Transportation Vertical Market: Integrated Video and Access Secures Omaha Airport

July 19, 2012
Security Equipment Inc. has secured the Omaha airport for years and recently helped with an access control and video integrated solution.

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of SD&I magazine

Any security dealer who expects to participate in the high-flying area of airport security had better have a strong background both in security systems and a thorough understanding of the nuances that go into making an airport secure.

     It was challenge enough in the pre-9/11 era. Today, the requirements are daunting.

      One company that has proved itself in the field is Security Equipment Inc.(SEi), Omaha, Neb.

The most recent security challenge for SEi included upgrading the access control system and getting it to integrate with an upgraded video monitoring system.

“Over the past 20 years I have spent a considerable amount of time discussing airport security with the Omaha Airport Authority including camera placement, reader placement, delayed egress and extending shunt time on Jetway doors,” said Tom Hruby, executive vice president of SEi. He has been almost as much a fixture around the airport as the ubiquitous ticket kiosks and Jetways.

The 2,650-acre site in Omaha requires the same high level of security and functionality that any airport in the country requires.

“They really wanted to increase their video surveillance coverage and upgrade to IP video while they did that,” Hruby said. “To accomplish this they had to upgrade their entire network infrastructure as the security system has always been on its own proprietary network to eliminate the chance of external breeches,” he continued. 

To do this that had to construct a new IT Room. “Once in place the system allowed for network connectivity to the access control system to program video alarm call up, pre-sets for PTZ cameras, etc.,” he said.

The video system has been up and running successfully for more than six months.

Electrical contracting firm Miller Electric, Omaha, was responsible for the overall project as the General Contractor. They hired a subcontractor to build the new IT Room.

Miller Electric performed the IP video portion of the project. “This project was separate from the access control project that was installed a couple of years earlier,” Hruby notes. “SEi was only involved in the integration piece because we maintain the access control.”

Eppley Airfield is run by the Omaha Airport Authority.

There are 20 carriers that took about 4.3 million passengers, 99 million pounds of cargo and 54 million pounds of mail through the facility.

There are about 90 daily departures from OMA, Nebraska’s largest commercial airport. It is divided into three terminals, Central, North and South.

“In the end, a project this size that utilized federal money required that the system be engineered by a third party,” he continued. That responsibility was given to Alvine & Associates, Omaha.

The result is a state-of-the-art access security. “The current access control system at Eppley Airfield is AMAG Symmetry Enterprise Cluster Aware running on a NEC fault tolerant server,” Hruby said.

Video surveillance

When SEi initially came on board in the late 1980s there was no access control system in the airport. The original spec called for an integrated access and video badging system. Over time the system was upgraded to take advantage of new technology and features including running on a windows operating system.

The new IP video system that was installed replaced the 200 existing analog cameras and added 250 IP devices. The cameras are mostly from Axis Communications with an OnSSI front end video management system. The contractor utilized Garret switches for the network connectivity. 

“The project included a new IT Room complete with HVAC and generator,” Hruby noted. 

The access control system and video system are integrated and are monitored in one location by the same personnel. “We are basically trying to give them actionable video,” Hruby said. “Don’t show me a camera unless there is something to see,” he said. This is accomplished through access control alarms pulling up video to big screens in the control center.

Hruby is quite proud of the short learning curve for the new systems. “It was very easy for the airport’s security people to learn to use and monitor the new setup,” Hruby said. Keep in mind that they had been monitoring the access control system for a number of years along with the analog cameras. “Changing to IP actually made it easier to set up custom viewing preferences that they could not do before,” Hruby said.

The only two software providers are AMAG Technology and OnSSI. The access control readers are AMAG, as well, with Bosch REX motion detectors and Sentrol door contacts.

In the beginning

“SEi got involved with the Omaha Airport Authority in the late 1980s in response to a bid to install an access control system,” Hruby said.  SEi was awarded the bid and installed a Cardkey Access Control System.

SEi later upgraded their system to a Cardkey Pegasys access control system in the mid-1990s. “After successfully maintaining this system for years SEi was awarded a project to replace the access control system with an AMAG access control unit with analog CCTV surveillance cameras in the late 1990s,” he continued.

Hruby has been in the security industry just short of 30 years, his past 25 at SEi. He has held many positions in those 30 years including installation technician, service technician, service manager, installation manager, central station manager, general manager, operations manager and director of Operations. 

SEi is a privately owned company that was started in 1962 by Sid Meridith. “We own and operate our own UL-Listed central station with 15,000-plus customers,” Hruby said. The company realizes about $20 million in annual sales revenue. There are 136 employees in their four offices. In addition to the corporate office in Omaha, there are branch offices in Kansas City, Kan., Des Moines, Iowa and Lincoln, Neb.

The next step at the Omaha Airport will be to help the monitoring personnel extract more data through the utilization of video analytics. “Again, we want to show video that means something,” Hruby stated.