Assessing Access Security: Supplier offers free consultation for access control security


Assessing Access Security

Supplier offers free consultation for access control security

By Jodi Richards

June 2004

As airports across the country invest millions in security-relatedenhancements, one company is offering free security consulting servicesto ensure that money is wisely spent. Ingersoll-Rand’s Safety & SecuritySector’s director of transportation and government affairsrecently spoke with AIRPORT BUSINESS magazine on the program and its findings. Following is an edited transcript.

IR Security and Safety is the manufacturer of doors, hardware, electronic access control products, biometrics products, as well as integrated software and systems.

AIRPORT BUSINESS: How did this program start?

Rick White: We’ve worked in airports for decades. After September 11th, we put a focus on airport security as a solution provider, and trying to take a more comprehensive approach to what the airports are trying to do.

In that effort we developed what we call the Highest Access Security Program for airports. Essentially, we took a look at the security needs of the airport from the facilities side. Of course there’s a whole discussion around passengers and how you deal with them. But the other side of it is the facility itself, and most specifically, air operations access points in the airport, both on the secure side and the non-secure side.

We took a close look at Title 49-1542, which used to be under the FAA’s FAR 107, but then it transitioned to 1542 when TSA (Transportation Security Adminis-tration) took over. That discusses and sets the standards for all the access control in the airport and how the airport manages who has access to those sensitive areas — most notably where the airplanes are. We analyzed that and built a program to help airports identify where some potential vulnerabilities might be.

AB: Which wouldbe?

White: Places where people could gain unauthorized access to the air operations area. Which would be potentially jetway doors, baggage claim area doors, and other doors used by airlines personnel and airport personnel to get to the flight operations areas.

AB: How do you goabout this assessment?

Security PyramidWhite: First, we have what we call a security pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is mechanical stuff at the door. Inclusive of the door, the frame, the locking device, and the exit device. It really represents the physical barrier that actually keeps somebody from getting to the other side.

The next level is the key system and stand-alone electronics, pin code box, or push button locks.

The third level up is network access controls and biometrics, and the top of the pyramid would be facility-wide systems int gration, etc.

Essentially, what we found in airports is that a lot of the focus, particularly in the post-9/11 world, was at the top of that pyramid with the large integrated solutions, and lots of talk about biometrics. Everybody was forgetting the base of that pyramid. And just like a real pyramid, if the foundation isn’t solid, isn’t functioning properly, the whole system isn’t going to operate.

We put together a program that looks at the total security system, inclusive of everything from the basic mechanical hardware, all the way up to the systems integration side of it. A lot of the solutions being pushed on airports have been focused at the top of that emerging technology side of things. All of the state of the art technology won’t secure the airport if the mechanical, physical barriers to entry don’t function properly — if the door doesn’t close and latch reliably year-round, all the time. That door could potentially be left standing wide open and be a huge security vulnerability.

AB: Why isthere this concentration on the top, as you describe it?

White: First of all, the exciting stuff is at the top of the pyramid: the emerging technologies, the state of the art-type stuff like biometrics, and integrated security systems where all the doors are tied together in a single system, the CCTV cameras, etc. That’s a very popular side of security right now. And frankly, it’s more interesting and more exciting than doorknobs and keys.

The other problem is, at the bottom of the pyramid, you see the elements of the door system are managed by different departments within the airport.

For example, the frame, the door, and the closing device might be the carpentry department or the maintenance department, whereas the keys and the locking devices would be on the security side of the house. So by the very nature of having them split up, there’s less focus on it than if it was all grouped together.

For a variety of reasons, that type of organization may make sense to the airport, and that’s where we can actually help them out by pointing out the interoperability of all of those elements in that pyramid are critical to security and we help them coordinate that effort.

AB: What airports have you worked at andwhat did you find?

White: Toledo Express Airport is one that we’ve conducted this program at. They had adopted our biometric technology early last year, and we came back when this program was in its operational state and found other potential risks that they had and helped them correct those.

Toledo had no widespread glaring vulnerabilities, but we showed Toledo where they had some places where door closers weren’t functioning properly, or an exit device that the latching mechanism wasn’t functioning properly. We helped them spot those issues and make the corrections.

Some other airports, there may have been some more glaring things that we don’t want to call out by name, but you might have magnetic locking devices that have key overrides that lots of people have the keys and they forget to reset them. So the door’s free-swinging without the magnet being reset every time.

Those types of issues that may or may not slip by the airport and their security team are the types of things that we help them try to spot, and then present potential solutions.

There are several steps in the process and we’ve talked to about 40 U.S. airports on this program, and there’s five that we’ve completed the program with. We’ve also found that it’s been very beneficial to the mid-sized airports. The category X airports have lots of consultants dealing with these types of things, but the smaller regional airports and the airports in the smaller communities have really taken a liking to this program.

AB: What else have youlearned from working at these airports?

White: Airports are a very difficult environment for security because it’s a public place and the fire codes often contradict what the security folks are trying to do. You have to manage that balance between security and access control.

Airports are particularly challenging because half of what you’re trying to secure is outside, which is where everybody needs to go if there’s a fire or something like that. We’ve developed a delayed exit because a lot of the doors that go to the air operations areas are also fire exits. That’s a path of egress for the people in the public spaces of the airport, should there be an emergency inside the building. So that presents a huge problem to the airport; because [there’s] an exit device, you don’t have to have any credentials or keys or anything to get out of that and that’s by the very nature of what it’s there to do. With our product, when somebody hits the panic bar to exit, an alarm sounds and holds them there for 15 seconds before it allows them to go through the door. And that can help airports in that they can keep the air operations area secure, but yet people can get out if there’s an emergency. It bridges the gap between the fire codes and the security needs that are fairly unique to an airport.

AB: What kind of experience does IR Security & SafetySector bring to the table?

White: We’re in door hardware, electronic access control, and those types of products. We invented the exit device; we invented a lot of the technology that goes into hydraulic door closers, and automatic door operators. We have the most deployed biometric device in airports.

We don’t try to be all things security to the airport. We don’t know about magnetometers, metal detection devices, and explosives trace detection.

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(For further information, contact Rick White at (877) 840-3621 or

TSA Selects 8 Airports

The Transportation Security Administration announces it has selected eight airports to participate in its Access Control Pilot Program.

The program will test Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, Anti-Piggybacking technology, advanced video surveillance technology, and various biometric technologies. Airports chosen for the pilot include: Boise (ID) Air Terminal/Gowen Field; Miami International; Minneapolis-St. Paul International; Newark (NJ) International; Savannah (GA) International; Southwest Florida International; T.F. Green State (RI); and Tampa International.

TSA states it has developed a two-phase pilot program starting with Phase I, including these initial eight airports testing various off-the-shelf biometric technologies under a variety of real-world operational environments in an effort to provide unbiased evaluations of their suitability of use. TSA will then determine which technologies will be evaluated in the Phase II airports.

In October 2003, TSA awarded a contract to Unisys to be the systems integrator for the pilot program. The contract has a maximum government obligation of $17 million over 20 months.