12.28.2007

Ohio hospital uses RFID for asset tracking

A 222-bed hospital in southern Ohio is hard at work trying to track its expensive health care technologies.

With high-end specialty devices used by the hospital staff, it's a concern that such devices aren't being rolled out the doors by thieves, and also that hospital staff know immediately where to locate a specific device when the situation calls.

Radianse, an RFID-based asset tracking provider, is apparently working with the hospital, Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), to accomplish these goals. The company's location platform and "Reveal" asset tracking systems is being implement hospital-wide, and will managed some 1,600 medical devices and specialty equipment in the hospital.

The adoption of Radianse's technology is part of a major $110 million facility expansion that is adding over 100 rooms, as well as new facility areas such a new emergency services area and a same-day surgery section.

The technology was rolled out such that coverage could be either zone-level (i.e., Radiology), or at the room-level (e.g., surgery bay #1). The room-level technology can often pinpoint a device within three feet.

Besides equipment management, they hospital even found benefits when it came to JCAHO compliance. The hospital is taking advantage of the system for monthly safety inspection of hospital beds, a process that had previous been plagued with challenges as locating empty beds or finding when in-use beds might become empty and available for the check.

According to Penny Cooper, the administrative director of worksite and patient safety for SOMC, "the technology impacts virtually every department." Cooper added that the next step would be to possibly use the system for patients, when needed, and possibly for security issues outside the main facility.

"Our future plans will consider use of the Radianse platform to improve safety, particularly to add patient flow as we ramp up our new emergency services," said Cooper. "We also think about staff safety. Imagine if every staff member had an active-RFID tag in the parking garage – a wonderful security application. Disaster preparedness is another opportunity."

12.07.2007

Mall security: Where do we stand?

Securityinfowatch.com has a good article on mall security in light of the recent events in the Omaha mall tragedy.

Mall security: Where do we stand?

Following the Omaha mall incident, an overview of where mall security stands today

Geoff Kohl, editor
SecurityInfoWatch.com

On Wednesday afternoon, an apparently troubled young man opened fire upon customers and employees at the Westroads mall in Omaha, Nebraska. Eight customers and employees were dead, and another five injured before the gunman took his own life. The incident seemed early similar to a shooting at a Salt Lake City mall almost a year earlier, which had ended with a law enforcement officer gunning down the shooter before more loss of life could occur.

SecurityInfoWatch.com caught up with Jon Lusher, the principal consultant and executive vice president of internal inspection and compliance for IPC International. IPC provides security services to shopping centers and malls in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, including security officers, technical services, as well as security training and consulting. Lusher shared his thoughts on the current state of mall security and how such incidents as the Westroads mall shootings affect retail security postures.

SIW: Can we prevent mall shootings like what happened in Omaha this week?

Lusher: I don't think it is possible to literally prevent such shootings as long as there are such disturbed individuals or terrorists committed to such attacks. Through a combination of skilled security personnel, law enforcement liaison and technology, some such incidents may be deterred and many more minimized.

A similar attack occurred in Salt Lake City in 2006. What can be learned from analyzing these incidents?

It is useful to know that the presence of law enforcement officers will continue to be an integral and important part of security at shopping centers. Further, these incidents validate the type of training now widespread in the industry, which deals with observing behaviors indicative of violent activity, as well as how to handle the incidents themselves to minimize injury, loss of life or property loss.

What is the current concern and thinking from mall and retail owners regarding this type of incident?

I know them to be very concerned, and yet confident that they are isolated incidents that cannot be absolutely defended against.

What about the possibility of metal detectors and X-rays?

We know that such techniques are technically possible, that the technologies exist. However, the industry feels, along with the vast majority of society, that we do not want to institute such draconian measures.

What should be the role of mall security officers in these situations, since they are almost always unarmed?

Their chief responsibility will always be to minimize harm to those in the mall. Thus, immediate inclusion of law enforcement and execution of plans in place to react to such occurrences are the first priority. Certainly, provision of first aid and crime scene maintenance would be included in these plans, as well as possible evacuations, reliance on emergency exits, etc.

Does technology like video surveillance even become a benefit here (for active prevention), considering such events are usually over within 5 minutes?

Video is unlikely to be a deterrent to this type of offender, but certainly may help security and law enforcement to manage and minimize harm. Secondarily, video may provide useful documentation and explanation of the incident.

Are store owners often trained in how to lock down their locations?

Most malls encourage this type of training, and assist stores in obtaining specific training. Further, security does work to coordinate the plans individual stores may have in place.

Does the fact that there is a security staff for the mall and individual security staffs for stores make it more of a challenge to create a unified security response and presence, especially since the staffs have historically been instructed to not rely on the other for communications and back-up?

It is perhaps more difficult if there is some hesitancy on the part of a store to coordinate [with mall security], but far from impossible. It takes some skill to coordinate the differences, but it is routinely accomplished.

In the area of mall and retail security, do you think we are getting better at sharing information among different private security staffs?

I do believe so. I would note that we have not found the information sharing from Federal authorities on terror-related issues to be much improved.

This incident occurred in the midst of a busy holiday shopping season (not unlike the Tacoma, Wash., mall shooting in 2005). Do you expect this incident to impact retail sales in shopping centers?

Generally, we see (anecdotally) that retail is not substantially decreased. We believe shoppers recognize these are isolated incidents that can and do occur in any venue, and are not deterred from living their lives, including shopping!

- The Hackett Security Team

Three Steps for Immunizing Your Company From Overtime Suits

In light of our Time and Attendance solutions (We are and authorized Time America Reseller) I wanted to share this good article from Workforce Management.

Three Steps for Immunizing Your Company From Overtime Suits
By taking a few simple precautions, companies can avoid falling prey to wage and hour lawsuits.

If lawyers who represent employees against employers—plaintiffs’ attorneys—were rats in a maze, they would get to the cheese faster than a politician gets to a handshake.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers are maze-wise. They know how the system works. They know that if they can create factual issues of "he said, she said," throw in some "David and Goliath" pathos and skip past the trapdoors leading to legal issues, they will most likely get their client in front of a jury. And that leads to dollars in their pockets, either through settlement (because many employers would rather settle than go through a lengthy, painful trial) or through a substantial dollar award by a jury.

Given the U.S. Department of Labor’s newest regulations and the fact that the number of collective actions filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act now exceed all other types of employment collective actions combined, the rats are after one big hunk of cheese.

Remember that juries decide questions of fact. And an employee’s FLSA claim is chock-full of these questions.

Think of the employee who testifies that in spite of the company’s handbook rules regarding overtime and the prominent time clock posted on the break room wall, employees routinely worked "off the clock" because there was so much work to do. Or the employer who delegated a supervisor to ensure employee compliance with overtime rules, but looked the other way when payroll budgets were too high and production levels were low.

There is no easy fix to eliminate a hungry lawyer on the prowl for a good plaintiff case, but some simple steps taken early on, and consistently followed, can help barricade entry to the employer’s checkbook.

First, employers must keep in mind that there are only a handful of exceptions to the rule that employees should receive hourly pay, with time and a half for overtime.

My first rule? Have three sets of eyes scrutinize any exception to hourly pay. The company’s corporate management, human resources administrator and legal department or outside counsel should sign off on every situation that falls outside the hourly pay standard.

Second, audit your company’s pay practices, frequently. Regularly re-examine each job position: Review the position’s job description, the employee performance and evaluation form, and the pay scale for that position, all with the objective of a fair, impartial evaluation as to whether the position is truly exempt or nonexempt. Use someone with a fresh eye to conduct the audit, not the person who originally designated the position as exempt.

Third, employers should develop a culture of fairness and good faith in dealing with employees. Avoid the trap of demanding mammoth output goals be accomplished within a 40-hour workweek, encouraging employees to work longer hours without overtime pay to meet quota.

Coach and counsel, discipline and document all occasions when employees are discovered working off the clock. And save a copy of each of those disciplinary actions in a "plaintiffs’ attorneys will never take advantage of me" file. When an allegation comes along that the company has allowed a policy of encouraging employees to work off the clock to flourish, just reach for that file. You’ve made your defense lawyer’s job infinitely easier, and less costly.

An employer’s good faith can also be established through well-drafted, even-handed and consistently enforced company policies. Employers can also ask the U.S. Department of Labor for a written ruling, approval or interpretation of a particular position’s pay status. An employer’s good faith application of a particular action because of such a ruling is an absolute defense to a minimum wage and/or overtime claim.

By following just a few pre-emptive and proactive procedures to monitor its pay practices, a company can stop even the hungriest maze-wise plaintiffs’ lawyers in their tracks.

Workforce Management Online, May 2006


- The Hackett Security Team

Day Care Centers Use Biometrics To Help Secure Children

Security Products Online has another great article on Biometrics that I would like to share with you.

Day Care Centers Use Biometrics To Help Secure Children

When looking for a care provider, parents always want to know that their children will be in a safe and secure environment. And the Tutor Time Child Care/Learning Centers in Plantation and Pembrook Pines, Fla., have added another level of security by installing Schlage FingerKey DX biometric fingerprint scanners.

“The safety and security of our students and staff has always been the most important factor at our centers,” said Renee Johnson, district manager for Tutor Time. “Installing biometric technology was simply a natural progression for us, and we’re glad that we can offer our parents a little added comfort when they leave their most cherished possession -- their child -- in our care.”

The biometric system is part of a two-factor authentication system, requiring a fingerprint and PIN number to verify that only authorized visitors can enter the center.

To enroll children’s families with the system, Tutor Time has parents scan their fingerprints, which are then converted into a series of numbers like a bar code. The biometric unit stores only the template, not the actual fingerprint, to alleviate privacy concerns.

When a parent comes to the centers, they first enter their personal PIN in the unit, much like a bank ATM. After the number is accepted, they place their finger on the FingerKey DX sensor, calling up the stored template.

With a match, the door is unlocked. Verification with the system takes less than two seconds.

“From custody disputes to people just walking in off the streets, school officials must consider security paramount,” said Jon Mooney, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies general manager for Schlage biometrics. “While keys and cards are difficult to secure and manage, schools are also learning that they cannot take the chance of having a single code getting compromised, whether from ex-spouses, former employees, or a simple lost card or key.”

By:Brent Dirks
Brent Dirks is e-news editor for Security Products magazine.

- The Hackett Security team

3-D face readers are more accurate and better suited for access control

Security Products Online has a nice article on 3D facial recognition that I would like to share with you.


3-D face readers are more accurate and better suited for access control

Facial recognition technology has entered a new dimension. It has left the flat world of machine-readable 2-D photographs and entered the world of 3-D. Three-dimensional facial recognition can offer significant advantages over 2-D and is geared toward enterprise access control.

Face recognition has been gaining popularity as a biometric identity verification solution—with annual revenue expected to exceed $1 billion by 2012, according to the International Biometric Group.

Verification and Identification
While 2-D is being used by law enforcement for identification, it is not well suited for verification. Identification involves comparing an image against a database of images to identify a person. In verification solutions, a biometric identifier is compared either to another template called up through a PIN, a smart card or against a small database of other templates. However, because 2-D images are affected by lighting conditions and factors, such as shadows, they are not suitable for access control. In UK trials of biometric passports, only 69 percent of able-bodied volunteers and 48 percent of disabled participants were correctly authenticated. Some 3-D facial recognition systems, however, use their own near-infrared light source, which means they can make accurate matches, even in poor lighting conditions.

And 3-D facial recognition technology has other advantages. It is possible to collect more data points with 3-D—up to 40,000 with some tools—and the types of data points collected are more valuable. While a 2-D system might make a match using the distance between the eyes, 3-D uses the curvature of the forehead. The latter is more useful because it allows 3-D systems to make matches, even if a face changes as a result of a scar or facial swelling due to an accident or a change in weight.

There are two approaches to 3-D facial recognition—stereo and structured light. Stereo 3-D systems create 3-D images by synthesizing two or more 2-D photos. This compute-intensive approach adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to 3-D face matching and, like 2D, is hampered by poor lighting conditions. Structured-light, 3-D face readers, on the other hand, shine an invisible, near-infrared grid-shaped light on a user’s face while a camera takes a picture of the distortions in the grid caused by the face, collecting approximately 40,000 data points.

Access Control
3-D face recognition is designed to make accurate matches, even when the threshold for matches is set very high. This is the exact situation encountered in a deployment by the Regional Transportation District of Denver.

With 85 million passenger trips aboard its light rail, bus, call-n-ride and access-a-ride services each year, the RTD handles millions of dollars in transit fees annually. Like other financial organizations, the RTD treasury needed a top-of-the-line security solution that strictly controls access to its offices and safes. The RTD found what it was looking for in Bioscrypt’s VisionAccess 3-D face readers.

The treasury deployed face readers in conjunction with a Lenel card access system in an award-winning deployment. The treasury entrance also features a mantrap to ensure that only one person can enter at a time.

By adding 3-D face readers to its access control solution, RTD now employes strong authentication solutions. In use, treasury staff pause in front of the reader, where it makes a match with the template stored on their card in less than a second. The initial enrollment process is likewise quick and only takes 6 to 8 seconds.

“Security at the treasury has been increased significantly,” said Don Young, the RTD treasury’s manager. “Bioscrypt’s 3-D face readers are an elegant and simple solution that will present a significant challenge to anyone attempting to gain unauthorized access to the treasury.”

High Standards
Organizations have the ability to set different thresholds for security with any biometric implementation. At a high threshold that raises the number of data points that must match in order for someone to be granted entrance, there will be fewer false accepts—the authorization of unauthorized personnel—but an increase in false rejects—declining access to someone who is actually authorized. At lower thresholds, the number of false accepts increases, while the number of false rejects decreases.

The treasury needed to set its system at a high threshold.

"We have the treasury's security access thresholds set on high because treasury cannot tolerate any false accepts, yet we experience a 99 percent throughput rate. Bioscrypt’s readers are serving us with fast speeds and high accuracy," Young said.

Like other biometric solutions, face recognition uses who a person is, rather than what they know or what they have for identity verification, significantly increasing security without sacrificing convenience. Passwords and PINs—what a person knows—can be stolen, forgotten, lost or lent out. Smart cards, proximity cards and tokens—what a person has—can likewise be stolen, misplaced, forgotten, forged or borrowed. A person’s face or fingerprint—who a person is—however, is always with them and can’t be stolen or copied. Using face recognition alone or in conjunction with another authentication factor for dual- or multi-factor authentication, therefore, significantly increases security.

By: Matthew Bogart
Matthew Bogart is the vice president of marketing at Bioscrypt Inc.


- The Hackett Security Team

12.03.2007

Kitchen Fire Safety Video - Please Watch!

If you can keep your wits about you, this is something to remember! Courtesy of The Fire Brigade.

video

Nashville Schools to Test Face Recognition Technology

Securityinfowatch.com has a really interesting article about Face Recognition Technology being used in Nashville schools to ID intruders.


Nashville Schools to Test Face Recognition Technology 75,000-student district seeks to ID people unfamiliar and barred faces
Thomas Frank, USA TODAY

The Nashville school system plans to become the first in the nation to use security cameras that spot intruders with controversial face-recognition technology.

Starting Dec. 1, the 75,000-student district will equip three schools and an administration building with cameras that can detect an unfamiliar face or someone barred from school grounds, said Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent for student services.

"This will give us an edge in providing safety for our students and teachers," Thompson said of the $30,000 camera system. Several intruders have entered Nashville schools in the past year, he said.

A successful test in Nashville could prod other schools to try the technology, said Peter Pochowski, executive director of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers. He said Nashville is the first to use face-recognition cameras.

Nashville will take digital photos of students and workers at the three test schools and store them in the new camera system, Thompson said. When a camera spots a face in a school that it cannot match to a stored photo, it will alert security. The system also could detect suspended and expelled students and fired employees, Thompson said.

The technology is denounced by civil libertarians and has been discarded by police in Tampa and Virginia Beach, which found face-recognition cameras in downtown districts did not help in spotting wanted criminals.

"Schools should not feel like some sort of prison," said Melissa Ngo of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union said that because the cameras identify people, their widespread use could let authorities "track you throughout the day."

Schools have grown more open to security technology since the Columbine shootings in 1999, though many lack money for high-tech devices, said Ken Trump, a school safety consultant.

Many urban schools have networks of security cameras that are monitored from a control room. Some use radio-frequency ID cards to track students as they board school buses and enter buildings. Others check visitors' names against databases of sex offenders.

An elementary school in Phoenix installed face-recognition cameras in 2004 to find sex offenders but never turned them on because of concern they would flag innocent people, said Carol Donaldson of the Washington Elementary School District.

Jonathon Phillips, head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's face-recognition program, said the cameras have problems in poor lighting or if they photograph at an angle and cannot fully view a face. A test last year in a German subway found that cameras spotted only half of the test subjects, Phillips said.


So what do you think of this use of technology?

- The Hackett Security Team