Busy Louisiana port deploys behavioral analytics

BRS Labs' system complements facility's next-generation security
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

LAFOURCHE, La.—Port Fourchon is implementing a behavioral analytics system that will make the port’s security among the best in the nation, according to its director of technology.

AISight, from BRS Labs and integrated by Crescent Guardian, uses video feeds to "learn" behavior and sends an alert when it finds something unusual going on. First responders receive "as they happen" alerts and can respond in real time.

The system does not require "upfront” rules. "In the past you had to write a rule for every camera, even if there were a thousand cameras. Anticipating everything that could arise is impossible," said Ray Cavanagh, vice president of Crescent Guardian.

More than 95 percent of the tonnage handled at the multi-use, deep-water Port Fourchon is oil- and gas-related. Some 1,200 trucks travel to and from the port each day, as well as barges.

The port has an overarching security system, called the Maritime Domain Awareness System [MDAS], which includes next-generation video surveillance. "I can't speak highly enough about that," Cavanagh said. "They have high concerns for security; their system is highly developed."

The MDAS allows local, state and federal agencies to collaborate and be more proactive. April Danos, the port's director of technology, wanted to bring the system's technology and data into a common operating picture to allow those agencies to collaborate over multiple networks. The BRS system was one component of that, Cavanagh said.

"We're at the point where it's still in IT's hands," Danos said. "So far it's great, working from the back end. We're still tweaking the alerts and developing SOPs. It's not only going to help us with security, but also with our day-to-day operations."

The behavioral recognition aspect will be in the hands of port police officers in May, she said.

In addition to alerting when traffic is unusually heavy at a time when it normally isn't, for example, the system can also issue a warning when a ship is approaching a dock too fast or at the wrong angle, said Cavanagh, who is a member of the ASIS Physical Security Council.

Ports have tried video analytics in the past, said Bruce Whitaker, BRS vice president of business development. "They never panned out because they were rules-based analytics," he said.

"There was no way to expect the unexpected," added Joel Deitch, with strategic communications at BRS. "That was the fundamental challenge. By concentrating on behavior, we simply go out there and find what is normal and alert on what isn't."

The system learns to prioritize alerts and takes into account changes in landscaping and weather conditions.

It's a system that would benefit end users across the verticals, Cavanagh said. "Anytime you can anticipate any type of security threat, prevention rather than remediation is the way to go," he said. It saves time, money, aggravation, prosecution costs and more, he said.