WTC Security Director Details Site’s New Security Plan

Louis Barani is shaping one of the world’s most unique and challenging security strategies at the new World Trade Center. Facilitated by multitudes of stakeholders, Barani is working to provide real-time situational awareness by connecting disparate security and building control systems across the 16-acre site.

Louis Barani is quick on the draw to assert that the unprecedented efforts to secure the World Trade Center (WTC) could not succeed without the work and solidarity of legions of stakeholders. Yet it is Barani, in his role as WTC security director, who is credited with the vision and supervisory wherewithal in bringing to fruition the immensely complex security integration capabilities at the 16-acre site.

Prior to assuming the lead security role for the WTC in 2008, Barani was general manager for security programs at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s Office of Emergency Management. Along with 25 years of government and private-sector experience in security-risk management and critical-infrastructure protection, he served four deployments to Iraq after 9/11 as a Navy reservist.

Today, Barani remains laser-focused on carrying out the development and implementation of a first-of-its-kind security software solution he calls situational awareness platform software [SAPS]. The idea for SAPS was born from Barani’s objective to tie together the disparate electronic security and building control systems throughout the site. In short, SAPS is a hybrid solution that combines physical security information management [PSIM] and physical identity and access management [PIAM] tools.

The SAPS platform made its first shining achievement when it went live for the first time during the 10th anniversary observances of 9/11 at Ground Zero. Much work lies ahead in the years-long project. When reconstruction is finally completed, the WTC will comprise six towers, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a performing arts center, retail shopping, a large transportation hub, a subterranean vehicle security center and more.

In an exclusive conversation with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION, Barani details the work behind a comprehensive security strategy that will balance critical infrastructure protection, emergency operations and business continuity requirements of the WTC with the economic viability of this unique commercial enterprise.

What were the expectations given to you when you took on the WTC security director position?

Louis Barani: Nobody really had a good idea of how the site was going to operate security-wise. They put a lot of time and effort into the design, which took into account design-based threats developed in conjunction with the NYPD and many other factors, such as lessons learned from 9/11. I had to come up with the concept of operations on how the site would work, how we would integrate the different stakeholders and then how we would communicate information. Everybody needs to understand what is going on in the site in case of a negative event or an event that could lead to problems.

I developed a task order-driven program. We started with concept of operation. We took a look at SAPS and the network that was available. We looked at how we were going to get connectivity and communication between all the different components, since each one of them was basically built in a silo. Towers 1, 2, 3 and 4, the memorial, the performing arts center and the vehicle security center were all different silos. There was no communication connectivity around it. We had to figure out how to get communications and situational awareness throughout the site.

What are the components behind SAPS?

Barani: SAPS is really two software pieces. It’s the VidSys [PSIM] software and the Quantum Secure [PIAM] software. They are both powerful tools, but in my mind situational awareness is an event and an identity. Things just don’t happen without someone doing it. So I had to make sure that with 50,000 tenants and more than 1 million visitors annually, and other similar aspects, I had to make sure we could figure out a way to correlate events with identities. I asked VidSys and Quantum Secure to engineer a single-rules engine between them.

How does the single-rules engine work?

Barani: To correlate between event alarms with the VidSys software and ID alarms with Quantum, there has to be a single-rules engine so that they are seamless. It has to act as if it’s a single system. Otherwise you have somebody looking at one system, another person looking at another and then you have human intervention. I wanted to take out as much human intervention as possible. The software is there to do it, but we had to get it together and be able to write single rules.

For example, if someone were to light a fire in one of the buildings, the event would be captured from alarms from the VidSys system and the identity — how the person got up there, identifying that person, and figuring out where he came from and how he got into the building — would come from Quantum.

Describe in general terms the disparate systems SAPS will merge.

Barani: Because of the multiple stakeholders, SAPS goes into multiple systems. Let’s take something easy like CCTV. Right now, we have four different video management systems on the site: Pelco, Genetec, Verint and Avigilon. Normally, these cameras and these VMSs don’t talk to each other. With SAPS I can pull geolocated cameras from each system so I have the best possible situational awareness picture. That’s the same with the access control system. We’re also going to use the f re alarm systems.

Normally, the VidSys system goes into the traditional security system — access control, CCTV and alarm. But I’ve asked them to exercise their capabilities and pull in fire, which has never been done, pull in building management systems, HVAC, elevator control and a couple of others. We want to correlate all these alarms into a single dashboard and fuse the information into a single situation.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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