G-8 to use counterterror system

Homeland Security Department officials have implemented their secure Internet-based counterterrorism communications system for the Group of Eight (G-8) Summit that will be held at Sea Island, Ga., June 8-10.

The Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) was launched in late February as a way to share real-time, encrypted threat information deemed sensitive-but-unclassified among federal, state and local homeland security officials and law enforcement personnel. It provides around-the-clock connectivity with the department's Homeland Security Operations Center.

"We believe that the use of this system is critical in providing a more secure environment for not only the G-8 Summit but for other upcoming special events nationally," Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for DHS's Border and Transportation Security Directorate, said in a press release.

HSIN expands the Joint Regional Information Exchange System, a network government officials in New York and California were developing with the Defense Intelligence Agency for the past several years. It provides secure e-mail, interactive text and voice communications and search and map displays among other types of information.

HSIN participants for the summit received software licenses, technology and training. In addition law enforcement users, the Coast Guard, National Guard, state emergency officials and other first responders are using the system. Future program expansion will provide "county-level communication at the classified-secret level" and involvement of the private sector.

Additionally, an intelligent video surveillance camera system and other physical security sensors have also been installed for the summit. VistaScape Security Systems developed the software that allows users to define virtual barriers on a digital map, providing a much more comprehensive and efficient view of an area.

The system, which can work with any type of camera, provides rules or criteria for the different cameras deployed throughout an area. For example, the system could alert personnel if an individual or vehicle enters a particular area within a camera's field of vision and to ignore birds. More such smart surveillance systems are being used in critical infrastructure areas.

Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, in addition to representatives from the European Union, attend the G-8 Summit to discuss a variety of economic, political and security issues.

Sea Island is located on the southern portion of the Georgia coastline 80 miles from Savannah.

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