personal guarantee requirements.•    It allows the Treasury Department to add additional lenders for the Paycheck Protection Program loans.•    Requires borrowers to make good faith certification that the loan is necessary; will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, lease and utility payments; and is not receiving duplicate funds from another SBA program for the same purpose.•    Allows for a complete deferment of loan payments for at least six months but not more than a year.   In the area of loan forgiveness:•    Borrowers will be eligible for loan forgiveness for two months from the beginning date of the loan for payroll costs and interest payments on any mortgage, rent payments and utilities. All mortgage, rent and utility payments must have originated before February 15, 2020.•    The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionately by any reduction in employees retained compared to the previous year. But, to encourage employers to re-hire people who were laid off, employers will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period, if they re-hire employees laid off due to the crisis.•    The portion of loans forgiven will not be considered taxable income.•    Amount not forgiven will have a maturity of not more than 10 years and the maximum interest rate will be four percent (4%).
SIA and ASIS highlighted the “Tax Fix for Commercial Property Improvements” section, which enables businesses to write off immediately costs associated with interior improvements to a facility, instead of having to depreciate those improvements over the 39-year life of a building.
“The provision, which corrects an error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, not only increases companies’ access to cash flow by allowing them to amend a prior year return, but also incentivizes them to continue to invest in improvements as the country recovers from the COVID-19 emergency,” the associations noted.   In the area of “installation and upgrades to security and life-safety systems qualify,” the available “bonus depreciation” for Qualified Improvement Property QIP is 100 percent of costs for each tax year through 2022, which then phases out by 2027. Beyond the Section 179 expensing for these costs made available to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this change means these improvements can now be written off regardless of business size, SIA and ASIS noted.
The stimulus package also includes grants, funding and programs for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)/Law Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including directs funds for critical COVID-19 response missions, domestic and abroad.


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Researchers have developed a technique for determining the historical location and distribution of radioactive materials, such as weapons grade plutonium. The technique may allow them to use common building materials, such as bricks, as a three-dimensional ‘camera,’ relying on residual gamma radiation signatures to take a snapshot of radioactive materials even after they’ve been removed from a location.

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By: Security Systems News

Physical Security manager at 1898 and Co., a part of Burns & McDonnell

03/25/2020

Paul Ragusa

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What is your role at the company?As a Physical Security Manager, also known as a Section Manager, I am responsible for personnel management (development/training, staffing, communications, etc.) of a functional group of security consultants.
I am overall responsible for the direction and leadership of a section of 11 personnel. Areas of responsibility include general roles supporting the overall department/division and specific roles relative to the section, which include but are not limited to: recruitment, development, training and retention of section personnel, assignment of work and monitoring of staff workloads, and providing technical direction to the section, to name a few. This position is both a team management position as well as client-facing, subject matter expert in their field.
What kinds of systems do you design/specify and what services does the company provide?1898 & Co. (a part of Burns & McDonnell) provides future-focused consulting and technology solutions that deliver on clients’ most challenging problems. 1898 & Co. offers clients technology solutions and advisory consulting services including Business Optimization & Strategic Asset Planning, Digital Transformation & Software Solution Development, and Security & Compliance which is the department my Physical Security Consulting Section is aligned under. As threats to physical assets of our clients’ businesses continue to evolve, our section brings insights to build a systematic, structured, and holistic approach to risk management that meets needs while being cost-effective.
The majority of security systems and technology designed by our section generally revolve around the physical protection of electrical utility assets and are closely aligned with our clients’ needs in the Transmission and Distribution spaces. However, the breadth of our service offerings goes well beyond the electrical utility space, and at their core they are driven by two factors: Compliance with mandated regulations or risk-based security consulting services. They involve strategy services, advisory services, technology implementation, and training and awareness.
What vertical markets does the company specialize in? Any interesting projects?Arguably our main focus is providing security consulting and technical services in the Power and the Transmission and Distribution spaces. However, we provided services to clients in the Oil, Gas, and Chemical spaces, as well as in Healthcare, Water, Higher Education, Military, Government & Municipal, and Nuclear verticals. My personal favorite projects are driven by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation critical infrastructure protection (NERC-CIP) requirement 014. Regulatory mandated due to the April 2013 rifle attack of the Metcalf Substation in California, these complex projects employ a myriad of stakeholders and require a deep level of critical thinking and a keen understanding of ballistics, explosives and military-like assault tactics in order to devise and implement the necessary and correct hardening measures and other security plans.
How did you get started in security and designing/specifying?I served in the military for 24 years prior to joining the Physical Security Consulting section. One of my most crucial duties performed over the decades was that of understanding the threats we were facing and building defensive positions for my personnel and our equipment that included the implementation of physical and electronic technology solutions, and correctly hardening our posture to be able to withstand sustained, dynamic attacks.
Additionally, I chose to study Homeland Security and Business & Organizational Security Management for my Undergrad and Master’s. After the military, at Burns & McDonnell, I was very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of very talented folks with extensive security consulting experience and other backgrounds in engineering, low-voltage design, system integration, law enforcement, ground-based radar applications, and cyber, to name a few. I am still learning a lot from this phenomenal team of professionals!
Can you talk about what new or emerging technologies you are seeing or specifying today?We are noticing an increase in functionality, automation and integration in security systems across industries. New cameras are demonstrating a multitude of functions that decrease overall system costs, and increase functionality, allowing security practitioners to do more with their budgets. Specific advances in video systems include advanced analytics which provide new capabilities from intrusion detection to video review and facial recognition. Multi-lens cameras that allow operators to view much more area without significantly increasing costs or infrastructure, stitched imagery that produces much wider angles then previously possible, and long range IR illumination allowing low-light cameras to see with no ambient light source beyond 1000 feet in some cases.
Access control is becoming much more cost effective by employing simplified power sources, reducing head-end and auxiliary equipment, and in some cases moving to cloud based systems and integrating Bluetooth technology. Also, of note is the use of intelligent keys that provide greater control and awareness then traditional keys and it is done at a fraction of the cost of traditional card reader based access control. Finally, ground based radar (GBR) applications seem to be expanding as new threats emerge, such as drones, with new manufactures entering the market allowing the costs to decrease.
What is your view on the industry moving forward?I personally, and somewhat regrettably, believe that in most cases physical security remains a reactive-type industry, despite the relentless attempt of security professionals to elevate its importance on the executives’ agendas and posture it in such a way that would make it a proactive item on everyone’s mind, from the CEOs to the newest intern.Security professionals, particularly consultants, must continue to showcase the industry’s importance whether it is to their bosses or to their clients, and continue to find creative and budgetary-conscious ways to express and highlight the importance of hardening and improving the security posture across our Nation prior to a malevolent event occurring, or having the correct mitigating measures in place to minimize its impact to the lowest level possible if its occurrence proves unavoidable. ssn
Specifically Speaking, a Security Systems News monthly column, features Q-and-A with a security consultant provided to SSN by SecuritySpecifiers.


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By: Science Daily

Creating and controlling on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars is a key goal of scientists around the world. Production of this safe, clean and limitless energy could generate electricity for all humanity, and the possibility is growing closer to reality. Now a landmark report proposes immediate steps for the United States to take to accelerate U.S. development of this long-sought power. The report also details opportunities for advancing our understanding of plasma physics and for applying that understanding to benefit society.

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