Grand Israeli designs to keep sensitive American sites safe

‘With Lighthouse, security planners and decision makers can plan defense arrays themselves, taking into account all the constraints and issues – budgetary, engineering, and environmental – Ittai Bar Yosef.Here’s the problem. You’ve got a sensitive installation which could be a …

‘With Lighthouse, security planners and decision makers can plan defense arrays themselves, taking into account all the constraints and issues – budgetary, engineering, and environmental – Ittai Bar Yosef.Here’s the problem. You’ve got a sensitive installation which could be a prime target for a terrorist attack – someplace like an airport, a border, a water installation. You’ve got the funds to secure the site. But what you don’t have is the knowledge about where to put the sensors and the lights for maximum effectiveness, how to best secure that blind spot, and how not to destroy the acreage of natural landscape surrounding the installation.

Enter Lighthouse, an Israeli-developed CAD (computer-aided design) program that enables the automation of perimeter security planning including sensor arrays, obstacles, and other measures used to provide buffer zone protection for highways, airports, borders, military facilities and other strategic infrastructure sites.

Lighthouse is the showcase product of DefenSoft, a four-year-old company based in Yokneam, near Haifa. According to the company’s chief operating officer Ittai Bar Joseph, concerns about terror threats, illegal immigration and crime have made buffer zone protection at borders and strategic infrastructure sites a global priority. And security planners and infrastructure designers involved in planning defense arrays that incorporate both physical infrastructures and advanced sensor technology, now play a key role in enhancing homeland security.

“With Lighthouse, security planners and decision makers can plan defense arrays themselves, taking into account all the constraints and issues – budgetary, engineering, and environmental,” he told ISRAEL21c.

Using digital terrain models, aerial and satellite imagery, GIS technology, sensor specifications, engineering and environmental data, Lighthouse creates a highly accurate 3D interactive representation of the defense array. The Lighthouse helps users analyze the terrain, identify weak spots, define physical obstacles, propose location of obstacles, and analyze technological obstacles.

As Bar Joseph rattles off a list of the sites in Israel that the Lighthouse has been instrumental in safeguarding, it sounds like a lesson in current events. The system has been used successfully by Israel’s defense community for key projects on the borders with Egypt, the West Bank and Gaza. Civilian projects include the perimeter of Ben Gurion International Airport, and strategic water installation security for Mekorot, Israel’s national water carrier.

The company’s track record in Israel is so attractive that American private equity group Athlone Global Security, Inc., (AGS) has acquired a minority 15% interest in the company.

“DefenSoft’s technology makes it possible for civil engineers to use maps to decide precisely where to position cameras or other sensor devices to make government installations as well as public airports, railroads and other critical infrastructure secure. This planning tool saves engineers from having to visit the site in person, and speeds the process of design and installation of security equipment for sensitive structures,” said Gordon Hawke, president and CEO of AGS.

According to Bar Joseph, the involvement of AGS will enable DefenSoft to expand to the American market.

“The funding we’ve received from AGS will be used to introduce the Lighthouse to American homeland security industry,” he said.

“As we talk, we’re opening a US subsidiary, to be run by a local US staff. We’ve been to trade shows and demonstrated the Lighthouse to various potential customers, and the overwhelmingly positive response is the reason why we’re opening the US office.

The Lighthouse gives a full scale solution to a big market – to many diverse customers who don’t have a specific solution to their problem.”

Bar Joseph’s problem was finding time to sit down and talk about DefenSoft. Between focusing on establishing the US office of the company, and his other regular tasks, he’s been lately summoned to give testimony as a state witness to various petitions to the High Court against building the security fence or other installations that could potentially impede on human rights.

“These are crazy days – but good crazy days,” he laughed as he recounted the company’s origins.

“I was one of five co-founders – all of us are now in our mid-to-late 30s. Our CEO Shay Peretz was a field officer in the army and we all served in field intelligence. So we had a general idea of where we were going, but we sort of developed the Lighthouse on the run. We learned a lot from our customers and clients,” said Bar-Joseph.

With the R&D backing of the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel, in less than a year the company had started generating revenue, and within a year and a half, they had signed their first contracts with the IDF and the Defense Ministry.

“That’s pretty spectacular for a young company,” he said.

Today, with 20 employees and a fledgling operation in the US, DefenSoft is beginning to realize its potential. But Bar Joseph says there are no plans to rest on their laurels.

“Our current focus is still on the Lighthouse, and we’re developing quite a few new applications and features for it. But at the same time, we’re rapidly developing future systems.”