Through the Digital Lens

Airport IP surveillance is more than meets the eye -- more cameras, more users, and more uses that go beyond security


For instance, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) recently tripled the size of its video surveillance system, going from less than 1,000 cameras to more than 3,000 stationary and pan-tilt-zoom IP cameras as part of a $29.7 million security upgrade. An international airport on the East Coast that had less than 100 analog cameras just eight years ago, but now has long-term plans to install nearly 2,000 IP cameras—and they are halfway there.

Historically, video surveillance was the province of security for the TSA, airport security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Now these power users have been joined, and sometimes are being trumped, by operations, maintenance and risk management departments, which are finding more proactive and innovative uses for the technology. As a result airports are now justifying a need for even more cameras.

Let’s take a look at some new uses that have evolved out of this change.

  • Baggage Handling. Airports have traditionally used surveillance of baggage handling systems to ensure processes were being followed and bags were being retrieved by their rightful owners. Now this same surveillance system can be used to detect downtime issues and bring the baggage handling system back to operational effectiveness. As many airports undergo costly renovations and expansions, they also can use video surveillance to keep an extra eye on work performed by external contractors.
  • Airline Use. Many airlines have purchased and installed their own cameras at gates and ramps. Flight delays can be caused by any number of factors, from unscheduled maintenance to food vendors to the airline refueling staff. If a flight is delayed, video footage offers valuable data that can clear an airline of wrongdoing or pinpoint an operational inefficiency.
  • Concessions/Retail Security. Larger airports with mall-like atmospheres face an additional layer of security for their retail and food stores. Busy terminals and exposed merchandise displays can be loss prevention nightmares. Individual tenants have begun deploying their own IP cameras on the airport’s network and using heat mapping, customer flow and queue-counter analytics to gain insights that can help improve their sales operations.

With so many stakeholders, surveillance systems are being designed with more than just traditional security users in mind. While airports continue to seek innovative ways to keep passengers, staff and property safe, new best practices dictate that proposals and plans for future surveillance expansion are segmented out by individual department need so that nothing is overlooked in the design phase. If done in a comprehensive manner, many surveillance synergies will arise that allow multiple goals to be accomplished simultaneously. And it is those synergies that will help your facility stay on the cutting edge.

 

About the Author

E. Anthony Incorvati

Anthony Incorvati spent 20 years in the transportation industry before coming to Axis Communications in 2010. His experience ranges from naval aviation, Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Marconi/Ericsson, and time with Bombardier Transportation. As Axis Communications’ Transportation Business Development Manager for the North American market, Incorvati drives brand awareness by working closely with partners and end-users to recommend and design transportation systems that meet security, surveillance, industry standards and operational needs.

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