Tallahassee Airport Joins High Security Project

A $1 million grant program at Tallahassee Regional Airport may help improve security at airports nationwide by using computers and video cameras to analyze and report suspicious behavior, officials said Thursday.

"It's a research grant that we are very excited to be a part of," David Pollard, superintendent of airport operations, said of the Transportation Security Administration's 12-month project at the airport.

Tallahassee Regional and the airport in Helena, Mont., were selected for the research and design project by the TSA, which is trying to find ways to help airports improve security by using computer software that analyzes video and other tracking measures.

"We emphasize detection, delay and response," said Quinten T. Johnson, federal security director for TSA at Tallahassee Regional.

Two software companies - G5 Technologies of Cherry Hill, N.J., and Vidient Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif. - are meeting with Tallahassee Regional officials to help design a system.

Johnson said TSA officials are looking for a system that can be designed to meet each airport's security needs.

He said O'Hare International Airportin Chicago has a "smart fence" along part of the airport perimeter that is designed to identify intruders.

But the fence is in a high-traffic area and must be able to distinguish between debris hitting the fence and a possible intruder, Johnson said.

Tallahassee's airport is surrounded by largely rural areas, Johnson said, so software used here would need to be different than that used in Chicago.

Bill Adams, CEO of G5 Technologies, says the key ingredient in customizing software is getting information from local airport officials about their security needs.

Adams said the software uses information from existing security systems plus some advanced sensors to analyze data - including human behavior - and alert authorities to possible security problems.

The software can provide the exact location of the activity in a 3-D image that's sent to security personnel via laptop computers or personal digital assistants, Adams said.

Johnson said at the end of the year-long project, TSA officials will analyze the results and decide how the project fits in with overall security measures at airports around the country.

(c) Associated Press