Airports today face a massive increase in passenger counts. Not only this, but high volumes of luggage, public and employee access, and the vast size of these facilities can pose problems for integrators when implementing video surveillance solutions. Furthermore, wide-open spaces around a perimeter and large passageways from terminal to terminal can present a significant challenge for video coverage.
“These challenges have only grown over the years, with the requirements of meeting federal regulations set forth by countries around the world on how long to keep surveillance video, which parts of an airport should be under surveillance, and how the video is used,”said Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President of Americas at Oncam.
Benjamin Low, VP of APAC at Milestone Systems, said, “We often see older airports tearing out entire surveillance solutions because the legacy approach to using one brand of camera/software to try to fit an extremely challenging environment is no longer valid.”
Making the best use of existing infrastructure at airports means are often very dynamic and physical infrastructure is constantly changing. “As a consequence, a lot of construction works are going on which need to be monitored from the control room. This also asks for frequent adaptation of the video security system (e.g., changing field of view or focus of a camera),” said Maarten Wings, Global Vertical Manager Airports at Bosch Building Technologies.
“Today a field technician is ordered to make the changes and while doing so he often disturbs the operational environment with a crane or ladder to work on the camera. Embedded remote commissioning and configuration features, which are available in the latest camera models, allow adaptation from a remote location without the need of a ladder or crane. It is done either from the ground with a smartphone or tablet application or from the configuration software on a PC somewhere remote,” Wings explained.
Lighting is also a common surveillance challenge at airports, and can especially affect analytics such as facial recognition. To combat this, in an airport environment (especially indoors), lighting conditions can be better controlled and there can be more trials on camera and angle deployment that allow for reduction of false positives, Low advised.
Need for improved situational awareness
David Lenot, Airport Practice Lead at Genetec, added, “Indoors, where lighting is mostly controlled, constraints are mostly related to the expected design/ aesthetic expectations of architects and the nature of the construction material such as glass, wood or aluminum that should not be altered by visible sensors/ devices. Finally, when used for video analytic purposes, camera locations must be selected very carefully to enable the analytic to perform at the expected quality level.”
Outdoor airport conditions can also be very challenging. However, camerasvendors are now offering a greater variety of very wide angle, panoramic, multisensor cameras that improve visual coverage and may limit the burden of installation and deployment by limiting the number of cameras and the required cabling civil engineering work, according to Lenot.
Cybersecurity risks are also becoming more prevalent. Wings noted that video security solutions should offer latest hardware and software measures to ensure data security and privacy protection at the highest level and data security should be approached end-toend.
“This involves that communication can only be allowed between trusted devices, data must be encrypted both in-transit as well as stored, user access rights can be easily managed, and PKI (public key infrastructures) can be supported,” Wings said.
Video surveillance today still requires intensive manual labor. This leads to a higher number of errors since humans are not very good at attentively watching video for a long time, which in a critical location like an airport can have major consequences. Modern video management systems, however, can reliably bring forward incidents to operators and ideally enable prevention of incidents.
Lenot noted how greater camera performance and resolution, higher computational power, AI, neuronal networks, etc., are all helping deliver more in-depth insights and improving situational awareness.
“In today’s complex risk environment, airports require solutions to help enhance risk management, boost operational efficiency and improve situational awareness. In particular, situational awareness software platforms can deliver significant benefits. These systems help stakeholders gain critical insight into an airport’s security operations — both physical and cybersecurity systems — to help protect infrastructure and build analytical data,” said Alan Stoddard, VP and GM of Situational Intelligence Solutions at Verint.
“By collecting actionable intelligence from any number of sensors, such as video surveillance, open source web intelligence, crowdsourcing, weather sensors, mobile locations and more, leaders are empowered to manage and respond to situations efficiently and share information easily with multiple agencies, employees, citizens, aligned agencies and first responders,” Stoddard added. “Moreover, by creating a single enterprise-wide view across disparate systems and technologies, these solutions can help airports improve response times, lower operational costs, and increase operational efficiencies.”
Improving situational awareness also involves ensuring that every nook and cranny of a facility is covered by video, without blind spots. This, according to Edulbehram, is what many airport customers most want.
“Many airports have opted to strengthen their video camera arsenal with panoramic technology — both through 180- and 360-degree cameras. Think about the expansive areas of an airport, such as long corridors connecting terminals, large areas with baggage claim carousels or spacious boarding areas — all of these areas require extensive coverage that a traditional pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera cannot reach without units that are pointing in every direction. Instead, airports are uniquely suited to panoramic cameras that can maintain situational awareness in these vast areas and help officials track individuals to critical choke points, where narrow field-of-view cameras can help identify persons of interest in an investigation,” Edulbehram explained.
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