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Port of Long Beach Fusion Center Opens

02/09/2009 -The Port of Long Beach, California, opened its new $21 million command and control center for port security yesterday, completing a project conceived immediately after the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

The center, which sits on a narrow strip of land within the harbor, controls an assortment of cameras, motion sensors, and security teams that monitor the port's 3,200 sq. ft. and acts as a fusion center for hundreds of local, state, and federal agents that provide security for America's second biggest port,according to the Press-Telegram (of Long Beach).

Inside the center, highly trained security officers from Long Beach mix with port police, divers, Coast Guard officers, federal agents and Navy personnel in a maze of offices and meeting rooms.

Some of the port's 115 cameras are so powerful, operators can read the badge number of someone standing two miles away, saidCosmo Perrone, the port's director of security. Other cameras are armed with facial recognition technology,reports the BBC. The most technologically advanced cameras cost $80,000, paid for by federal funds.

But the most astounding feat may be the port's access to private surveillance networks from other organizations and businesses.

Harbor officials have also linked into hundreds more private security cameras deployed at truck sites, warehouses and rail corridors, a move Perrone championed in recent years as port authorities established unprecedented levels of cooperation between the public and private sectors.

"The integration with terminal operators, railroads, and even other (security) agencies was key to getting this accomplished," Perrone says.

He says the approach not only saved public dollars, but allowed industry to play a role in not only protecting their goods from theft but also safeguarding their properties from terrorist attacks and sabotage.

Sensors placed strategically around the port add another layer of security. When one is tripped, the center will dispatch police officers to check what caused the disturbance. When the sensor is tripped underwater, divers are summoned to inspect ship hulls, wharves, or pilings for anything suspicious.

All this security is for one reason: to keep the port open and moving goods each and every day. If a terrorist attack did occur and the port had to close, estimates say a billion dollars would be lost every day the port failed to open, reports the BBC.