For GTSI, surveillance is super

Football fans at next year's Super Bowl will enjoy the festivities under the watchful eye of Jacksonville, Fla., law enforcement officials thanks to technology from GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Va.

GTSI recently won a $1.7 million contract from Jacksonville to build a video surveillance system for Super Bowl XXXIX, which is scheduled for Feb. 6 at Alltel Stadium.

GTSI and its partners, DMJM Technology of Arlington, Va., and Quality Communications Fire and Security Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will build a network of about 100 cameras that will monitor the stadium and areas of downtown Jacksonville, said the city's chief information officer, Dave Lauer. It is expected to be operational by December and could be tested during the Jacksonville Jaguars' regular season football games.

"This is not just any kind of win for GTSI. It clearly indicates our capabilities beyond IT," said Arpad Toth, GTSI's senior technologist. "Now we're moving into homeland security protection."

Both DMJM Technology and Quality Communications are part of GTSI's InteGuard Alliance, a group of companies that specialize in security products and services. GTSI founded the alliance in March to build integrated solutions for government agencies.

Jacksonville officials said they intend to avoid the controversy that surrounded a surveillance system at another Florida-hosted Super Bowl. In 2001, Tampa officials used video surveillance and facial recognition technology to scan the crowd and compare faces with digital mug shots.

Tampa's program incurred the wrath of privacy advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, especially when police expanded the system citywide. The city eventually abandoned the system because the facial recognition software didn't work well enough.

Lauer said his group was aware of Tampa's experiment when it started looking for a video surveillance system and insisted his city's is different. The GTSI-built solution initially will not include facial recognition technology, although in the future, it could, he said. The city also intends to use the video surveillance system long after the Super Bowl is over.

"There are [privacy] concerns out there," Lauer said. "We're working with our general counsel's office to put together a policy making sure the system is used effectively. The policy will be issued to law enforcement agencies to help protect citizens' privacy."

Jacksonville also might bring onto the project another member of the InteGuard Alliance, Reston, Va.-based ObjectVideo Inc., which makes software that automatically analyzes surveillance video data to help identify potential security breaches. Currently, the Jacksonville Port Authority uses ObjectVideo software in its security systems.

"If we find out they've had success with ObjectVideo at the port authority, we may try and incorporate some of those features into this solution," Lauer said. n

Staff Writer Brad Grimes can be reached at bgrimes@postnewsweektech.com.

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