Lifting Off with Advanced Security Technology

San Diego International Airport aviation security director Mark Denari is deploying network-based automation and video analytics


Airport workers, security personnel, and law enforcement officers are all charged with detecting intrusions to an airport’s most sensitive areas. Thus, they represent a critical component of security operations.

Human resources alone, however, cannot provide the pervasive detection capabilities needed to counter the precipitous rise in terrorism that threatens the commercial air transportation industry. It is impractical — if not impossible — to deploy enough security personnel for ubiquitous airport coverage. Other employees have different primary responsibilities and can focus only so much of their attention on security issues.
In response, agencies such as the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority are designing comprehensive security systems that use advanced network and digital surveillance technologies — in the hopes of transitioning to far more automated and effective security operations. Such systems would enable the sharing of relevant security event information — both real-time and historical — among appropriate personnel at the airport and in affiliated government agencies. They would do so by extending human resource detection capabilities with technologically smart devices that connect to communications networks and operations centers.

Video Evolution
Digital Video Surveillance forms the foundation of a complex technology puzzle that, when enhanced with advanced software applications, helps fill human detection gaps. Surveillance cameras have traditionally been installed at sensitive security locations, where they have recorded and archived incidents primarily for the purpose of identifying intruders after breaches occur. Even as airports have moved from analog to digital video technology, most applications still center on reviewing stored video after incidents occur. Moving video surveillance from a reactive to a proactive activity, though, greatly improves the protection of passengers, aircraft and airport property.

The Transportation Security Administration’s “49 Code of Federal Regulations – Part 1542 — Airport Security” requires that airport operators: “prevent and detect the unauthorized entry, presence and movement of individuals and ground vehicles into and within security controlled areas.”
To that end, San Diego International Airport is working toward integrating existing security systems with IP cameras, intelligent sensors, radar systems, specialized video analytics applications, command-and-control software, and network connectivity to immediately detect potential threats.
The airport’s objective is to thwart security breaches while improving situational awareness in several interior and exterior high-risk locations. Taken together, awareness in these locations provides security personnel with a holistic awareness of the overall airport domain — thus facilitating a dynamic security operation centered on detection, event correlation, alerts, alarms and resolution.

While IP cameras and networked video are not new, advances in information technology and IT standards now make it more practical to connect surveillance cameras to an organization’s communications and data network. These same IT standards also enable the airport to optimize network bandwidth and storage resources, along with interoperability between video and other security applications, and they make the video content accessible to authorized network-connected devices, such as user terminals in the airport’s security operations center (SOC).

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