A New Kind of Access Control Portal for Airports?

The soda can falls to the ground, setting off alarms and flashing red lights. An overhead sign illuminates: "'DO NOT ENTER." Remote cameras pan to the spot beneath the sign, taking multiple-angle photos of anyone standing there. Warning e-mails are sent to airport police. Still photos automatically appear on the officers' Palm Pilot screens.

Paranoid? Maybe. But this is the airport exit of the future.

Today, the culprit is a soda can thrown through the exit to demonstrate that an inanimate object -- a gun, knife, soda can -- will set off the alarms, just as a person would.

The demonstration was performed Tuesday afternoon in the exhibit hall of the annual American Association of Airline Executives conference in Seattle. This new generation XControl 2 airport exit from ADT's Federal Systems Division is expected to come to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in August.

By restricting the flow of exits to one way, developers say the XControl 2 should be able to:

- Identify anyone who tries to breach, intentionally or accidentally, an airport exit.

- Prevent weapons, drugs and other inanimate objects from being thrown into a revolving exit and picked up by someone on the other side.

- Cut the time from when a breach occurs to when the person is found, and, officials hope, avoid the need to clear a terminal of passengers.

- Eliminate the need for that bored-looking worker at the door, whose sole job is to make sure nobody enters through an exit.

"We're hopeful they will be a success," said Jim Crites, D/FW's executive vice president of operations. "They could dramatically enhance security at revolving exit doors, while reducing manpower costs."

The D/FW Airport Board will vote Thursday on whether to buy a prototype of the $144,000 door. ADT officials, who have been working for four months on a design to suit D/FW's revolving doors, said talks are in the works for the purchase of 31 units if all goes well. That is a decision for the future, but D/FW officials are said to be "thrilled" with the technology, Crites said.

D/FW has had earlier versions of XControl in Terminal B for the past four or five years. The new version is less bulky, works faster and has a better video-monitoring system.

Automated systems "don't sleep, take vacations or take breaks," ADT Vice President Paul Brisgone said.

The system can cover an area ranging from doorways to the size of a hallway. D/FW is looking to link it to the airport's closed-circuit camera system. The system also gives silent alarms and is carefully camouflaged by airport decor.

On the other hand, sometimes the paranoid look -- a big DO NOT ENTER sign and flashing red lights -- are the key deterrent, ADT aviation group product manager Peter Davis said.

As it has since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, security displays dominated the exhibit hall of the American Association of Airline Executives conference.

Two years ago, the Explosive Trace Detection portals were the exhibit stars. The Transportation Security Administration will debut such portals at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport this summer.

Last year, perimeter security got the buzz, as airports adopted a more militarized approach to keep people safe.

This year, companies offering baggage-handling systems are in vogue. Displays provide information that may have been considered security-sensitive in the past, but is part of sales pitches.

Throughout this conference, D/FW has been an oft-repeated discussion point, as multiple vendors seek to point out the role they played in Terminal D, Skylink people mover or the airport's inline baggage system.