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Vendors unveil new technologies at port security expo in Long Beach, CA

Situator PSIM
from NICE Systems

Officials from many of the world’s top security companies unveiled their latest port security technologies at the first Port Security Operations Conference & Expo in Long Beach, CA.

At the Nov. 19-21 conference that brought together leaders in the maritime security industry, the companies presented a variety of new technologies to help port officials protect resources in highly effective and cost-efficient ways.

“This conference gathers together the premier players in North America that are investing millions of dollars in technologies that span the range from videos, video analytics and access control systems to messaging and mass notification systems,” said Ralston MacDonnell, the conference chair and president of the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based MacDonnell Group, an engineering and management firm with broad interests in port management and seaport security training.

At the conference, Dr. Bob Banerjee, the senior director for training and development at the Rutherford, NJ-based NICE Systems’ security division, said his company offers a Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software solution that helps port officials consolidate all of their systems at their central command center.

“You’ve got all these systems out there that are detecting things like people climbing over a fence or a small craft coming up on your sonar or radar,” Banerjee said. “You’ve got your card access, your fire system and your glass-break detectors. And you can't forget that most incidents start with a call, such as the discovery of a derailment. You’ve got all this plethora of different systems trying to tell you things and then you get drowned at the command center because you are covering thousands of acres, hundreds of staff and visitors, dozens of tenant companies and all the time trying to work seamlessly with local, state and federal agencies.”

The PSIM software solution helps port officials better manage all these systems and port resources by providing a systematic and consistent set of steps for everyone to follow.

“Once you know what is going on, you need to manage it,” Banerjee explained. “In order to manage it, you need to know where your resources are. Where are my police? Where are my medics? Where are all my mobile assets? That’s where the GIS mapping providers, like ESRI, come into it, so you can see in real time where everything is. Once you know where things are, you can use them efficiently. You can even peel back layers on the maps to see where hidden resources are, like power lines, water, gas, etc.”

Tarek Bassiouni, the lead business developer at the Boston, MA-based Acoustic Technology, Inc. (ATI Systems), a company that designs, manufactures and installs reliable emergency warning and notification systems, said the company offers a cohesive 21st century approach to mass notification, involving audio, visual and electronic means. The primary means is audio notification, especially in a noisy port environment. Bassiouni said the company’s omni-directional speakers take into account topography, sound propagation, climate and other factors -- allowing the user to send targeted, intelligible messages to people.

“That’s really important, especially when you have these ports that have a lot of ammonia and other petrochemicals and where one of the dangers is a silent release,” Bassiouni said. “So having the means to tell people -- ‘Hey, there is a hazardous chemicals release. Please assemble in the assembly point’ -- is really important.”

Other means of notification involve digital message boards, email, social media, desktop pop-ups and television and radio stations.