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Lucas Young, business development manager for Transport at Axis Communications, discusses how emerging video technology will play an important role in improving airport security.

Despite heavy investment in the area, airfields remain frustratingly difficult to fully secure. Hundreds of incidents of unauthorised access occur every year, all around the world.

Hundreds of incidents of unauthorised access occur every year, all around the world. From protestors at Heathrow in the UK (1) and Shannon in Ireland (2), to the more bizarre. 

In Atlanta last year, police arrested a man on the roadway of the busiest airport in the US who not only couldn’t remember how he had got through the perimeter fence but had also left no evidence of how he made his entry (3).

Airports cannot be accused of failing to try and prevent these kinds of breaches – and those with more serious criminal or terrorist intent.

Recent research states that spending on security will increase by 60% between 2015 and 2024 (4). However, increased spend in perimeter security isn’t necessarily the solution. Ensuring the spend is effective and making use of the most innovative and modern technology, is.

The challenges for airports are well understood. By their nature, airfield perimeters are large and often sited next to busy roads or urban centres.

They need to be protected 24/7, with a solution having failsafe and backup measures built in to facilitate continued protection.

Furthermore, while physical barriers such as gates and high fences are essential, relying on that alone is not preventing those intruders with a high-level of determination.

As airports look to address these challenges, protect their premises and get better value for money from their security spend, innovative video technology will play an increasingly important role. Here are five top tips to improve an airport’s perimeter security in 2019:

#1 – Improve low light capability

The latest digital security cameras produce crisp, clear images that aren’t just sharper than analogue cameras, they have better colour reproduction and the ability to capture wide dynamic range.

This reduces the problem of seeing detail in scenes where one area is brightly lit, and another is in shadow. The major benefits of this low light capability are not only being able to identify an intrusion, but also positively identify the intruder.

This is because the most innovative cameras are also extremely sensitive and able to capture full colour images with minimal grain in near darkness. This means control room staff can perform a visual risk assessment of a potential incident – for example, when a fence alarm is triggered – faster and more accurately.

#2 – Speed up security deployment in challenging environments

Airports and landing strips can be located in challenging locations, with specific climate conditions and environmental constraints often impacting the options available when looking to secure an airport’s perimeter.

Deploying high definition network cameras, those that have been rigorously tested to ensure operation in extreme environments with little in the way of routine maintenance, can be extremely fast and cost effective to deploy. They require little more than power and a network connection to bring online. This means that the effective protection of an entire site, even one with limited infrastructure in a challenging location, is now much more achievable than it was even three or four years ago.

#3 – Reduce false alarms by adding thermal imaging

Thermal imaging cameras have been deployed in a vast number of public safety systems in recent years, thanks again to falling costs and the fact that they can provide improved detection capabilities compared to traditional optical cameras.

Typically used for ‘night vision’, a key emerging benefit of thermal imaging is its inherent ability to detect a heat source at long range.

Combined with the power of machine learning, the result is a solution that is able to distinguish between the thermal signature of an animal and that of a human being, providing real-time alerts while minimising false alarms.

#4 – Scale perimeter protection via video analytics and AI

Current solutions for high security areas in airports include radar, seismic detection, microwave and laser imaging to trigger early warning or real-time unauthorised access alerts.

Video analytics, however, areemerging as an extremely cost-effective way of providing an enhanced level of protection in wide open spaces.

Analytics platforms can combine data from multiple devices, including high definition visual and thermal imaging cameras, with other systems, such as access control and other intrusion detection equipment.

Include machine learning, and the result is a very robust, integrated and networked solution. It’s also highly scalable, enabling 24/7 monitoring of large numbers of cameras without the need to dramatically expand support teams.

Modern video analytics platforms can even go as far as identifying suspicious behaviour, for example, raising a warning when someone spends too long loitering in the wrong place.

#5 – Make existing systems work smarter by adding intelligence

Installing a new, high definition network video system with the latest smart camera technology doesn’t necessarily have to mean ripping and replacing an entire existing security system and its architecture.

Often, legacy cameras can be network connected with the use of encoders allowing for staged migration to a truly modern system that is both fit for purpose and fit for future.

Video isn’t the only answer to perimeter security, of course. But as the need for flexible, intelligent and ever vigilant detection and tracking continues to rise, it will play a vital role.

To learn more about effectively securing airport perimeters, visit: https://www.axis.com/solutions-by-industry/transportation/aviation






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