Judges' Award: Defensor software provides mobile base security
- By Richard W. Walker
- Mar 19, 2004
Defensor Mobile lets personnel at Wright-Patterson control access at the base without being tethered to guard posts.
Personal digital assistants and security don't always go hand in hand.
But they do in Defensor Mobile access management software from Global Bay Mobile Technologies Inc. of Iselin, N.J.
Installed on a handheld PC, the software lets security personnel track and manage the flow of visitors to a secure area.
For example, PDA-wielding guards at a security gate can use a pull-down menu to check names of expected visitors without having to shuffle through cumbersome paper lists, make phone calls to event organizers or go to a central location to check a computer terminal.
'It's designed primarily to be a PDA application,' said Nimit Sabharwal, Global Bay executive vice president. 'Our point of doing it is to mobilize people in the field who don't have access to desktop PCs.'Flexible design
Global Bay officials described Defensor Mobile as less a shrink-wrapped package and more a Web application that allows for significant customization and flexibility in integrating with other applications.
Defensor Mobile grew out of an access-management application that Global Bay wrote for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where about 300,000 visitors enter the base annually for events and meetings.
Using elements of AccessPoint, Global Bay's form- and content-authoring software, company programmers built five modules in C++ for Wright-Patterson's PDA access system, said Sabharwal, manager of the base's project.
The modules include:
- An access list, which lets guards check names against a guest list for a meeting or event
- Driving directions for visitors; guards can retrieve point-to-point directions and print them out wirelessly using infrared technology
- A list of individuals barred from entering the base
- Lists of red-letter alerts and quick-reaction security procedures, which have replaced bulky laminated cards containing the same information
- A list of privately owned weapons registered on the base.
Officials at Wright-Patterson said the system has improved security because personnel are able to spend more time being attentive to what's happening around them.
'Guards are not having to pull out a big pack of paper, look at the list and go through it,' said Michael Barry, manager of the Materiel Systems Group's Mobile Computing Solutions Team at Wright-Patterson. 'They can concentrate on what's happening at the gate and what's coming in.'
The access data is updated every eight hours when guards change shifts and turn in their Palm Inc. handhelds at the base's armory.
Armory personnel place the devices into Ethernet cradles to synchronize them with data from a dedicated Microsoft SQL Server database, which is integrated with the base's Web-based Security Forces Management Information System.
Barry's team is nearing the end of a two-phase, seven-month pilot of Defensor Mobile.
At the end of the pilot, the team will evaluate the system, do a white paper for top brass and look at rolling it out to other bases, Barry said.
'Right now, we have several bases that want the application,' he said. 'But wanting it and getting it funded are two different things.'
Barry said the total cost for Defensor Mobile, including hardware and software, has been about $80,000. 'It's very low cost for the benefit,' he said.
The base cost for the Defensor Mobile software is $30,000, Global Bay officials said. Adding customization to meet specific requirements and implementation runs $40,000 to $60,000.