A Winning Combination....First Runner-Up:

Oct. 27, 2008
Several security technologies were combined to form a holistic solution at Tallahassee Regional Airport

The security industry's gradual transition to IP-based security equipment and processes has opened up a new world to potential end-users. Technology such as smart sensors, intelligent cameras and more can produce heavy amounts of data in the command and control center of any security operation.

At Tallahassee Regional Airport in Florida 's state capital, dispatchers and operators in the security command center were scrambling around, trying to figure out what to do with so much data coming in from different technological sources. “They were always in reactive mode,” says Brooks McChesney, founder and executive vice president of Vidient Systems, one of the technology suppliers for the airport.

Tallahassee Regional went on to deploy a technology-driven response system with the help of federal funding. The security project, which combined several technologies to provide a holistic solution, was named the runner-up in Security Technology & Design's Security Innovation Award competition (For more on the competition, see page 24 of the September issue of ST&D).

Tying it Together with RAPIN

Tallahassee Regional Airport received a Cooperative Agreement grant from October 2005 through the end of 2006 for the Rapid Intrusion Interception and Neutralization (RAPIN) system. The project focused on the airport's communication technologies — both hardware and software — required for rapid intruder interception and neutralization.

“The RAPIN system integrates all the various sensor-based nodes on their network, so when an alarm is generated, everything is integrated into one command-and-control interface,” McChesney says. “That way, operators can make a better decision as to where to deploy security personnel, etc.”

A compact solution of servers and software products called the Automated Warning and Response Engine (AWARE) was also created. AWARE provides technological advantages to the personnel responsible for the interception and neutralization of potential intruders and airport emergencies. This advantage is gained by integrating existing security subsystems deployed by the airport into a semi-autonomous situational awareness center.

Intelligent software is included to assist the security personnel in monitoring the terminal (internal and external) and AOA (Airport Operations Area) areas. Automatic alerts are sent via a wireless network that links airport security and local law enforcement agencies for the efficient interception and neutralization of threats. AWARE is a highly replicable approach for other large airports or general aviation airports that have security measures such as cameras, access control systems and other perimeter intruder detection systems.

The existing security subsystems that were integrated included a new perimeter fence, the access control system and the video surveillance systems. Technologies introduced included video analytics, a laser-based fence detection system, intelligent wireless network nodes, and a geospatial information system.

System Design

The geospatial information system integrated all servers and devices, including the CCTV system, fiber fence sensor, intelligent video and access control. The intelligent video detects the policy violation and a video clip is captured and displayed in the Geo-COP (Common Operational Picture). The operator takes appropriate action and sends the security officer the image on a PDA. All alarms are logged with their respective video clips for sorting and analysis.

“This systems design is a perfect way to maximize resources,” says Bill Adams, founder and CEO of CT Solutions LLC, which assisted in the integration process. “We conducted a comprehensive survey and risk analysis and determined that this was the best course of action.”

The airport integrated data from the City of Tallahassee 's geospatial information department to incorporate data on the location of fire hydrants, gas lines, and water lines to assist first responders. A geospatial information system was the integration point for all alarms and interface to the security personnel. The project demonstrated the ability to build on these sub-systems through a wireless mesh communications network to dramatically improve the ability of security and emergency personnel to understand and respond to threats and emergencies via their PDAs.

Interviews were conducted with airport, local law enforcement, and TSA staff to observe the airport in operation. Following this stage, in order to achieve the design objectives, it was necessary to securely expand the airport's LAN to the outer perimeter to enable new sensor installation. The objective of this task was to effectively detect all intrusion attempts while minimizing the occurrence of false alarms. The system software looks at multiple sensor system inputs to determine if alarms are real.

The design and development of a highly usable interface contribute significantly to the operational utility of RAPIN. Complex information was presented in a form that could be easily comprehended, unambiguously understood, and organized to quickly draw the operator's attention to the most important factors.

Extending the LAN to the entire AOA also provided the ability to install access points for WiFi communication to roaming first responders. Together, the extended LAN, sensors, system software and common operational picture function provided the backbone for demonstrating the project goals and succeeded in creating the test-bed for expansion and future development.

Getting the Most out of Intelligent Video

The site survey included a detailed review to determine sensitive security requirements and how best to use intelligent video analytics to increase security awareness. Nineteen CCTV cameras running Vidient SmartCatch from Vidient Systems Inc. were installed. These cameras can detect numerous suspicious behaviors, including human and vehicle tailgating, unattended objects, loitering and perimeter breaches. The cameras sense and identify people, vehicles, and aircraft in both the general aviation and terminal areas, and alerts are produced both visually and audibly. The identification data is successfully made available through a data stream captured by the GIS interface.

The video processing power and the intelligent video viewer were installed in the SOC to provide security personnel with direct access to security alerts. The intelligent video was also integrated with the Geo-COP system to allow security personnel to easily access security alerts and other pertinent information in one GUI.

“By bringing processing power directly to the edge, we are taking intelligent video solutions to the next level,” said Brooks McChesney, Founder and Executive Vice President of Vidient. “Networked video analytics are the pulse of the security system and we have made them more scalable and interoperable than ever. These IV solutions run seamlessly without disrupting network performance.”

Protecting the Perimeter

The location-sensing intrusion detection system uses a fence-mounted fiber-optic vibration sensor to detect and pinpoint attempts to climb over or cut through the airport's perimeter fences. The system reports alarms and breach locations to a local or remote alarm management station, which can use this information to point security cameras at the reported location and to notify security personnel. A single sensor can monitor the entire fence line of a typical airport, while requiring no power or communication infrastructure in the field.

A solar-powered PTZ camera is located at the midpoint of the installation and can be used to validate alarm and track intruders. The camera is an IP camera connected to a mesh radio so no wiring or power from the facility is required. This functionality demonstrates a typical installation requirement for general aviation or remote locations of controlled airports where power and communications would be difficult to install.

The perimeter fence detection system has demonstrated close to 100-percent probability of detection of fence climbing and typical location accuracy of 20 feet or better. The system has further demonstrated an average total alarm rate of less than one alarm per day showing low correlation with environmental conditions (wind, etc.) — thus, nuisance alarm rates remain low.

Operator Performance Improved

The Florida State University (FSU) Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department conducted an independent study of situational awareness effectiveness before and after the incorporation of AWARE at Tallahassee Regional. Ph.D., Masters, and undergraduate students studied how the environment changes for the operators when moving from a task-oriented security center to one where situational awareness and automation is available. The thesis was that the operators will have more reliable and comprehensive information presented in a spatial manner that is easier and more effective to understanding and take appropriate actions.

The analysis involved 12 students randomly observing operators over an entire shift. The study included a four-month period and almost 600 hours of observation. The students found that situational awareness improved to 86 percent under the new system. “The results of the study show a clear improvement in situational awareness with the introduction of the RAPIN intervention during this study at [ Tallahassee Regional Airport ],” the research report says. “The large change in the level of the data, the non-overlap of the range of the data, and the nonoccurrence of trending problems between the intervention and nonintervention phases support the conclusion the RAPIN had an effective, socially significant impact on the situational awareness of the participants in this study.”

“This deployment is a perfect example of how modern technology can improve overall security by expanding upon existing infrastructure,” said Michael Borcherding, CEO of Abeo Corp., the project's systems integrator. “ Tallahassee Regional Airport represents the future of airport security made possible by a powerful, secure mesh network and the best security applications available today.”

This story was submitted by Bill Adams, CEO of CT Solutions LLC; and Steve Goldberg, president and CEO of Vidient Systems.