Which technologies are transforming airport security?
26 Oct 2021
Air travel is returning to pre-pandemic levels. COVID and its aftermath have added new compliance and operational concerns for airport security, and social and political volatility around the world emphasises the need for constant vigilance. A range of new technologies are enhancing airport security, not to mention providing new tools to simplify processes throughout the airport. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: Which technologies are transforming airport security?
AI-based video analytics is not only revolutionising airport security, but surveillance capabilities coupled with AI/Deep Learning have become an operational performance tool. These combined technologies are beginning to function as an all-in-one security solution at airports, with the capability to detect hazardous objects, track a person of interest, automate perimeter protection, etc. Beyond serving as a traditional surveillance tool, AI-based video analytics can support a range of operations and maintenance efforts, including airport capacity and passenger experience concerns, ramp and gate operations, queue management, passenger flow, and tracking and restroom cleaning management. The mass amounts of data that these cameras consume are driving comprehensive situational awareness at all levels. The database of collected data provides an invaluable tool to glean insights across terminals, checkpoints, ramps, and perimeters to identify important information. This information not only ensures the safety of staff and passengers but also fuels business efficiency across operations.
Airports manage multiple security touchpoints: customs are concerned with evaluating items entering the country; TSA is focused on what travellers are bringing with them; airline personnel is worried about getting their flights out safely, and airport management wants to deliver an exceptional traveller experience. Airport security is part of the critical infrastructure. Biometrics is having a moment right now as an important part of identification measures, and the associated security solutions will continue to capture greater market share and make physical access control systems in airports more secure. At the same time, industry associations and government entities are wrestling with privacy concerns, all of which impact widespread adoption. As the industry works through this and technology upgrade challenges, we see biometrics becoming one of the most transformative security solutions for smarter, more secure, airports.
As large airports navigate an uneven return to pre-pandemic operations, they are relying on unified physical identity and access management solutions to automate and simplify airport access control across their workforces. Unlike standalone access control systems that only manage workforce credentialing, these solutions support vendors and visitors, too. Many of the world’s largest airports use solutions like HID® SAFE™ for Aviation to provide one unified platform for managing identities, TSA compliance, and COVID-related compliance including contactless check-ins and screening visitors against internal and external watchlists. Benefits include reducing duplicate data input, enhancing customer service, achieving paperless records management, reducing costs, and improving efficiency. Cloud hosting minimises rip-and-replace practices through standards-based APIs and connectors that integrate with existing physical and IT infrastructure and an airport’s other authoritative systems. Today’s solutions also deliver actionable security insights and reports through real-time machine learning technology that collects and correlates cyber and physical identity data.
Airport security changed on 9/11; people suddenly sat up and took notice. Customers, employees, vendors, and guests looked at security differently, airports and technology vendors responded with innovative solutions to keep people safe. Today, due to COVID we are at another turning point, people are looking at physical safety differently, this time it’s about sanitisation. When we look at security (aka safety) from the perspective of health and safety, environmental, emergency management, and fire prevention, we have not yet applied technology. Relying on antiquated, manual, paper-based solutions to ensure everything necessary to keep people safe is completed. Responsibilities are delivered via email, checklists are filed, data is compiled manually, there is no visibility, it’s reactive. Thus, increasing the probability of errors, omissions, and risk. With the combination of the latest in mobile, SaaS, and NFC technology we can eliminate the risk, help ensure physical operating compliance and keep people safe.
Identity Management and Credentialing Systems that are converged across cyber and physical security are transforming the airport transportation market. Security credentials and vetting employees, contractors, and visitors are now part of an automated approach that incorporates compliance and regulatory procedures with new health and safety mandates to keep facilities safe and secure. Cyber-physical security convergence platforms enable airlines to eliminate security silos, deliver complete views of threats and vulnerabilities and provide frictionless entrance controls. A common digital identity for people and things is critical in provisioning airline systems, data, network, and physical access. Identity Intelligence technology helps prevent airline insider threats by maintaining a risk profile for the internal and external workforce, tracking access to critical areas within airports and flight operations. Integrations with various HR, ERP, and IT applications offer a “single pane of glass” view of each identity across all operations for the highest levels of situational awareness.
Airport/seaport security is a particular challenge due to the large numbers of the general public that need to have unfettered access to the estate. Recent improvements in scanning technology are proving to be very effective in moving large numbers of people through body scanners rapidly, and that is always the top priority of security professionals in these environments. Improvements in gunshot and weapons detection are also improving the traveller experience while increasing the margin of safety around public transport. Vastly improved video analytics is allowing us to examine movement and behaviours in real-time within large crowds of people. This, in conjunction with improved connectivity among disparate security platforms, is helping to provide these facilities with proactive security measures. Sharing the vast amounts of data on-premises security systems produce delivers a much more holistic view of the intelligence needed to provide safe and secure public areas.
The task of airport security professionals is getting increasingly complex. Between smarter sensors, an ever-growing number of devices, and the multiplication of systems, the sheer volume of data they must deal with can be overwhelming. All of this noise makes it difficult to identify the true threats among hundreds of events. Modern incident management solutions, such as Genetec Mission Control, can triage incidents requiring immediate attention from background noise and differentiate mundane events such as a door accidentally forced open from actual threats like attempted break-ins into secure areas. They can analyse events, detect patterns, automate routine tasks and simplify the response coordination among stakeholders, speeding up incident resolution. Mission Control will improve operational efficiencies with automated workflows that include incident delegation and supervisory oversight. All of these tools will allow an organisation to operate more efficiently allowing them to make decisions based on dynamic standard operating procedures.
In the future, as we look back, the coronavirus pandemic may represent another turning point in airport security. Slower air travel during the pandemic simplified security upgrades in airports, and post-pandemic needs have shifted to include more compliance and operational concerns in addition to security.
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