Jan 1, 2005 12:00 PM

NEARLY 6,000 SHIPS call at Port Everglades annually, and its growing containerized cargo business places it 12th among the nation's seaports. The port's petroleum storage and distribution hub serves all of south Florida; it is one of the top three cruise ports in the world; and it boasts a major convention center within its 2,000 acres. Port Everglades is one of South Florida's strongest economic engines with annual operating revenues of approximately $100 million.

Few sites pose more complex or more critical challenges than the nation's seaports. At a Congressional hearing earlier this year, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California called America's ports "the soft underbelly of our nation's security." In addition to the usual concerns of asset and employee protection, ports face additional security threats from drugs and other smuggling operations, stowaways and major theft. And while airports seem to have received the majority of the Department of Homeland Security's attention and budget due to the looming threat of terrorism, there has also been no shortage of security activity at the nation's 361 ports.

"We face a huge challenge, half our perimeter is waterside," says Mel Becena, security administrator for Port Everglades. "Seaports have to allow traffic on the waterside; we're not a naval base where we can seal off access without impacting hundreds of thousands of dollars of commerce. So, we have to balance commerce and security by being flexible and realistic without compromising our security principles."
A complex security operation

In 2003, operational security costs ! personnel, hardware, maintenance, harbor patrols, etc. ! at Port Everglades amounted to $15 million. "Closely managing costs is very important, but it cannot be at the expense of security. An incident involving a cruise ship or a petroleum tanker, for example, could have widespread negative effects elsewhere," Becena says.

Becena's security operation is directly in charge of Port Everglades' access points, the perimeter and the waterside. Within the port are 35 different facilities ! cargo terminals, propane and petroleum farms, and cruise lines just to name a few ! that are responsible for their own security. These companies employ 12 or more different private firms fielding security personnel, deploying CCTV, access control systems and more. In addition to the private security companies, the port contracts the Broward County Sheriff's Office for land and harbor patrols and response. Unlike the private companies, these security personnel report directly to Becena.

Thus to man the port's security operations, Becena oversees an operation comprising his staff, contracted law enforcement and private security staff. Given this mix of personnel and the challenges that confront them, it's not easy to manage all the moving parts and ensure compliance with stringent new Coast Guard regulations.

"The key aspect is the integration of the different private security forces with our security force and management structure," Becena says. "We believe that by training them and making them very familiar with our plan and procedures, we become more effective as a whole. It is well worth our time and investment."

To date, the port has trained upwards of 1,000 private security staff. They do not charge for the training, but it is mandatory for anyone who wants to work at the port.
Advanced security not by man alone

At least half of the Port Everglades perimeter contains high-security areas for freight operations, cruise ship terminals, and petroleum and liquid propane gas loading and unloading. Months before the Sept. 11 attacks, Becena's predecessor set planning in motion to enhance security management and capabilities. Upon taking over the job more than two years ago, Becena was able to leverage this planning to secure $10 million in Department of Homeland Security funding, supplementing State of Florida funds, to help underwrite an ambitious $45 million investment in a new communications infrastructure and a vast, integrated security system.

The system upgrade and expansion have proceeded in phases. The first phase involved installation of 53 miles of fiber-optic cable. This one-gigabyte network is devoted solely to the security department in order to provide sufficient bandwidth, control and data security.

The just-completed phase of the project comprises more than 200 fixed and pan/tilt/zoom cameras monitoring port entry and exit points and surveillance of both landside and waterside perimeters. The project represents collaboration and integration among several major security companies ! access control by Lenel Systems Intl. Inc.; advanced network video management from DVTel; ObjectVideo's intelligent camera analysis; storage solutions from StorageTek; and cameras provided by FLIR and Bosch. Security One Systems Inc. was chosen to provide, install and integrate all the equipment and systems, working from a system design provided by Ross & Baruzzini consultants.
A "virtual tripwire"

One of the unique and highly powerful aspects of the port's security is the ObjectVideo VEW system deployed on more than 100 analog cameras that cover the waterside perimeter. Port security personnel can create virtual perimeters on land or water by drawing a video "tripwire" directly on a computer snapshot of the camera's view. In real-time, ObjectVideo VEW runs all objects in a camera's view against threat-specific pre-programmed rules. When an object violates a rule ! for example, if a small boat loiters next to a ship or a bag is left unattended at a cruise ship terminal ! the software alerts port security personnel by popping video on the security console or by phone, pager or e-mail. Since the lines are virtual, personnel can make instant adjustments to the perimeters in response to changes in the port's security level or to address specific maritime threats. "If you can think of it, we can more than likely program a rule to guard against it," says Tony Belotto, special projects director for Security One.

Says Becena: "ObjectVideo allows us to detect someone coming into an area they shouldn't be in. Then the camera is able to assess that event and determine if it is a threat or not. It's very important to determine if it's a threat before you deploy. This is one of the best ways we have figured out to protect our waterside."
Improvements to the original system design

Ross & Baruzzini's original design called for 14 "node rooms" located throughout the port in which DVRs and ObjectVideo servers would connect directly to nearby cameras before the data was put on the network. Belotto recommended the port use DVTel's software-based solution and unique architecture to extend and improve on this initial plan.

"Originally the DVR and Object-Video hardware would be spread out all over the port. It seemed to me that with DVTel and ObjectVideo's advanced technology there was an alternative," Belotto says. "Why not use the dedicated network to take advantage of an IP-based system architecture? Using DVTel's Latitude NVMS (Network Video Management System), we can bring all the data back to the Security Operations Center (SOC), where we now have the bulk of the hardware, and we control everything from one centralized location. We saved the port money and made the system much more manageable and scalable than what we had first planned."

Camera data now travels into DVTel encoders in the node rooms. Then it is placed onto the network for transmission to the SOC to the ObjectVideo VEW for analysis and to DVTel NVMS for monitoring and recording. The key to this improved design was the integration between DVTel and ObjectVideo that enables the ObjectVideo VEW system to take video data directly from the network instead of from the analog camera.

"DVTel is a network-based system, so there was no need to put DVRs all around the port," Becena says. "The integration gives us the performance we need to meet our complex security threats ! all at a significant savings over the original design."

Another major benefit to the ObjectVideo-DVTel integration is that theoretically any camera can be run through the ObjectVideo analysis system, not just the cameras initially dedicated to such intelligent analysis.
Controlling a lot of access

Given the many activities at the port, thousands of vehicles pass through its four main gates every day. Becena describes the port's approach to managing access: "Our goal is a well designed access control plan, one that is designed in layers. First, we want to create deterrence with a clear presence at the entrance point. Our second layer is patrols, particularly at the dockside area, which is entirely restricted. This constitutes the detection portion of the plan ! deter and then detect. Once we detect, we then respond with our very robust police presence. The whole intent is to delay the aggressor long enough for us to get to him before he gets where he wants to go."

At each entry gate, every vehicle is met, IDs are checked, and passengers are queried about their purpose and destination. Depending on security levels or other intelligence, a varying percentage of vehicles undergo a full screening and inspection. All gates have surveillance cameras providing multiple views as well as license plate capture.

The port's access control system is provided by Lenel. The ObjectVideo and DVTel alarms are integrated into the Lenel OnGuard Alarm Monitoring client workstation. Here again, the port benefits from extensive integration ! in this case Lenel and DVTel ! which is implemented through Lenel's Open Access Alliance Partnership (OOAP) program.

Belotto says the final integration will be set up so the DVTel and Lenel systems will pass information back and forth. In the future, most of the alarms will come from Lenel's access control monitoring, and such alarms will pass to the DVTel NVMS to automatically pop video on a specific screen in the SOC. All three systems ! Lenel, ObjectVideo, and DVTel ! can create alarms that will pop video in the SOC for immediate investigation. In addition, to protect remote equipment the Lenel system can tie in door contacts and thermostats in the node rooms to provide even more control for security personnel.
In the Security Operations Center

When there is a specific threat coming from anywhere in the port complex via the three main security systems, video of that alarm is automatically displayed on a designated monitor in the SOC. The SOC can currently accommodate four to six personnel monitoring alarms, communications and the cameras individually programmed with rules determined by Becena. The DVTel and Lenel systems operate side by side at the dual consoles, and security personnel have up to 32 camera views on display at any one time. PTZ cameras can be controlled by either mouse or joystick.

All video is recorded at seven frames-per-second to the 33-terabyte StorageTek Bladestore servers. In the event of an alarm, video recording goes immediately to 30 fps to ensure maximum investigation capabilities, while keeping storage demands manageable.

At present, Becena's staff includes a security manager, a security compliance manager, and two system network analysts, who ensure the system operates properly. The system network analysts train about 15 SOC staff members.

Security One has placed a dedicated person on site at the SOC to work with the Port Everglades staff to maintain the system for three years after commissioning.
Future plans

To date, more than 200 cameras have been deployed at the port. Future plans call for expansion of surveillance and the ObjectVideo intelligent analysis to additional areas, including more gates, a propane gas farm, expanded cruise passenger terminals, Foreign Trade Zone buildings, the Coast Guard station and others. Eventually, the number of cameras could top 400. The efficient expansion in the number of cameras and coverage areas is made possible by the flexibility and scalability of the IP-based architecture Port Everglades had the foresight to install.

Port Everglades is also in the process of building an alternate SOC that will duplicate the functions of the main Security Operations Center.

"CCTV alone can only do so much, access control alone can only do so much," Becena says. "All those sophisticated systems alone aren't a total solution; you must have an integrated system based on a solid, comprehensive assessment of what threats you face."

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