Collaborating and constantly adapting: The World Trade Center security team at work

Diebold and DVS secure site for 10th anniversary observance on 9/11/11 and beyond
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

NEW YORK—The World Trade Center security team of engineers from Ducibella, Venter & Santore and integrators from Diebold spend a lot of time together.

They have official meetings at least twice a week to track progress. Since the collaboration began early this spring, long days have been the norm. And, with the Sept. 11 opening of the Memorial site approaching, longer days along with unofficial dinner and breakfast meetings are increasingly common.

“Normally when you work with an integrator who’s been awarded a project you spec, we check in with each other from time to time to check on progress. This is very, very different from that,” said Brian Coulombe, associate with DVS.

On September 11, 2011, President Obama, diplomats, heads of state, families of the 9/11 victims and others will gather for the official opening of the 9/11 Memorial. The next day, September 12, the 9/11 Memorial Plaza at the WTC site will be open to the public. This location, which has arguably the highest threat profile in the world, will be both an open public space and a construction site for the next few years.

DVS and Diebold are working together on two security projects on the site: the installation of site-wide Situational Awareness Platform Software (SAPS); and a perimeter access control and surveillance system that will remain in place for the multi-year construction phase of the WTC project.

Core members of the two teams met with Security Systems News over the course of two days in August to talk about how they’re working together to prepare for the opening on Sept. 11, and beyond.

The group included Phil Santore, principal of DVS, and his team: Frank Santamorena; Brian Coulombe; Kathryn Bartunek; and John DeGeorge. From Diebold the group included Kevin Engelhardt, GM and VP of Enterprise Security Systems; Paul Woods, director field operations, Enterprise Security Systems; and Nelson Barreto, sales team leader, Northeast Transportation & Critical Infrastructure.

Most of this group regularly attends the twice-weekly DVS/Diebold meetings, as do two different skilled project managers from Diebold, representation from SAPS manufacturers Quantum Secure and Vidsys, project managers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and various other stakeholders, depending on the issues to be discussed.

“The SAPS program is an incredibly ambitious project that requires unprecedented coordination among the integrator, engineer and owner and the most important way we accomplish that is to get together each week to hash out all of the issues,” Coulombe said.

How long do the meetings take? “Two, three hours ... however long it takes,” John DeGeorge said, adding that that there are always problems to be solved, disagreements to be resolved and decisions to be made.

“We have an agenda for each meeting that focuses on critical tasks and milestones ... and we also have project tracking. There are multiple flow charts, scheduled break-out sessions, managerial coordinations,” explained Kathryn Bartunek.

The regular, all-hands-on-deck meetings are essential to meeting the upcoming deadline for the Sept. 11 opening, said Santore. “Having all the players at the table means decisions can be made more quickly,” he said. “Instead of being delayed by weeks like you would be in a typical construction environment, you get answers in hours or days.”

Additionally, Santore said, the teams met very early on in the process for a strategy session and decided that “tasks get done by the next meeting. We’re on a deadline.”

The SAPS program is what the World Trade Center Security department told SSN in an interview last November is like “a PSIM on steroids.”

To create the newly named SAPS program, Diebold worked with physical security information management software provider VidSys and with physical identity and access management (PIAM) provider Quantum Secure to create a software platform that will eventually tie in security systems from multiple buildings on the site.

“As the property owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey realized it would be very important to have one coordinated way to look at the site—one monitoring intelligent interface,” Bartunek said.

 While every building will have its own command center, SAPS “will allow the Sitewide Command Center to have a bird’s eye view on the entire site,” Santore added.

“SAPS will put together various instances and alerts—what may seem to be small occurrences [in two different buildings for example]—and link them together to detect a greater threat to the site. Not only the site itself, but threats to institutions that surround the site, to the region and potentially to a larger geographic area,” Bartunek said.

In addition, SAPS not only detects trends that suggest a high threat to the site, it provides guidance for operators in the case of an emergency.

Eventually SAPS will tie in 11 different buildings—five skyscrapers, a major transportation hub, the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, a retail venue, a performing arts center, vehicle screening center and a central chiller plant.

“Each building has seven or eight systems, and there are different manufacturers [of systems] in each building,” said Diebold’s Nelson Barreto. “It’s not just traditional [video, intrusion and] fire, but building management systems, intercom, elevators [CBRN (chemical, biological radiological and nuclear detection systems), as well as vehicle scheduling and management systems.] There’s that whole piece, but it also ties in identity management as well,” Barreto added.

Access to the site is one of Diebold’s projects, and everyone who has access to the site is vetted through a detailed background check. They’re issued a prox card that includes a biometric, Barreto said.

Building SAPS involved a lot of outreach to different building owners, stakeholders and also to the Port Authority. Since SAPS is a rule-based system, Diebold and DVS had to coordinate with the different building owners to implement and integrate SAPS with the rules in each building’s or facility’s individual Security Operations Center. Other stakeholders include the City of New York, which owns and operates the 9/11 memorial.

SAPS is created to be a platform that “limits obsolescence,” DeGeorge said. It’s scalable, able to integrate planned technologies such as mass notification software, vehicle screening software, as well as other systems down the road that haven’t yet been developed, he said.

In terms of how it works with other systems, DeGeorge describes it as “technology agnostic and data specific.”

How did Diebold ensure that the SAPS system would work when it is deployed in the field?

Diebold created “a replica of the Port environment, a kind of mini-SAPS in our shop to see how the softwares communicate, so we can work out any problems and see potholes way in advance,” said Diebold’s Kevin Engelhardt.

While it’s not unusual for Diebold to create this kind of test bed, the scale of the replica itself is exceptional, as is the number of partners who’ve been involved with the test bed at Diebold.

“We can’t afford to deploy and have something go wrong,” said Diebold’s Paul Woods. Creating a whole scale environment made sense “with all the different servers and software and computers and the different manufacturers of software and the different versions [we’re dealing with.]”

“SAPS is not easy to understand, but there are a lot of people who have a vested interest in understanding what SAPS will do at the site. So Diebold [can demonstrate this] great mini SAPS system for [manufacturers and other stakeholders] to see how it works and help them understand the concept before they see it in the field,” Coulombe pointed out.

Diebold has had manufacturers, the Port Authority, property management personnel and the fire department in to show them the system and get their feedback. “We listened to what property management said would help them address the system and members of the fire department gave us ideas,” said Woods. There’s a training element to some of these visits, but “we get their input and their buy in,” he said

The second project that Diebold and DVS are working on is the perimeter access control and surveillance project.

Many of the details of the temporary measures that are being put in place on the site cannot be publicly discussed, but Coulombe said one of the most interesting elements of the project is the task of “protecting the plaza from the construction and vice versa.” With massive construction several stories underground and hundreds of stories above ground going on simultaneously, “you go away for a week and when you return it looks like an entirely different site.”

Because of the fluidity of the construction site itself, DVS didn’t have the luxury of developing a security design six months ago. “We were forced to wait until the last possible minute, get a snapshot of the site and design around that. And that requires incredible mobility on the part of Diebold and DVS,” Coulombe said. “You have to design and build on short notice, while keeping an eye on what will change on the site next week and constantly adapting to what’s going on in the field.”

Even if you’re planning carefully and are in contact with other entities on the site, they’re dealing with their own delays and changes. The security operation must work around this.

“The success of interim security depends on the Port Authority, Diebold and our (DVS’s) ability to adapt to change. And change happens on a daily basis,” Coulombe said.

Since construction will be ongoing for a few years, the temporary security measures are fairly long term. With the upcoming 9/11 anniversary, however, the final plan had to be put in place for that event.

The group has to stop getting ready to get ready. At the beginning of August, the teams were approaching that point for the upcoming Sept. 11 opening.

Santore envisions the week before the event to be considerably quieter than weeks in the past two years. The temporary work will be done until after the celebration.

“It’s a sprint to the finish on 9/11/11,” Coulombe said,  “and then on 9/12/11, we begin a whole new, much-longer phase of the project.”