How New Video Surveillance Technology Boosts Airport Security And Operations

Updated: Nov 14, 2019


The air travel industry has evolved from one commercial passenger on the first commercial flight in 1914 to an estimated 100,000 flights per day. According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the total number of passengers who flew in 2019 is expected to reach 3.8 billion.


But it’s not just people who fly. Each day, more than $18.6 billion of goods travel by air, which represents one-third of all world trade, by value. Meanwhile, the aviation industry supports more than 63 million jobs and generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity. According to the IATA, 3.5% of the global economy relies on aviation.



Evolving Airport Security For Today’s Demands


Airport security continues to evolve as well, as security personnel strive to keep ahead of increasing threats and the compliance issues enacted to help address them. It’s taken nearly 40 years to progress from the first widespread use of X-ray scans and metal detectors to today’s full-body imaging and video surveillance solutions to mitigate security breaches and other critical security challenges.


Employing airport security solutions is a complex situation with myriad government, state and local rules and regulations that need to be addressed while ensuring the comfort needs of passengers. Airport security is further challenged with improving and increasing operational efficiencies, as budgets are always an issue. As an example, security and operational data must be easily shared with other airport departments and local agencies such as police, customs, emergency response and airport operations to drive a more proactive approach across the organisation.



New Surveillance Technologies


To manage these and other issues facing the aviation industry, airport security management is increasingly looking to leverage new surveillance technologies to help streamline operations and to build stronger security programs. New and enhanced surveillance technologies such as powerful open platform Video Management Systems (VMS), HD panoramic cameras, and highly specialised video analytics are at the heart of today’s advanced networked surveillance solutions for airports and aviation facilities.


Protecting The Perimeter


As an example, many airport perimeters are quite extensive in size, irregular in shape, and subject to compromised visibility due to poor lighting. Compounding the security challenge, these perimeters are often protected only by simple fences that can be easily scaled or broken through, and areas outside the fences may include wild forests in rural areas or residential and commercial buildings in more populous regions. All of these factors make it all the more difficult – and all the more important – to keep watch on perimeter areas.



Analytics Boosts Effectiveness


Camera coverage is the first step for monitoring the perimeter, but to improve the monitoring of these areas, airports can automate much of the monitoring, threat identification and notification needed to keep the entire premises safe by implementing video analytics. Market-leading offerings now include cameras with built-in analytic functions to make it easier and more effective to implement improved detection. For example, some of the more commonly available functions now include perimeter crossing, intrusion detection, object left behind, object missing, and wrong direction.

With these functions already built in, today’s high-performance security cameras not only capture clear video but can also employ analytics to monitor the field of view. In the case of an airport perimeter, analytics can be set up to automatically monitor a fence line to detect breaches or potential breaches while filtering out false alarms from small animals or blowing debris and alert authorities quickly when action is needed.


Surveillance cameras can also be easily deployed over a perimeter to quickly detect and identify causes of perimeter breaches, and provide instant alerts to notify personnel where the breach is occurring, reducing the need for security personnel to physically monitor miles of perimeter fencing. In fact, surveillance technologies allow the creation of virtual fences which can send a security team proactive notices of suspicious activity.



VMS Systems Control With Confidence


All perimeter surveillance solutions can be integrated with an airport’s VMS, providing users with an easy-to-manage centralised hub to monitor and manage airport security. Overall, a perimeter security solution can help keep unauthorised individuals away from runways, taxiways, aircraft and other airport infrastructure in all types of weather conditions and environments.


Within other restricted areas of an airport, such as parking lots, garages and secured areas, surveillance solutions are available to reduce risk and improve security. In a parking garage, IP cameras and a VMS can integrate third-party analytics to quickly identify and alert personnel when unauthorised vehicles have entered a restricted area, including vehicles with license plates on watch lists. When an alert is detected, data from third-party vehicle tracking software can be accessed via the VMS to monitor and track the vehicles activity while security personnel get into position to investigate further.





Preventing Theft In Airports


On the tarmac and inside baggage handling areas, loss or theft of luggage and other high-ticket items not only cause brand damage to an airport or airline, but complaints from travellers. A CNN analysis of passenger property loss claims filed with the TSA from 2010 to 2014 shows 30,621 claims of missing valuables, mostly packed in checked luggage. The rest occurred at security checkpoints. Total property loss claimed is estimated at $2.5 million.

Security technology can mitigate the issue with IP cameras and VMS integrated with a Baggage Handling Systems (BHS) to automatically validate system operation and abnormal behaviours. This allows security and operations management to see where and why alarms are triggered so they can quickly respond and mitigate the problem.



Monitoring Crowds And Foot Traffic


Inside an airport, VMS solutions with analytics capabilities can monitor crowd movements and anticipate and proactively respond to choke points, crowd patterns and foot traffic flow to reduce risk and improve security. The solutions can quickly and efficiently locate a person of interest, such as a lost child, for example, and search for shirt colour, estimated height to facial features, and more. With the ability to track via recorded and live video, security personnel can start their search from the moment the child was last seen and track their movement throughout the entire airport.


Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), Nigeria’s preeminent air terminal, is one example of an airport that is benefitting from a security technology upgrade to mitigate security threats. The airport is using an open platform VideoXpert™ Video Management System (VMS) in addition to a combination of low-light cameras and high-resolution dome cameras to secure its parking structure, perimeter, baggage claim points, cargo area and other parts of the airport.


The security cameras are providing airport security with high-quality images, motion detection, advanced tracking capabilities, and on-board analytics, while the VMS is unifying operational and security data via a single user interface and allowing airport security to be more proactive in its incident response.



People Counting And ANPR


In the U.S., a large cargo airport has employed 1,100 IP video cameras with a new Video Management System (VMS) solution to address the entire airport’s needs, including security and surveillance. The solution not only features crystal clear images, but also can archive video for 30 days at 30 images per second.


A VMS manages the system and provides valuable analytics, including people-counting and number plate capture. It will soon add an enterprise security solution to improve access control system management and integration with the VMS.


Airports around the world are increasingly realising the benefits of advanced surveillance solutions to drive operational intelligence and provide comprehensive situational awareness. As the transportation industry continues to expand, so will their use of more advanced surveillance systems on the enterprise level that incorporate even higher levels of system control and management, wide area coverage imaging solutions, and intelligence to keep passengers safe and operations running smoothly.





© De Angelis & Associates 2019. All Rights Reserved.

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