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Lockheed Martin delivers first advanced tech workstations for FBI program

Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin has delivered the first Advanced Technology Workstations (ATWs) as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s new biometrics system. 

The Next Generation Identification (NGI) workstations replace aging Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) service provider workstations, bringing improved capabilities for the FBI’s service providers and analysts, according to a Lockheed Martin statement.
 
“The current IAFIS receives an average of 160,000 fingerprint transactions per day, and on several occasions it has processed more than 200,000 transactions in a 24-hour period,” FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Deputy Assistant Director Jerome Pender said in the statement. “These ATWs will greatly improve the FBI’s ability to assess fingerprint matches.”
 
The NGI program’s ATWs offer service providers and analysts significantly larger display screens with higher resolution and true color support, allowing them to see more detailed attributes of biometric data for more efficient decision-making, the company notes.

In addition to enhanced display and processing capabilities, the workstations have an improved system infrastructure featuring commodity hardware architecture to allow for easy, affordable upgrades as technology evolves. The entire NGI system is being designed with a significant degree of flexibility to accommodate new technologies and other biometric modalities that may mature and become important to law enforcement efforts in the future.

The Lockheed Martin-led NGI team includes Accenture, BAE Systems Information Technology Inc., Global Science & Technology (GST), IBM and Innovative Management & Technology Services (IMTS).

Thermo Fisher Scientific to acquire Ahura Scientific in $145 million cash deal

Walltham, MA-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. reports that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Wilmington, MA-based Ahura Scientific for $145 million in cash.


The deal also includes a potential for an additional earn-out payment, based the “achievement of certain 2010 financial targets,” Thermo Fisher says.


Ahura Scientific specializes in the identification of chemicals for safety, security and pharmaceutical applications. The company’s Raman and FT-IR (Fourier-transform infrared) spectroscopy instruments are used by military and civilian first responders, pharmaceutical manufacturers and consumer health organizations.


Ahura’s products expand Thermo Fisher’s portfolio of portable analytical devices designed to identify and authenticate a range of molecular and elemental substances in the field, according to the companies.


The Ahura products also complement the Thermo Scientific line of portable XRF (X-ray fluorescence) elemental analyzers, designed for on-site testing of materials for such applications as metal and alloy analysis, quality assurance and control, consumer product safety and environmental analysis, the companies add.


Ahura Scientific has approximately 120 employees and generated full-year revenue of approximately $45 million in 2009. It will be integrated into Thermo Fisher’s Analytical Technologies segment.


“The acquisition of Ahura Scientific further enhances our position in handheld analyzers and strengthens our Thermo Scientific brand by expanding the breadth of our portfolio with complementary technologies,” Marc Casper, president and CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, said in a statement. “It also provides the ability to leverage our commercial channel, product development expertise, and software over multiple laboratory and portable instrument platforms. This combination brings together both companies’ leading technologies for portable chemical and elemental analysis, allowing us to create a powerful tool set for our customers that enables laboratory-quality analysis in the field.”


The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2010.

Errol Southers withdraws as TSA nominee

In an interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show January 21, Errol Southers announced that he was withdrawing his name as the nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration.


Despite having been recently praised by Senator Joe Lieberman as having a perfect resume for the job, Southers said that the “union issue,” which had been brought up by Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, had “taken on a life of its own” and he had become “a lightning rod for the administration,” because even if he were confirmed, “the attacks wouldn’t stop, and they’d continue to dog me on the union issue.”


In the clip of Senator Lieberman that was played during the program, Lieberman stated that Southers brought three decades of service in public safety, homeland security and intelligence to the job. He pointed out that Southers had been in charge of counter-terrorism at all four Los Angeles airports, as well as being the deputy director of the California Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, an FBI agent and  a counter-terrorism expert at the University of Southern California.


After showing a clip of Senator Jay Rockefeller saying in Congress that “it’s a  real shame” that Southers had withdrawn his name for consideration, Maddow asked Southers why the administration hadn’t fought for him. Southers replied that he thought he was the right man for the job, and he was committed to working with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to taking the TSA, which he described as a mature agency, to the next level. But, he added, he felt that he would continue to be harassed over the union issue by Senator DeMint even if confirmed.


Maddow also asked him what the response of the administration should have been to the Christmas Day bomber. “We need to understand that we’re dealing with a transnational threat, and everyone in the government needs to understand that,” Southers said. “Everyone must be debriefed, instead of policies that are reactive.”


The final question put to Southers regarding the Christmas Day bomber was, “What are the hopes for detection” of such a bomb?  Is a new technology needed?


Southers said that in the case of PETN, the substance used by the Christmas Day bomber, “canines are very useful in detecting  its presence. But, he added, “It’s the people and the staffing and their knowledge of the issues, not the technology, that makes the difference.”

Grants available to states for criminal history improvement program

Up to 35 grants are available to state governments from the Bureau of Justice Statistics for the national criminal history improvement program (NCHIP).


The NCHIP grants are intended to further the crime fighting and criminal justice capabilities of state governments by improving the accuracy, utility, and interstate accessibility of criminal history records.


That mission specifically includes enhancing records of protective orders involving domestic violence and stalking, sex offender records, automated identification systems and other state systems supporting national records systems and their use for criminal history background checks.


Grant amounts were not specified in the program funding opportunity, number 2010-BJS-2475.


The closing date for applications is March 1, 2010.

For additional information, contact Lisa Price-Grear, program analyst, at 202-616-3561.

ASIS sets convention keynoters

“Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley Sullenberger and former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (2001-2008) have been announced as the featured keynote speakers for ASIS 2010 in Dallas.


The annual convention, to be held October 12-15 this year, is organized by ASIS International, the well-known trade group for security professionals.


The convention is expected to bring together more than 20,000 security, business and government professionals from more than 90 countries, according to ASIS.  The convention’s education program is expected to offer more than 180 sessions.
 
According to ASIS, the convention exhibit floor, more than 240,000 net square feet, will showcase approximately 700 companies there to demonstrate products and services.

Bosch GVS1000 sees far in the dark

Fairport, NY-based Bosch Security Systems, Inc. has introduced the GVS1000, which the company describes as the industry's longest active infrared imaging system for high-security applications.

The GVS1000 system provides full DCRI [i.e., detection, classification, recognition and identification) capabilities in total darkness, meeting the highest level of performance for nighttime surveillance, Bosch says.

With 3,280 feet (1 kilometer) of recognition-level imaging and 3,937 feet (1,200 meters) of classification-level imaging, the GVS1000 delivers such details as clothing or letters, necessary for determining whether an object or person is friend or foe, the company adds.

This level of long-range imaging is often required for critical applications, such as maritime monitoring, transportation surveillance and extended perimeter security, Bosch also notes.

ICOP awarded Texas state contract

Lenexa, KS-based ICOP Digital, Inc. reports that it has been selected by the State of Texas Office of the Comptroller, Texas Procurement and Support Services division (TPSS), to provide in-car video solutions.


According to ICOP, this contract enables authorized users, including state agencies, local governments, municipalities and higher education institutions, to bypass using their own procurement process and acquire ICOP’s systems.


The contract's initial term expires on October 31, 2010, with options for renewals for four additional years.


“This contract ensures that [Texas agencies] can now upgrade to a reliable state-of-the-art solution for the best quality video evidence on the market today, at an economical price," Dave Owen, ICOP CEO, said in a statement.

New Spyder long-range, infrared, dual-voltage camera

San Diego, CA-based Sperry West, the video surveillance manufacturer, has introduced the Spyder Big Guy (SWIR900C) camera, with an infrared and camera range up to 330 feet, which the company says eliminates the need for a separate camera and illuminator. 

People and objects can be recognized as far away as 200 feet, Sperry West adds.
 
According to the company, the Spyder Big Guy employs an extra large infrared array to provide full lens angulation coverage of an entire scene. 
 
The lens can be manually set as a varifocal or can be used as a zoom, with the addition of its remote control, SW notes. 
 
In addition, says Sperry West, the Spyder SWIR900 camera is weather resistant and operates on 110V AC or can be adjusted to operate on 12V DC using a two amp power supply (not included).

TSA awards sole source alerting contract to Clickatell

TSA has decided to award a sole source contract to Clickatell, Inc., of Redwood City, CA, worth $860,000 to continue to provide 24/7 operational support to the agency’s TSA Alert system, which can send voice, e-mail and text message alerts to the nation’s airports.

In a “justification and approval” document released on January 20, TSA explained that it could avoid any possible disruption caused by switching to a new vendor, and can save approximately $250,000 per year, by sticking with the incumbent vendor, which deployed and manages the current TSA Alert system through its predecessor corporation, known as Multimode.

TSA identified several potential providers of similar alert systems, including Red Alert, RapidReach, eAlert, Amerilert and RSAN, but concluded that “no such custom program was available from other vendors.”

In praise of the Clickatell alerting system, the TSA document noted that Clickatell offered a unique system to send and receive alerts, a comprehensive system architecture that allowed for more open standards for data exchanges, and had already passed U.S. Government certification and accreditation.

“Unlike other agencies with similar responsibilities, TSA lacks a nationwide radio communications network,” explained the TSA document. “TSA Alert was designed to fill that gap by providing a centrally managed system that can be customized for local sites.”

TSA likes its current alerting system and seems reluctant to make an abrupt switch. “TSA Alert is an extremely complicated system requiring the ability to connect to various downstream messaging providers, such as voice networks and text messaging,” the J&A notice explained. “The system in its current state is functional, reliable and has been certified and accredited.”

TSA said it intends to compete this contract during the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 for a subsequent award in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010.

 

 

Tips for info-sharing with local and tribal officials

The FBI and DHS need to better clarify what “suspicious activities” local and tribal officials in border communities are to report to federal law enforcement and state fusion agencies, and how to report them.

That was one of the central findings of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the House Committee on Homeland Security that studied information sharing among local and tribal officials in border communities, the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI and state fusion agencies.

As part of its work, GAO studied 20 agencies in border communities and five fusion centers.

The report recommended DHS and the FBI “more fully identify the information needs of and establish partnerships with local and tribal officials along the borders; identify promising practices in developing border intelligence products within fusion centers and obtain feedback on the products; and define the suspicious activities that local and tribal officials in border communities are to report and how to report them.”

GAO found that “15 of the 20 local and tribal law enforcement agencies in the border communities GAO contacted said they received information directly from at least one federal agency in the vicinity (Border Patrol, ICE, or the FBI) that was useful in enhancing their situational awareness of border crimes and potential terrorist threats.”

In addition, “nine of the 20 agencies reported receiving information from all three federal agencies.”

However, and possibly not surprisingly, local and tribal “officials that reported federal agencies had not discussed information needs and had not established partnerships with them also said they had not received useful information.”

Moreover, officials from 13 of the 20 local and tribal agencies contacted said that “federal agencies had not defined what suspicious activities or indicators rise to the level of potential terrorist threats and should be reported to federal agencies or fusion centers.”

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