Securing Long Beach

Jan. 2, 2006
Long Beach launches the first fully digital video surveillance and access control system in the country.

Activity at Long Beach Airport has increased some 400 percent in recent years, according to superintendent, chief of security David Sansenbach. With increased traffic, as well as security changes since 9/11, the airport was in need of a new, enhanced access control system. Investing some $3 million, Long Beach will go live in early 2006 with its new system, complete with a 360-degree dispatch center, CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras, and video analytics. It is being billed as the first fully digital video surveillance and access control system for airports in the country.

Sansenbach says the primary need for the project is to replace an existing access control system that is “aged, and still working rather well, but obviously it had been in service for many, many years and was in desperate need of an upgraded, newer system.”

One example, offers Sansenbach, is the use of proximity card readers with the new system, versus card swipe readers previously. He explains that the old system “required you to take the card and physically swipe it through the card reader. The new system simply requires you to present it to the reader and it reads a digital chip inside the card.” Sansenbach says this results in fewer read errors.

The new system incorporates many security functions which are integrated seamlessly under one platform, advanced information management (AIM®) from ARINC, INC, the prime contractor on the project. After the system is fully functional, ARINC will provide ongoing support, maintenance, and upgrades, under the contract with the airport.

It integrates all of the airport’s security alarms and video cameras. Sansenbach’s security team now has “complete video coverage of almost the entire airport, including our AOA (airfield operations area).”

In addition to the technological enhancements, the security department is physically enhanced by the project in moving the security access control dispatch office to the fifth floor of the terminal building and creating a 360-degree view of the airport from the old control tower. Explains Sansenbach, “we completely tore [the tower] to the bones and rebuilt it from the ground up and put the dispatch/access control monitoring station in the tower.”

Frank Koren, business development manager, ARINC, explains that the security access control dispatch center will include AIM graphic terminals, AIM displays, live video displays, and allow the operator to look at various videos from around the facility and monitor doors and gates for intrusions.

The network of security cameras allows the airport to digitally record and store video in an archive system for up to 30 days. BroadWare Technologies, Inc. provides the wireless storage and distribution of video for the project, says senior director of business development Peter McDonald.

At a cost of some $3 million, the enhanced system is expected to be live by the end of January 2006. “Each day, we’re getting closer and closer,” says Sansenbach. “More and more equipment is going on line. We’ve started the cut-over process now from the old system to the new. We’re simultaneously utilizing the old system with the new system until we get a complete cut-over.”

System Integration Key to Installation
Because the previous system involved many stand-alone features and wasn’t user-friendly, integration of all the security utilities is important to the airport, Sansenbach explains. “As an alarm comes up in a particular area, in addition to the access control alarm, we’ll now have live video and digitally recorded video.” Everything from panic buttons, to the cameras, card readers, emergency phones in parking lots, and AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) will be integrated under the AIM platform.

Says Koren, “One of the things that is plaguing a lot of airports around the country today is all these disparate security technologies that can’t talk to each other or talk to other systems or into one homogeneous type of system that accepts data fusing of all the underlying elements, which is what the AIM system does.”

All of the parking areas at Long Beach will have cameras deployed and emergency phones available. The phones will allow a customer to be in direct contact with the airport’s dispatch center for assistance in emergency and non-emergency situations. Additionally, if an AED door is opened for use, the security control center is immediately notified that it is being taken out, “so we can look at it live and send help to that area without even them having to pick up the phone to dial 911,” Sansenbach explains.

Sansenbach says the system will greatly enhance the ability of the operator or dispatcher in the security operations control tower. “They won’t be running around the room to silence certain alarms,” he says. “It will streamline everything.”

Some 100 cameras are being deployed around the airport, with about 5 percent of those being wireless, which Sansenbach says was a tremendous benefit. “We don’t have to trench across runways and taxiways. It’s going to be fed to us via wireless technology. Had we not been able to do that, we might not have been able to put some of the cameras in certain locations.”

Not only would some locations be impossible physically, but the cost to wire cameras out some distances would have been cost-prohibitive.

Long Beach Airport has tunnels, with heavy traffic, that run underneath some of the runways. The cameras also allow the security team to monitor these tunnels for stopped or slow-moving vehicles, or unapproved access. According to ARINC’s Koren, video analytics are being used for viewing the tunnels.

Project Goes Outside the Fence
The City of Long Beach recently opened an emergency communications and operations center (ECOC) where the airport will add a work station. Explains Sansenbach, “Any major incident or emergency in the city is managed from that facility. So [the ECOC] will have a work station as part of the airport’s new system that will allow the city officials that want to see or need to see what’s going on at the airport a real-time look...”

Sansenbach advises other airports that are looking at enhancing their security to take the time to look at all the available technology. “There’s a lot out there, and it seems post-9/11 everybody’s willing to sell everything and anything and a lot of claims are made. Just be careful and take a close look at what you’re asking for and make sure it’s what you’re getting.”

Currently, biometrics is not included in the security system’s deployment, but Sansenbach says it is flexible enough to incorporate the technology in the future, if needed.

“We’re excited about it coming online,” says Sansenbach. “It’s going to be a definite enhancement to the security of the Long Beach Airport, without question. And in this day and age, you can’t have enough security.”