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Facing airport security issues with various projects and solutions

Uwe Karl, BT Head of Airport Solutions at Siemens, addresses some of the security issues faced by airports

Q: Can you tell us more about the security solutions Siemens has to offer?

The main focus for Siemens is an integrated approach to airport security, one that seeks to recognise all the threats throughout the process rather than looking at them simply in isolation.  This means considering all the angles, from the perimeter protection of the airport through to preventing thefts from the car parks, efficient and transparent passenger processing, luggage and cargo screening procedures and on to general airport operation and air transport management.  That is not to say that a single solution to airport security exists - it does not.  But, by adopting an integrated approach, airport operators can better protect all operating and value chain processes, without gaps.  In terms of security this will typically include access control, intelligent algorithms in video surveillance, intrusion detection, alarm management and evacuation. When connected with passenger related data, like information about the flight, checked baggage and current location inside the airport, intelligent recognition systems and behaviour pattern recognition, the picture of integrated security becomes even more complete. This integrated approach can also be adopted with other building management elements, such as fire protection, energy management and automation systems for the control of heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC).

Q: What are their main benefits?

One of the major problems identified by airports which require security measures employed over a large area is how to manage all the different inputs and alerts which may occur, often simultaneously, in the event of an incident.  For example simple questions must be answered - such as who is in charge?  The police? Security staff? Fire officers?  Which measures should be adopted in the case of an incident? If an integrated approach is adopted, such as "Command and Control" systems from Siemens, it provides a centralised overview and control for the protection not only of an airport's passengers and employees but also of its assets. Such a command and control system integrates a wide range of disciplines such as fire, intrusion, access control, video surveillance, public announcement systems, flight information displays, building automation systems and other relevant security equipment, providing one central point through which all the various alerts can be monitored.  Command and control systems also guide the personnel who need to respond to an incident as to what actions to take, a vital factor in what is invariably a stressful situation.

Hundreds of Airports throughout the world use Siemens solutions

Q: Which airports use Siemens' solutions?

Hundreds of airports throughout the world use Siemens solutions, from national airports such as Bodo in Norway, to international airports such as Dubai, New York JFK and Munich. 

An example is the recently completed Bengaluru (Bangalore) International Airport in India, handling over 9 million passengers a year with around 27 aircraft movements per hour. Siemens was one of the few, if not the only companies worldwide, with the expertise to offer a comprehensive portfolio of solutions and airport-related services and processes. Siemens provides an integrated package of power supply, I.T systems, communications, security systems, baggage handling systems, X-ray inspections, check-in systems, and airfield lighting, from consultation to operation.

Siemens also supplied the security for the largest infrastructure project created in the Catalan region of Spain in the last 20 years.  The new Terminal 1 at Barcelona International Airport (also known as El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto), the second largest airport in Spain, was inaugurated on 17 June 2009, consolidating Barcelona's place amongst the most important air hubs in Europe. Siemens installed the security, fire detection and lighting systems in the new terminal, along with video surveillance systems with video analytics technology and access control systems.  Also, the other large hubs in that region - Madrid Barrajas and Lisbon Airport - are all equipped with Siemens solutions.

Q: What are the main issues affecting this sector at the moment?

Megatrends such as globalisation and urbanisation, along with growing and aging populations, continue to be an impact worldwide.  By 2025 nearly two-thirds of the world's population will live in, or very close to, the major conurbations.  As airports provide a global transportation network between cities, they are important hubs and have considerable regional, economic significance - giving the cities they serve great commercial advantages over those that do not.  This growing urbanisation means that airports will undoubtedly continue to grow in number and that existing airports will continue to grow in size in order to satisfy the increasing demand for mobility.  The systems employed to protect them therefore need to accommodate such growth, with a smooth migration path to allow systems to expand easily becoming ever more important.

 Siemens offers centralised monitoring solutions for airports
Siemens offers airport security solutions with a centralised monitoring point for more efficient surveillance

Q: Do you have any product/project developments in the pipeline?

Today, one of the key focus areas for Siemens is providing the technology to meet ever-increasing demand from customers for an integrated approach to running a building. One of the greatest challenges today for airport operators is the day-to-day management of disparate systems, third party equipment and a host of different resources throughout the lifecycle of the facility. The phased approach to an airport's development often leads to a mix of old and new technologies. For this reason, Siemens are today developing and rolling out a portfolio of tested and proven applications to integrate disciplines at an airport.

Siemens continues to develop products and systems to help airports to optimise their processes and passenger flows with even higher security. Software packages support the decisions of the operators in a world of system integration and smart devices. Unmanned border control and boarding gates are helping to optimise processes. 

Q: Are there any other types of technology, which you believe could enhance security in the future?

Biometrics is very much a technology buzz word. Within the access control area specifically, biometrics is still really a niche but an important part of the overall market and one that does offer a real increase in the level of security provided in applications such as airports that require this level of authorization prior to access being granted. Siemens employs its own technologies or partners with strong global players in the technology to "integrate" the support for the technology within its access systems - something which Siemens does generally as a business when it recognises companies that have a particular expertise in specific areas.

Unlike mobile phones or televisions, which are typically thrown away and replaced after a few years, building services equipment is often required to function correctly for 10, 15 even 20 years. Protecting customers' investments over the entire lifecycle of the airport facility is therefore very important.

Siemens continues to develop products and systems to help airports to optimise their processes and passenger flows with even higher security

As technologies develop and improve, Siemens products and solutions for airports become faster and more sophisticated, with more features and benefits for the airport operators, the passengers and the airport buildings. Often the best way to ensure the economic value of the building equipment and services is via migration or upgrading strategies, which give customers the option to gradually add new functionality without having to completely replace entire systems.

In all Siemens products, safety features are combined with algorithms to improve comfort and (wherever possible) to reduce fuel consumption. This means that we protect not only the airport buildings but also contribute directly to the reduction in carbon emissions. The security of power supplies and low voltage distribution, and the reliable operation of a heat, ventilation and air conditioning plant will all indirectly enhance the building security.

Q: In general terms, what does the future hold for airport security?

Today, there are over 1,670 airports worldwide transporting 2 billion passengers and 40% of exported goods annually. As this number is predicted to increase, with the megatrend towards large cities and urbanisation it is essential to explore routes of sustainability. Airports are and will remain the most important hubs for passenger and cargo travel between cities, countries and continents.  Therefore, ensuring that they are able to continue to provide a gateway to the world that is safe and secure has never been more critical.  The most effective enhancement of security in the future is the ability to collect security relevant information from different sensors and various sources, and then integrate all this information in one Security Integration Platform, in combination with personal and flight data, as well as background checks.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Protecting the Environment

The world today is slowing realising the need to save energy and ‘go-green'. It is a fact that buildings account for 40-50% of the world's fuel consumption and carbon emissions; there is no need nowadays to neglect even basic energy saving measures for the equipment and services contained within our buildings.

Siemens believe in the importance of leaving behind an intact environment for future generations. With its innovative building technologies, Siemens is helping to preserve the planet's natural resources and habitats in a process that unites environmental protection with advanced technology and business success. Our environmentally focused products and solutions for heating, air conditioning, refrigeration and air conditioning within airports help to conserve resources in power generation and preserve air and water quality. By reducing the power consumption of building services equipment, Siemens make an effective contribution toward protecting our environment.

Fuels are becoming increasingly rare and expensive, so that to use them sensibly and sparingly justifies Siemens efforts to control HVAC installations as economically as possible. By selecting innovative control systems and building control strategies, it is possible to make efficient use of energy while simultaneously protecting the well-being of people - a dual benefit which many airport operators have ignored until now.

 Click here for more information on Integrated Airport Solutions from Siemens.

Uwe Karl
BT Head of Airport Solutions, Siemens
Uwe Karl, BT Head of Airport Solutions, Siemens

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